Written by: Isaiah Smart
The strength of the LGBT community has grown tremendously over the years. A minority that is easily overlooked when thinking about diversity at times, the LGBT community has worked tirelessly to gain an equal spot in society.
The civil war this group has fought isn’t as bloody and violent as with African-Americans in the ‘60s but is similar to the fight of the women’s suffrage movement. In that light, another issue peaks its head for this debate of human rights.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is a piece of legislation that has been on the table of Congress for over 15 years, and a similar document has lingered for nearly 40 years. The proposed legislation would prohibit discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with a minimum of 15 employees.
This may sound familiar with past policies such as affirmative action, the voting rights act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. All of the policies mentioned are coals to the fire of human rights that so many minorities have fought for.
Some opposition to this legislation brings in the potential of negative impact on children by eliminating a school’s ability to avoid hiring transgender instructors. Others note that the proposition infringes on property rights and freedom of association.
Those that are in favor of this bill cite Title VII and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as ways to reference that this is indeed constitutional.
A pro to this legislation passing is that members of the LGBT community can be comfortable when applying for jobs and working in different workplaces. Everyone should be able to be comfortable in their own skin as opposed to having to pretend to be someone else in different settings. It has been proven, in the military for example, that orientation and gender identification doesn’t affect performance. In the event that this is passed, students are given more of a freedom to apply for positions that they once felt shut out from.
This is not only a student issue, as stated earlier; this is a human rights issue. So, the landscape of potential faculty and staff members could be changing as well. Of course, opposition will bring up the discrimination policy of many institutions, organizations and companies, but this legislation simply narrows the room for error in a case that is gaining momentum in terms of civil rights.
As of April 25, ENDA had 56 supporters from the Senate and 193 from the House. The bill was presented on the senate floor Monday.
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UPDATE: Congress has passed the ENDA bill prohibiting discrimination for employers hiring employees based on sexual orientation or gender identification.