The Children’s Defense Fund is proud to be among the advocacy organizations who today included our voice in a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that uplifts this powerful message: Employment discrimination against LGBTQ people harms children. The brief, submitted by pro bono counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP and the Southern Poverty Law Center, urges the Court to rule in favor of LGBTQ employees who have confronted workplace discrimination.
The Supreme Court will soon weigh in on whether the prohibition on discrimination “because of sex” found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The stakes are high—the effects of workplace discrimination and unemployment are felt by not just by individual workers, but their children and their communities.
Workplace discrimination, poverty and harm to children are all tightly knitted together. When parents don’t get hired, don’t get promoted or lose their jobs because they are the targets of discrimination, the families and children they support keenly feel the loss of income. Unemployment and unstable employment are key drivers of child poverty, and child poverty hurts children’s health, development and ability to learn.
What’s more, children hurt when discrimination prevents them from having access to mentors with diverse experiences, worldviews and perspectives. The brief makes the point that there are many sectors where an LGBTQ’s employee’s perspective is essential to the populations they serve—including workplaces like schools, hospitals, child welfare settings and adoption agencies. In one of the consolidated cases before the Court, a child welfare services coordinator was fired when his employer learned he is gay. Untold young people lost his guidance and care. And untold LGBTQ children in the child welfare system lost the fellowship of an adult who uniquely understood their experiences.
More than 3.2 million LGBTQ Americans are currently raising children. They are already facing workplace discrimination at an alarming rate. Now is the time for the Court to shore up protections for these families and rule decisively in favor of LGBTQ workers.