SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Almost half of all LGBTQ workers didn’t reveal their true sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, according to a survey.
“The professional gay community is a very under-served, misunderstood audience who have a unique and specific set of challenges. Discrimination, homophobia, and self-hatred can lead to a higher risk of suicide and/or addiction,” Gabe Deremiens, a Toronto-based IT project manager and the founder of the 10% Circle, stated in a press release to KRON4 News. “And even without any negativity being present, suicide and addiction can often result merely due to their own fear of how others may perceive them if they find out they are gay, and the need to feel acceptance in the workplace; something most of us take for granted.”
Deremiens, who is gay, stated he is trying to “teach professional gay men to fight stereotypes and lean into their strengths of confidence, communcation and their inner game to become authentic leaders.”
He quoted from the Human Rights Campaign’s report “A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide,” which found in 2018 that 46% of LGBTQ workers are closeted at work, only down four percentage points from 2008.
Only 54% of non-LGBTQ workers said they’d be comfortable speaking with an LGBTQ co-worker.
“Of those who wouldn’t be very comfortable, a majority said it was because they ‘didn’t want to hear about their coworker’s sex life,'” the report stated.
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“Many work hard to evade questions about family life for fear that revealing their sexuality will make work relations difficult,” the press release stated.
The report also found that over a quarter, 28%, of LGBTQ workers lied about their personal life at work and a majority, 53%, reported jokes about gay and lesbian people in the workplace (only 37% of non-LGBTQ counterparts reported remembering the same jokes).
LGBTQ workers also lacked faith in accountability systems, with 45% agreeing “with the statement that enforcement of the non-discrimination policy is dependent on their supervisor’s own feelings towards LGBTQ people.”
The top reasons LGBTQ people remained closeted at work were fear of being stereotyped (38%), fear of making people uncomfortable (36%), fear of losing connections or relationships with coworkers (31%) and fear people might think they are attracted to them (27%).
Fifty-nine percent of non LGBTQ workers reported that they “think it is unprofessional to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace,” though this number was down from 2012, when that number was 75%.
The survey was based on a sample of 804 LGBTQ workers and 811 non-LGBTQ workers.
Since the United States Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, it has been illegal nationwide to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.