Discrimination against Law Enforcement Officers on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: 2000 to 2013

By Brad Sears, Amira Hasenbush, Christy Mallory
November 2013

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in law enforcement face pervasive discrimination. The new report updates a 2009 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.

Click here for the full report.

Click here for the press release.