Millions of LGBT people would gain civil rights protections under the Equality Act

For immediate release
March 12, 2019

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Rachel Dowd
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New estimates on the number of LGBT people who would gain protections from discrimination in employment, education, public accommodations, housing and credit if Congress enacts the Equality Act

Tomorrow, bipartisan members of Congress are expected to introduce the Equality Act, federal legislation that would expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, education, public accommodations, housing, credit and other settings. There are an estimated 13 million people ages 13 and older who identify as LGBT in the U.S.

“The Equality Act would make crystal clear that discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited under federal law and would help to remedy the widespread harassment and discrimination that LGBT people experience at work, school, and when trying to get basic services and goods,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Executive Director of the Williams Institute.

The Equality Act would provide federal civil rights protections to all LGBT people in the country but would be especially beneficial to those living in places without state-level protections. According to new analyses by the Williams Institute:

  • There are approximately 8.1 million LGBT workers, ages 16 and older, in the U.S. An estimated 4.1 million of them live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment.
  • There are over 3.5 million LGBT students, ages 15 and older, in the U.S. An estimated 2.1 million of them live in states without statutory protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at school.
  • There are approximately 13 million LGBT people, ages 13 and older, in the U.S. An estimated 6.9 million of them live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.
  • There are approximately 11 million LGBT adults, ages 18 and older, in the U.S. An estimated 5.6 million of them live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in housing.
  • An estimated 8 million LGBT adults live in states without statutes prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in credit.
  • LGBT people would also gain protections under the Equality Act from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in jury service and federally funded programs.

Read the full analysis, including national and state-level estimates.

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