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Supreme Court Affirms Federal Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBTQ Americans
Austin, Texas – June 15, 2020 – Today, in a historic decision, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that companies can’t unfairly fire or otherwise discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace. The ruling will directly improve the lives of nearly one million LGBTQ Texans and 11.5 million gay, lesbian, and bisexual people and 1.5 million transgender people living in the United States.
“Even with today’s decision, Black LGBTQ people will still face disproportionate discrimination across their lives – including in employment . Our laws need to remedy systemic racism and inequality – our movement’s pursuit of LGBTQ equality is far from done. This victory is a watershed moment for the LGBTQ community in Texas and across America, which has been working for decades to secure basic protections from discrimination. The Court’s decision will directly impact LGBTQ Texans and millions of people across the country and allow them to live their lives and take care of their families with respect and dignity,” said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas.
But, even with this landmark ruling, our work is far from done – we need the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress to catch up with the Supreme Court and the American people. LGBTQ people of color — particularly Black transgender women — face the highest rates of discrimination and, too often, violence and there are still shocking and critical gaps in our nondiscrimination laws and many LGBTQ people face harassment and mistreatment in their daily lives. In Texas, one of our brightest educators who was twice named teacher of the year faced discrimination and mistreatment not based on her job performance, but because of who she is and who she loves. It is completely unacceptable for Stacy Baileys’ life to have been turned upside down just because of her sexual orientation,” said Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas.
Stacy Bailey, a teacher from Mansfield I.S.D. in North Texas was suspended for eight months, lost her job teaching art at her elementary school and was transferred to a high school after she introduced herself to her fourth-grade class in August of 2017 with a slide show of her childhood, parents, friends and family. Included in the mix was a photo of her with her partner, Julie Vazquez, who Ms. Bailey explained at the time was her future wife. They were dressed as “Dory” and “Nemo” from the movie “Finding Nemo.”
Bailey was also silenced and threated to be fired if she commented about what happened to her. She sued after the district told her in April 2018 that she would not be allowed to return to Charlotte Anderson Elementary School and would instead be reassigned to a high school in the district.
“If a district is thinking about bullying or shaming a gay teacher out of their job, I hope they remember my name and I hope they think twice. I think it’s important for teachers like me to be able to be themselves in their workplaces without fear, particularly teachers in rural or suburban districts. Feeling safe in your workplace should not be dependent on where you live. That isolation and silencing was one of the hardest things I had to overcome. While, I am pleased about the decision from the Supreme Court today, I am also dedicated to helping pass laws at the national and state level that specifically protect people like me from being fired from my job just because of my sexual orientation or because of someone’s gender identity,” said Stacy Bailey, a teacher who was twice voted teacher of the year.
The district agreed to settle the case after Judge Sam A. Lindsay of U.S. District Court in Dallas ruled in November that there did not appear to be any legitimate reason for Ms. Bailey to have been suspended and transferred to another school, except for her sexual orientation and a desire to appease a few parents based on outdated stereotypes about gay people.
Recent data shows a majority of Americans across ideologies, age, and religious affiliation in all 50 states support passage of LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections to ensure all LGBTQ Americans can live with respect, dignity, and safety in all areas of life. With the Supreme Court leading the way, Congress and the Texas Legislature must follow suit and pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination law at the national level and pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination state law through the Texas Legislature in the next session to ensure that every single American and every single Texas is fully protected from discrimination under the law.
Equality Texas top priority in the 87th Texas Legislative Session in 2021 is to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill though the Texas House of Representatives for the first time in Texas history. This bill would extend nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Many Texans are not aware that LGBTQ people can legally be fired, refused housing, or denied services simply because of who we are. This is unkind, unfair, unequitable and unacceptable.
Currently, Texas is one of 27 states where there are no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The only way to achieve the freedom for LGBTQ people to live, work, earn a living, raise our families, and contribute fully to our communities is to pass a comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination law that protects all people, including LGBTQ people.
Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.