As we celebrate the gains made by the LGBTQ community during Pride Month, we also recognize how far we still have to go in the fight for economic justice. Mistreatment and discrimination against LGBTQ people, made worse by factors like race, ability, and gender, has left many in the community without the economic opportunities that other Americans enjoy.
- LGBTQ youth are more likely to lack financial assistance due to family rejection;
- 20% of LGBTQ people have experienced workplace discrimination; and
- until this month’s Supreme Court ruling, 52% of LGBTQ Americans lived in states where they could be fired for being LGBTQ.
This cycle of discrimination leads to worse health outcomes and joblessness in the LGBTQ community. It’s time for that to change. Here are a few policy changes that would help:
Fair Minimum Wage
Even though the Supreme Court’s recent ruling outlaws employment discrimination, the LGBTQ community has faced employment discrimination in huge numbers. Up to 43% of gay workers and 90% of transgender workers have experienced discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Gay and bisexual men earn between 10 and 32% less than heterosexual men. Nearly one-third of transgender people are living in poverty. These disparities are made worse by race. Same-sex Black couples live in poverty at twice the rate of heterosexual Black couples, and the unemployment rate among transgender people of color is four times higher than the rest of the population. Many LGBTQ people make minimum wage because of discrimination and raising the minimum wage helps LGBTQ people achieve greater financial security.
Another consequence of employment discrimination, LGBTQ workers are disproportionately forced into low-wage jobs with no insurance.. By expanding Medicaid, states can allow more hardworking people who fall in the coverage gap the chance to qualify for health insurance, including LGBTQ people. Medicaid expansion can provide the LGBTQ community life-saving care, including transition-related care for transgender people or life-saving HIV treatment and prevention.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
The LGBTQ community’s need for paid family and medical leave continues to grow. LGBTQ people are more likely to foster and adopt children but paid leave for adoption and fostering is rare. Paid family and medical leave helps families bond and allows transgender people to have a caregiver by their side following transition-related surgeries.
Ensuring Fair Lending Practices
LGBTQ people don’t have equal access to banking and home-buying which makes it considerably harder to become financially stable. LGBTQ people often face discrimination in banking. Same-sex couples are more likely to be denied a mortgage and then be hit with higher finance fees. LGBTQ people are 45% more likely to earn less than $24,000 a year, which leaves them more susceptible to predatory practices like payday lending. Ending predatory payday lending practices would help to keep LGBTQ people out of the debt traps created by these companies and help the community achieve greater financial stability.