Diversidad, Dignidad y Trabajo: Ensuring Protections for the LGBT Community in the Workplace
Posted on 11/03/2015 @ 11:45 PM
Dr. Lydia Medrano, third from right, spoke on the legal protections needed in the workplace to protect the LGBT community.
By: Dr. Lydia Medrano, LULAC National Vice President for the Southeast
In September, I served as a panelist for a forum called Diversidad, Dignidad y Trabajo that took place in Tampa, Florida. I was one of four panelists who discussed the topic of the right to work with dignity, which refers to the right of every individual to obtain employment without the fear of discrimination. The forum was a collaboration between Florida LULAC, ACLU Central Florida Region and Ana G. Mendez Tampa University. The other panelists included EEOC representative Nelson Borges, human resources representative Carmen Alverio and psychologist/university faculty member Rafael Fuentes.
I told the audience of students and the general public that the right to work is not a class, gender or nationality “privilege”, but a right afforded to all citizens. Everyone has a right to work in order to support themselves and their families. People should be valued for their job performance skills as well as the quality of their work. Nobody should feel unfairly targeted or singled out for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Full equality for LGBTQ individuals is one of the major civil rights challenges of our time. Although LGBTQ individuals have always been part of our society; now,they are much more visible and engaged in ensuring their civil rights are protected.
The LGBT community recently achieved a major civil rights victory with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Despite this victory, we must not remain blind to other types of discrimination that the LGBT community faces on a daily basis. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is discrimination, and an individual's identity should be protected by law in all fifty states. The laws must clearly define discrimination in order to be enforceable and prevent hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace.
Additionally, we must continue to work to address the issue of bullying, homelessness, and an end to the detention of Latinos. All of these are issues that affect both straight and gay Latinos and it is in these intersections where we must build coalitions to achieve change and progress.
Prejudice is a human phenomenon caused by suspicion and distrust of people that do not meet our personal, nor our societal expectations. We must educate the public on the diversity of our society and the positive contributions it brings to our culture. Concurrently, we must also show the negative impact of discrimination on the social fabric of our nation. Everyone deserves respect, and everyone should be able to work with dignity and have the opportunity to contribute to our communities without being penalized for who they are.