LGBT People File Public Accommodations Discrimination Complaints as Often as People of Color, Women, New Study Shows

For Immediate Distribution
Feb. 16, 2016

Contact:
Lauren Jow, jow@law.ucla.edu, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — LGBT people use sexual orientation and gender identity public accommodations non-discrimination laws as frequently as people of color and women use race and sex non-discrimination laws, according to a new analysis of complaints filed with state enforcement agencies conducted by Christy Mallory, senior counsel, and Brad Sears, executive director, at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Across the 16 states that provided complaint data, the average filing rates for LGBT people are slightly higher, but similar to race discrimination filings by people of color and sex discrimination filings by women. The findings refute the argument that discrimination against LGBT people does not occur often enough to establish a need for protective laws.

“Because the LGBT population is relatively small, however, the raw number of sexual orientation and gender identity complaints filed is low,” Mallory said. “Therefore, passing non-discrimination laws that protect LGBT adults would not overwhelm state enforcement agencies and courts with complaints.”

The study, titled “Evidence of Discrimination in Public Accommodations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: An Analysis of Complaints Filed with State Enforcement Agencies, 2008-2014,” examined complaints filed based on sexual orientation or gender identity, race, and sex and adjusted them by the number of adults most likely to experience each type of discrimination – LGBT people, people of color and women.

Key findings from the report include:

• Nationally, on average, four complaints of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public accommodations are filed for every 100,000 LGBT adults each year.

• Race discrimination complaints are filed at a slightly lower rate of three complaints for every 100,000 adults of color annually.

• Sex discrimination complaints are filed at a slightly lower rate of one complaint for every 100,000 women annually.

• Previous research on employment and housing discrimination found that people of color file complaints at a similar, but slightly higher, rate than LGBT people, and women file complaints at a slightly lower rate.

Data on discrimination complaints were collected from 16 of the 21 states that have state-level laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The states included in this study were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

Click here for the full report.