LGBTQ Women in History: Barbara Gittings

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, today we will honor Gay Rights activist Barbara Gittings.

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Image from: Barbara Gittings: Lesbian Rights Activist.

 

Born in February 1932, Barbara Gittings became a prominent figure in the early gay rights movement. Gittings was apart of the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian social organization founded by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in San Francisco in 1955. In 1963, Gittings became editor of The Ladder, a magazine published by the Daughters of Bilitis.

Gittings also helped organize gay rights demonstrations in both Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, protesting federal employment discrimination. In addition to her protests, she was also instrumental in getting homosexuality removed from the list of mental disorders in 1973. She also helped to make gay and lesbian oriented reading material more available to the public, and in 2001 GLADD created the Barbara Gittings award in her honor. The award is “given to an individual, group, or community media outlet that has made a significant contribution to the development of LGBT media.”

Gittings met Kay Lahausen in 1961; they were partners for 46 years. Gittings died of breast cancer at the age of 75 in February 2007.

References: “Barbara Gittings: Lesbian Rights Activist”

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National Employee Appreciation day

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Image from: hulschofschmidt.wordpress.com

Since March 4th is National Employee Appreciation Day, let’s talk about some of the issues LGBTQ+ individuals face in the workplace.

Discrimination in the workplace is something that many LGBTQ people face. According to the Center for American Progress, “15 to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace;” that number jumps to 90 percent for transgender people.

These numbers are concerning for many reasons; aside from the fact that everyone is entitled to have their basic human rights respected regardless of their identity or sexual orientation, everyone deserves the right to earn a living without the fear of being harassed or fired for who they are.

Often times when we think about the wage gap, we assume the context is the wage gap between men and women but women are not the only ones affected by it. There is also a wage gap between LGBTQ and heterosexual employees. Gay employees make less than heterosexual employees and transgender employees make even less. Because of work discrimination and the wage gap, LGBTQ individuals experience high poverty rates than their heterosexual counterparts.

Many people believe that the public knowledge of their gender identity and sexual orientation has no place in a work environment because it is personal information; many of their heterosexual coworkers agree. Statistics from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation states that “53 percent of all LGBT workers nationwide hide who they are in the workplace.”

In 2013, Congress passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which “prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees.”

While the country has been making great progress in the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, there is still an extreme amount of progress left to be made and as a society we need to work together to achieve full acceptance.

References: Center for American Progress, Wikipedia, The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion: Why the Workplace Environment for LGBT People Matters for Employers – Human Rights Campaign Foundation.