LGBT Facts

gay flag-518475829by Nelda Holder

Seventeen states have explicit protections for gender identity and sexual orientation in public accommodations: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, plus the District of Columbia. (American Civil Liberties Union, “Transgender People and the Law”) More than 200 cites and counties also prohibit gender identity discrimination even if their state does not. (ACLU, “Transgender People and the Law”)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all employers under its jurisdiction provide employees with “sanitary and available toilet facilities,” and publishes “A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers” that sets out this core principle: “All employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.”

OSHA’s guide further states: “Gender identity is an intrinsic part of each person’s identity and everyday life. Accordingly, authorities on gender issues counsel that it is essential for employees to be able to work in a manner consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives, based on their gender identity.” Restricting employees to restrooms not consistent with their gender identity, the guide points out, “singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.”

The American Psychological Association states: “Antitrans prejudice and the adherence of mainstream society to the gender binary adversely affect TGNC people within their families, schools, health care, legal systems, workplaces, religious traditions, and communities. (Transgender Law Center, 2005). In addition to the emotional distress the forced binary choice that public restrooms may create … (TGNC people) are frequently concerned with others’ reactions to their presence in public restrooms, including potential discrimination, harassment, and violence. (American Psychological Association: “Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People”)

APA guidelines further state: “Psychologists are encouraged to inform public policy to reduce negative systemic impact on TGNC people and to promote positive social change.”

The APA issued, on February 2015, a Resolution on Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity in Children and Adolescents in Schools, recommending that “administrators create safer environments for gender diverse, transgender, and intersex/DSD students, staff, and teachers to have access to the sex-segregated facilities, activities, and programs that are consistent with the gender identity, including, but not limited to, bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, and classroom activities.” (APA: “Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity in Children and Adolescents in Schools)

Experts from 12 states, in a 2014 Media Matters report, have debunked what is considered an “urban myth” about restroom sexual assault in trans-inclusive jurisdictions, calling the notion an “unsubstantiated fear” that neglects the reality that “transgender people are far too often targeted for sexual violence.” (Media Matters: “15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth”)

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