Federal employees will be protected from workplace discrimination on basis of gender identity

Last night at the White House's Pride Month Reception, President Obama spoke to dozens of LGBT leaders from across the country, including GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, about the numerous improvements in policy positioned toward the LGBT community during his administration.

The President also unveiled plans to sign two executive orders that will prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation by federal contractors, as well as protect federal employees from gender identity discrimination.

These two executive orders will provide much greater workplace protections. Currently, transgender people face high rates of workplace discrimination. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, only 37% of Americans live in an area of the United States that bans employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.

President Obama added:

I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  Right now, there are more states that let same-sex couples get married than there are states who prohibit discrimination against their LGBT workers.  We have laws that say Americans can’t be fired on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion, or because they have a disability.  But every day, millions of Americans go to work worried that they could lose their job -– not because of anything they’ve done, but because of who they are.  It’s upsetting.  It is wrong.

The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it’s the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent.  And I agree.  So if Congress won’t act, I will.  I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

And I’ve asked my staff to prepare a second executive order so that federal employees –- who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation –- will now formally be protected from discrimination based on gender identity as well.

So we’ve got a lot to be proud of, but obviously we can’t grow complacent.  We’ve got to defend the progress that we’ve made.  We’ve got to keep on reaching out to LGBT Americans who are vulnerable and alone, and need our support – whether it’s teenagers in rough situations to seniors who are struggling to find housing and care. We’ve got to keep fighting for an AIDS-free generation, and for the human rights of LGBT persons around the world.    

President Obama speaks at Pride Month Celebration