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There are approximately 1 million gay or transgender individuals in America today working in state, local, or municipal government. They are firefighters, teachers, police officers, nurses, librarians, child-care providers, sanitation workers, and more. These public servants care for our children, protect our communities, clean our streets, and keep America functioning.
Unfortunately, far too many gay and transgender public-sector employees arrive at work each day fearing that they may lose their job due to discrimination. Moreover, these workers often have little or no legal recourse when discrimination occurs. Research and data reveal that gay and transgender employees experience rates of discrimination on the job comparable to other protected groups, but they lack the same legal protections afforded to those groups.
Rather than being evaluated on their skills, qualifications, and ability to contribute on the job, gay and transgender workers are all too often not hired, not promoted, or, in the worst cases, fired from their jobs based solely on their sexual orientation and gender identity — characteristics completely irrelevant to job performance. Sadly, for gay and transgender workers discrimination results in significant job insecurity and makes it more difficult for them to make ends meet and provide for their families.
In addition, unfair laws and policies leave many of these employees without the same access to workplace benefits that their straight and nontransgender counterparts currently enjoy. This includes employer-sponsored health insurance benefits, which protect them and their families during times of illness. Given that these benefits are a crucial component of employee compensation, the result is unequal pay for equal work for gay and transgender workers.
In short, discrimination and unequal treatment on the job inflicts significant economic harm on gay and transgender public-sector employees and their families. This is not, however, only a problem for gay and transgender workers themselves. It is also presents problems for running an efficient and effective public sector.
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