US: Texas bill introduced to tackle anti-LGBT workplace discrimination

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

A bill to combat discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,  has been introduced in the US State of Texas, and despite knowing it is unlikely to pass, the bill’s proponents hope it will spark a discussion on the issue.

The Senate Bill 237, was introduced by San Antonio Democratic Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who did not expect it to pass, but hoped that it would highlight the problems with LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

“Every day, they work hard to make an honest living to support themselves and their families, and help our economy grow along the way,” Van de Putte said.

“But far too many go to work with the fear that they will lose their job based on factors that have nothing to do with their job performance or ability.”

Texas state law currently protects against employment discrimination based on race, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age. This new measure would add protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Van de Putte said it was only natural to add the protections for the LGBT community.

She described that it was possible to divide legislation introduced into three categories – those likely to pass – those with the potential to pass, but which may encounter trouble, and a third type which are unlikely to pass but which are introduced anyway because “we believe in our hearts that these policy changes are the right thing to do.”

Writing in an op-ed in the Burnt Orange Report, Van de Putte said: “We file these bills because we want to spark discussion, create momentum and make an important point.

“I find it unacceptable that qualified, hardworking Texans can be denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Support for the bill has been strong, and has generated interest on social media, particularly Twitter, with tweets for the bill using the hashtag #SB237NOW.

The bill is currently pending in the Senate Economic Development Committee, but is not expected to receive enough votes to pass to the Senate floor.

Despite strong opposition from Republican leaders, last week lawmakers in the US state of Texas scheduled bills in the House and Senate to attempt to introduce new legal protections for sexually active gay teenagers.

The state of Texas has a constitutional amendment which bans equal marriage.