31,800 LGBT People in Idaho Lack Statewide Protections from Ongoing Discrimination

For Immediate Release:
September 12, 2017

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

31,800 LGBT People in Idaho Lack Statewide Protections from Ongoing Discrimination

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

LOS ANGELES — Approximately 31,800 LGBT people in Idaho 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 Idaho, by Christy Mallory, State & Local Policy Director, and Brad Sears, David Sanders Distinguished Scholar, found that only 30 percent of Idaho’s adult population 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, Idaho’s statewide non-discrimination law, the Idaho Human Rights Act, protects people from discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and other personal characteristics, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Without a statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT people in Idaho are vulnerable to discrimination and experience economic disparities.

“Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act would protect tens of thousands of LGBT people in Idaho from discrimination without burdening 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 absorb these complaints without the need for additional staff or resources.”

Key findings from the report include

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

– In a 2003 survey of more than 1,100 LGBT people in Idaho, over half of the respondents said they felt they were expected to deny or hide their sexual orientation or gender identity at work, and almost 60 percent said they had been asked to do so by their employer. Almost a quarter of those surveyed reported that they believed they had been fired from a job, not promoted, or had not received compensation or a raise as a result of anti-gay attitudes in their workplace.

– In a 2011 State of Idaho survey of housing service providers in the state, 14 percent of respondents said that housing discrimination based on sexual orientation occurred frequently in their communities.

– Two national public-opinion polls conducted between 2011 and 2013 found that 78 percent of Idaho residents, both LGBT and non-LGBT, thought LGBT people experienced discrimination in the state.

– Reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Idaho have been documented in testimony to the state legislature and city councils, administrative complaints, lawsuits, and the media.

LGBT people in Idaho experience socioeconomic disparities.

– 30 percent of LGBT adults in Idaho reported having a household income below $24,000 compared to 22 percent of non-LGBT adults.

– Over one-third of LGBT adults in Idaho reported that they do not have enough money for food compared to 16 percent of non-LGBT adults.

– 27 percent of LGBT adults in Idaho reported not having enough money to meet their health care needs compared to 18 percent of non-LGBT adults.

– 9 percent of LGBT adults in Idaho reported being unemployed compared to 5 percent of non-LGBT adults.

– Research has linked 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.

– Twelve localities in Idaho have adopted broad local ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas such as private and public sector employment, housing, and public accommodations: Belleview, Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Driggs, Hailey, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, Lewiston, Moscow, Pocatello, Sandpoint and Victor.

– Approximately 30 percent of Idaho’s adult population is protected from discrimination under these 12 local ordinances. However, the local ordinances do not offer the same scope of enforcement and remedies as the statewide Idaho Human Rights Act.

– Several of Idaho’s largest corporate employers, including St. Luke’s Medical Center, Micron Technology, Battelle Energy Alliance, Plexus, and Hewlett-Packard, have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, several large public universities in Idaho, including Boise State University, Idaho State University, and the University of Idaho, have adopted policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and education. However, these policies are limited in scope and do not provide the same enforcement mechanisms as statewide non-discrimination laws.

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

– A 2014 poll of Idaho residents found that two-thirds of respondents believed it should be against state law to discriminate against LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

– A 2011 statewide poll of Idaho voters found that 78 percent of respondents favored legal protections from discrimination for LGBT people, and 93 percent of respondents thought that skill and ability should be the basis of a person’s employment, not sexual orientation or gender identity.

– In response to a 2011 national poll, 73 percent of Idaho respondents said that Congress should pass a federal law to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

– A 2008 statewide poll found that 63 percent of Idaho residents believed it should be illegal to fire an employee because they are perceived to be gay or lesbian.

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

– Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination law would result in approximately 11 additional complaints being filed with the Idaho Commission on Human Rights each year.

– The additional 11 complaints of discrimination could likely be absorbed into the existing enforcement system with no need for additional staff and negligible costs.

Full Report

Share Button