Study: LGBT people of colour amongst most disadvantaged in American workforce

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According to a new report, American LGBT workers of colour are at high risk of poverty and unemployment.

Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the American LGBT think tank, commissioned a new report to look at how LGBT people of colour face bias and prejudice based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression.

The report finds that about one-third of LGBT people in the US are people of colour.

In a 2012 Gallup poll, one in three LGBT respondents (33%) identified themselves as people of colour, compared to 27% of non-LGBT respondents. In all, there are an estimated 5.4 million LGBT workers in the United States, of which 1.8 million are people of colour.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, said: “Contrary to popular stereotypes, LGBT workers are more racially diverse than the general population, making it critical to address the unique obstacles they face.”

Also, LGBT people of colour have higher rates of unemployment compared to non-LGBT people of colour. In addition, unemployment rates for transgender people of colour have reached as high as four times the national unemployment rate.

The report finds LGBT workers of colour are at significant risk of poverty. Research shows that LGBT people of colour, and particularly black LGBT people, are at a much higher risk of poverty than non-LGBT people. For example, black same-sex couples have poverty rates at least twice the rate of black opposite-sex married couples (18% vs. 8%).

Tico Almeida, President of American LGBT organisation Freedom to Work, argued: “Fixing the broken bargain for LGBT workers of colour will help ensure that they are treated fairly no matter where they work, that they receive the same compensation for the same work, and that they can access important benefits available to other workers to protect their health and livelihood.”

Earlier this month, a bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans has passed the US Senate – but it faces immense hurdles in the House of Representatives where the Republican Party holds the balance of power.