On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law forbids workplace discrimination on the basis of sex and protects gay and transgender employees. The decision means that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects members of the LGBTQ+ community for being fired simply for being themselves.
This is huge news. The court's 6-3 ruling means that "an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII."
Simply put: This ruling protects individuals and families from harmful discrimination.
This is considered to be the most significant victory for LGBTQ+ rights since gay marriage was upheld in 2015.
Justice Neil Gorsuch (President Donald Trump's first nominee to the court) explained it like this: "Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."
This means that if a person who identifies as queer or trans is fired just because they are LGBTQ+, they'll be able to sue. But more than that, it means employers will think twice before discriminating against employees.
LGBTQ+ parents should not have to worry about workplace discrimination on top of everything else. No one should have to worry that simply being themselves would open them up to being terminated at work.
Unfortunately, the battle for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people is far from over. The ruling on Title VII comes just days after the Trump administration announced it is rolling back healthcare protections for people who are transgender. The previous administration had changed health care guidelines to protect people from discrimination based on gender identity, "which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female."
Last week, a new rule defined sex discrimination as something that can happen to people only on the basis of being male of female. In a statement, the US Department of Health and Human Services explained it "will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government's interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology."
This opens trans people up to discrimination to the point that they could be denied medical attention. Black trans people are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized in society and rights groups are worried that this roll-back puts lives at risk.