The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding the first-ever Senate hearing on the Equality Act, federal legislation that would expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, education, public accommodations, housing, credit, and other settings. The Equality Act passed the House in March.
LGBT people face discrimination in all areas of their lives. Recent Williams Institute research has documented discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations, health care, and other settings.
“The Equality Act would make clear that discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited under federal law,” said Christy Mallory, Legal Director at the Williams Institute. “It would also help to remedy the widespread harassment and discrimination that LGBT people experience at work, school, and when trying to access services.”
Demographics and Socioeconomic Characteristics
- There are an estimated 13 million people ages 13 and older who identify as LGBT in the U.S.
- 22% of LGBT adults live in poverty in the U.S. compared to 16% of non-LGBT people.
- 27% of LGBT adults experience food insecurity compared to 17% of non-LGBT adults.
- LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty than white LGBT people: 37% of Latino/a LGBT people, 31% of Black LGBT people, 23% of Asian LGBT people, and 22% of multiracial LGBT people live in poverty, compared to 15% of white LGBT people.
- Among LGBT people, 38% of multiracial people, 37% of Black people, and 32% of Latino/a people report not having enough money for food in the past year, compared to 22% of white LGBT people.
- There are approximately 1 million LGBT workers ages 16 and older in the U.S., including 7.1 million LGB and 1 million transgender workers.
- An estimated 4.1 million of them live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment.
- 9% of LGBT adults are unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT people.
- An analysis of data collected by Gallup found that 60% of LGB people report being fired from or denied a job compared to 40% of heterosexual people.
- There are approximately 11 million LGBT adults ages 18 and older in the U.S. An estimated 5.6 million of them live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in housing.
- An analysis of Gallup data found that 15% of LGB people report being prevented from moving into or buying a house compared to 6% of heterosexual people.
- 17% of LGB adults and 30% of transgender adults have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, compared to 6% of the general population.
- There are over 5 million LGBT students ages 15 and older in the U.S. An estimated 2.1 million of them live in states without statutory protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at school.
- An estimated 9 million LGBT adults live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.
LGBT people would also gain express protections under the Equality Act from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in credit, jury service, and federally funded programs.
Williams Institute scholars have provided the Senate with expert-written testimony and over 150 pages of court cases and academic research that detail the empirical need for explicit federal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in areas covered by the Equality Act.
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.