Keep Employment Discrimination Out of People’s Bedsheets

Karla Villegas Pineda, Opinion Editor

It should be illegal to discriminate based on sexuality, gender identity and gender expression. But it’s not. Not everywhere. And we are on the verge of either righting this terrible wrong or sending LGBTQ equality back to the dark ages.

The U.S. Supreme Court started a hearing Oct. 8 to decide whether it is illegal to discriminate against sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the workplace or for employment. A decision on this topic would impact the Civil Rights Act of 1964, under which article 7 currently prohibits discrimination based on sex.

If someone is cisgender, meaning their gender matches their biological sex, and behaves outside the social expectations for their gender, it is already illegal to discriminate against them for employment, based on a 1989 ruling of article 7. It can be argued this decision already established gender identity and gender expression as two separate things. 

Based on this, gender identity and expression for LGBT people should not be viewed any differently.

In terms of biological sex and gender identity, why should what, or who is inside someone’s pants or bedsheets matter to anyone besides the person wearing or sleeping in them? 

If someone has the experience, certifications and desired character traits, their sexuality or gender should not influence an employer about whether or not that person is a good fit for a job.

The biggest concern for the people against banning employment discrimination against trans individuals specifically is which bathroom those potential employees would use. Some say they wouldn’t be able to accomodate a gender-neutral bathroom, while others argue that trans people should not be allowed in the bathroom that reflects their gender.

At COD, there are several gender-neutral bathrooms. This means trans students and employees don’t necessarily face the struggle of having to pick a gendered bathroom to use. 

As for the business owners that are worried about this: why are you worrying about where people pee? People use toilets to take care of their business, not to harass others. Businesses should respect the gender identity of everyone and allow people to use the bathroom they feel comfortable in.

Currently, the state of Illinois does not allow employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity for business with 15 employees or more. However, in May 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that would ban discrimination in any workplace, regardless of how many employees it has. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and 27 based on gender identity, either by law or through an excecutive order. However, only 3 states–California, Rhode Island and Nevada–also ban discrimination based on gender expression.

The Supreme Court is set to reach a final decision about the Article 7 hearings by Summer 2020.