LOS ANGELES Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender ( LGBT ) people in law enforcement face pervasive discrimination, according to a new study from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. Currently, there is no nationwide comprehensive nondiscrimination law that protects workers from employment discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and only a patchwork of inconsistent laws protect workers from such discrimination at the state and local level.
"This research demonstrates that even the people who protect us from harm everyday disproportionately suffer from discrimination at work," said study co-author, Christy Mallory, former Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law and Policy. "ENDA would bring the nationwide legal consistency needed to protect and provide legal recourse to LGBT law enforcement and corrections personnel who are treated differently because of their sexual orientation and gender identity."
The new report updates a 2009 Williams Institute report on discrimination in public employment, which found that over 40 percent of the reported cases of discrimination occurred against law enforcement and corrections department personnel. This updated report reviews evidence of discrimination against 95 law enforcement and corrections employees since 2000. Key findings include:
The discrimination encountered often went beyond firing or demotion and included severe verbal harassment and sexual harassment, including a death threat, discriminatory slurs, indecent exposure and inappropriate touching.
Many of the reports revealed physical harassment or violence towards the officers. These included reports of being slammed into a concrete wall, attacked with a chair, and repeated reports of officers being refused back-up, placing their personal safety in danger.
Over two-thirds of LGBT law enforcement officers in a 2009 study reported hearing homophobic comments on the job and over half reported being treated like an outsider by their colleagues.
A recent survey of 60 members of TCOPS, an organization for transgender law enforcement officers, found that over 90% reported negative experiences with their departments.
Surveys on non-LGBT officers also document high rates of discriminatory attitudes. For example, a 2008 study found that of surveyed police chiefs in Texas over one in four "indicated that they would have difficulty working with a gay man," and approximately 50% would have difficulty working with a lesbian officer.
The study is co-authored by Williams Institute Executive Director, Brad Sears; Jim Kepner Law and Policy Fellow, Amira Hasenbush; and former Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law and Policy, Christy Mallory.
The full report is available at the link: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Law-Enforcement-Discrim-Report-Nov-2013.pdf .