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Study: Over Half of LGBT Employees Closeted at Work

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The LGBT community prefers to keep their gender and sexual identities to themselves.

A study by the Human Rights Campaign revealed that 46 percent of LGBT workers stay in the closet at work — only down four percent from the last 2008 report.

“While LGBTQ-inclusive corporate policies are becoming the norm, LGBTQ workers too often face a climate of bias in their workplace,” said Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program. “LGBTQ employees are still avoiding making personal and professional connections at work because they fear coming out - and that hurts not only that employee, but the company as a whole.”

Titled “A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide,” the study “seeks to uncover the prevalence of LGBTQ workers feeling pressure to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity on the job and the cost of that hiding both to individuals and employers writ large.”

And the pressures come in many forms: one in five LGBT workers report that they were told — or hinted at — to dress more masculine or feminine. Over half (53 percent) of these workers also reported hearing jokes about gay and lesbian people “at least once in a while.”

They also reported the most important reasons they don’t report these comments are “they don’t think anything would be done about it and because they don't want to hurt their relationships with coworkers.”

To help LGBT workers feel more comfortable in the workplace, Fidas offers this strategy: “Even the best-of-the-best private sector employers with top-rated policies and practices must do more to nurture a climate of inclusion for all.”


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