15,100 LGBT People in Wyoming Lack Statewide Protections from Ongoing Discrimination

For Immediate Release:
September 12, 2017

Media Contact:
Rachel Dowd
dowd@law.ucla.edu
(310) 206-8982

15,100 LGBT People in Wyoming Lack Statewide Protections from Ongoing Discrimination

Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s existing non-discrimination laws would protect LGBT residents and would not be costly or burdensome for the state to enforce

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 15,100 LGBT people in Wyoming are vulnerable to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The report, titled Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Wyoming, by State & Local Policy Director Christy Mallory and Brad Sears, David Sanders Distinguished Scholar, found that only 6 percent of Wyoming’s adult population and workforce is covered by local non-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. This report is part of the Williams Institute’s ongoing examination of the 28 US states that do not include sexual orientation and gender identity in their statewide non-discrimination laws.

Currently, Wyoming’s statewide non-discrimination laws protect people from discrimination in employment and public accommodations based on race, sex, disability, and other personal characteristics, but do not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Without a statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT people in Wyoming are vulnerable to discrimination and experience economic disparities.

“Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Wyoming’s non-discrimination laws would protect thousands of LGBT people from discrimination without burdening the courts or state agencies,” said State & Local Policy Director Christy Mallory. “Our research indicates that there would be only a handful of new complaints each year, and the existing enforcement system could handle these complaints without the need for additional staff or resources.”

Key findings from the report include

LGBT people in Wyoming report discrimination and harassment in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other settings.

– In a recent survey of LGBT people in Wyoming, more than one-third of respondents reported that they had experienced workplace harassment, and one-quarter said they had experienced employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

– Another survey in of LGB people in Wyoming found that 29 percent of respondents reported that they had been discriminated against in employment opportunities; 20 percent reported that they had been terminated from a job; and 17 percent reported they had experienced housing discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

– Aggregated data from two public opinion polls conducted between 2011 and 2013 found that 78 percent of Wyoming residents thought LGBT people experienced discrimination in the state.

– Reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Wyoming have been documented in administrative complaints, lawsuits, reports to community-based organizations, and the media.

LGBT people in Wyoming experience socioeconomic disparities.

– In Wyoming, nearly one-third of LGBT adults (32 percent) reported having an annual household income below $24,000 compared to 18 percent of non-LGBT adults.

– Research has linked greater socioeconomic disparities for LGBT people to a lack of legal protections from discrimination and less supportive social attitudes toward LGBT people.

Local governments, private employers, and public universities have made efforts to prevent discrimination and harassment, but coverage is incomplete.

– Laramie is the only locality in Wyoming with a broad local ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Cheyenne and Jackson, have policies that prohibit discrimination against their own city government employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

– Laramie’s ordinance protects approximately 6 percent of Wyoming’s adult population and workforce from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

– At least four of the large private-sector employers in Wyoming—Halliburton, Rio Tinto Energy, Lowe’s, and Walmart—prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, the University of Wyoming prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, these policies are limited in scope and do not provide the same enforcement mechanisms as statewide non-discrimination laws.

Public opinion in Wyoming supports the passage of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

– In a statewide 2014 poll, 62 percent of respondents said they were in favor of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s employment non-discrimination law.

– In a 2011 national poll, 69 percent of Wyoming respondents said Congress should pass a federal law to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

A statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Wyoming would not be administratively burdensome or costly to enforce.  

– Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination laws would result in approximately four additional complaints being filed with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services each year.

– The additional four complaints of discrimination could likely be absorbed into the existing system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Full Report

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