Study Shows Grim Economic Reality For LGBT Public Sector Employees

EmploymentstudyThe Center for American Progress and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees today released a joint study examining the trials and tribulations LGBT Americans face in the public sector work place.

According to their findings, only 43% of LGBT state employees work in a state protecting gays and lesbians from on-the-job discrimination. Only 31% work in a state where gender identity is included in protections.

"This means that the majority of Americans working for state governments still do not have statutory protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," they say.

"When it comes to benefits, a majority of state employees do not work for a state that offers equal partner health insurance. Only 47 percent of state employees with same-sex partners have access to equal workplace benefits, compared to 53 percent who do not."

In addition to examining the legal aspects of these equality gaps, the study looks at something less political: dollars and cents. A taste of the survey's findings:

Contrary to commonly held stereotypes, families headed by same-sex couples make on average $15,500 less per year than families headed by opposite-sex couples. Similarly, children being raised by same-sex parents are twice as likely to live in poverty as children being raised by married opposite-sex parents.32 Whereas 9 percent of children living with heterosexual married parents are living in poverty, 21 percent of children being raised by male same-sex couples and 20 percent of children being raised by female same-sex couples live in poverty.

What’s more, transgender people also face significant economic challenges. Fifteen percent of transgender people report making less than $10,000 per year, a rate of poverty that is nearly four times that of the general population.

These socioeconomic disparities are often the direct result of workplace discrimination.

Failure to retain qualified employees introduces significant costs, not the least of which are the costs associated with replacing the departing employees. It costs anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to replace a departing hourly worker and between an estimated $75,000 and $211,000 to replace an executive-level employee.

Here is a
PDF of the entire study.


  1. ratbastard says


    I find it hard to sympathize with public sector employees no matter the sexual orientation since they on average make more $ and better bennies than comparable private sector employees. I’m like the vast majority of Americans and work as an Employee at Will in the private sector. If those public sector workers whining about how unfair life is and how they don’t make enough $ and bennies want to join the vast majority of Americans in the private sector, they’re more than welcome.

  2. Brian in Tucson says

    Ratbastard is an appropriate name for his bitter post. The point of the study is that gay workers can be fired just for being gay in many states; not the same deal for straight workers. Unfair wages and benefits? All workers should have decent pay and benefits. Some public sector employees may make more, but many (especially those with advanced degrees) make less than in the private sector. Certainly no CEO’s in the public sector get millions in stock options. No rigged pay scams like the private sector uses so that millionaires like Romney pay only 13% of their income. Ratbastard, if you are so envious of public sector workers, why don’t you get a public sector job?

  3. Bill says

    Most gay people will ignore this. There are only three responses to this post after 3.5 hours. Gay people want to believe we are rich when in fact gay people are not and are discriminated in pay at work. Gay people take on the biases of heterosexuals because they are around them all the time. It’s called attitude contagion. The attitude among heterosexuals is that gay people are worth less, don’t have kids, have a smaller circle of friends and therefore don’t need as much money as heterosexuals and gay people take on this attitude. Gay people have a very careless attitude toward gay people getting discriminated in pay.

  4. ratbastard says


    Please. Give it a rest. Public sector employees on average absolutely do have it better than comparable workers in the private sector. And if you have a federal job, lucky you!

    And Brian, these ‘public sector’ jobs tend to be quite difficult to come by due to political patronage, nepotism, quotas, etc.,

    There is real discrimination against homosexuals [and among others such as older workers,i.e. ageism] that’s rarely discussed or even admitted. However, I’m not sure using public sector workers as an example is the way to go.

  5. Francis says

    How is this not “the way to go”, Rat? First of all, working in the public sector doesn’t=rich. Let’s get that understood. What we’re seeing Rat is that blatantly discriminatory laws have a negative impact on LGBT individuals’ financial situations, which in turn harms our livelihoods. We’re forced to pay more than straights for the same benefits. And in states where there are no protections for LGBT citizens, we are generally given less money and not given raises, or flat out denied jobs, solely because of our orientation.

    A lot of LGBT folk are living the high-society life in their Manhattan complexes or in WEHO, so it causes people to be jaded and blind as to the reality THE MAJORITY of LGBT folk face, which is that we have no protections and are discriminated against, and have no way to fight against said discrimination in our home states.

  6. Derrick from Philly says

    “A lot of LGBT folk are living the high-society life in their Manhattan complexes or in WEHO, so it causes people to be jaded and blind as to the reality THE MAJORITY of LGBT folk face,…”

    Amen, Francis.

    “And Brian, these ‘public sector’ jobs tend to be quite difficult to come by due to political patronage, nepotism, quotas, etc.,…”

    Rat, what decade are you living in this week?

  7. Francis says

    Thank you, Derrick :)

    What I failed to add is that a lot of straight folk are also blind to the reality that LGBT individuals face overall because of the fact the gay people who do get the attention, the notoriety, places where our community is more vibrant, where people are more likely to be comfortably out, they’re not seeing case after case of anti-gay discrimination. Many people tend to be uncaring and, as I said, jaded, towards things that don’t affect them personally. A gay man in Seattle, for example, is not dealing with what a gay man in virtually every Southern state has to deal with. This study proves that. Which is why we all need to remember that even if you’re lucky to be in a situation/state where you don’t have to worry about being discriminated against or even fired for being gay, or work for company that offers workplace benefits, the majority of us are not so lucky.

  8. andrew says

    LGBT people should realize that they are living in the best of times, so far, for LGBT folks. Don’t whine, the LGBT people who went before you had crumbs compared to the cake you are eating. Can things get better? you bet. Fight for it but don’t fail to realize how good you have it compared to the generation of strugglers who went before you.

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