APA lauds Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBT workers
Laws aimed at reducing stigma, discrimination improve employee health, APA president says.
WASHINGTON — Following is a statement from APA President Sandra L. Shullman, PhD, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gay and transgender workers are protected by federal law from discrimination on the basis of sex:
“This is a victory for all Americans who value equality and fairness. Psychological research has found that LGBT individuals are often stigmatized for not conforming to sex-role stereotypes. Sexual and gender minority individuals already experience higher rates of physical and mental health problems than do heterosexuals.”
“When laws are enacted to prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender individuals, research has shown that health outcomes, both mental and physical, improve. Workplaces that have adopted LGBT-supportive policies have also benefited from improved health among those employees, as well as greater job commitment, job satisfaction and productivity.”
The decision involved three federal employment cases, heard by the court in October 2019, in which individuals were fired after revealing their sexual or gender identities in the workplace. In two of the cases (Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County) the individuals were fired for being gay and in the third (G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC), the individual was fired for coming out as transgender.
APA, along with the American Psychiatric Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Georgia, Michigan and New York Psychological Associations submitted an amicus brief in support of the employees.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The issue before the court was whether this ban on sex discrimination also forbids employment discrimination against sexual and gender minorities.
APA’s amicus brief presented the court with scientific literature regarding gender and sexuality that supports the understanding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is discrimination based on a person’s sex. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins that discrimination in the workplace based on failure to conform with gender stereotypes constituted sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
In 1975, the American Psychological Association first called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that had been attributed to lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations. APA supports legislative, administrative and regulatory solutions that promote equality for, and combat discrimination against, sexual and gender minorities.