Half the LGBT population remains closeted at work

A new study by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion, reveals that a majority of the LGBT population in the United States remains closeted at work.

Even though there has been a swift sea change in public sentiment toward the LGBT community, signified by the correlative majority approval of same-sex marriage throughout the nation as well as the domino-effect of states overturning their same-sex marriage bans, 53% of those surveyed within the LGBT community remain closeted at work. This percentage remains relatively unchanged from the 51% who said they remained closeted in 2009, when only four states allowed same-sex marriage.

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Image from The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion

Today, 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, have legal same-sex marriage. Idaho is set to offer its first same-sex marriage this coming Friday, while Oregon looks like the next domino to fall.

Many remain closeted because their workplace environment seems unfriendly, with 35% of LGBT respondents saying that they “actively lie” about their personal lives at work.

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The federal government has yet to pass ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which is waiting for a vote in the House of Representatives, after being passed in the U.S. Senate last fall. ENDA would provide federal protection against workplace discrimination in terms of sexuality and gender identity. Despite corporate efforts to implement more inclusive policies, without a federal law there is no consistent and uniform set of legal protections for the LGBT community. In fact, there are still 29 states where you can be discriminated against because of your sexual orientation and 33 states in regard to gender identity.

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