A recent survey conducted by Equality Virginia revealed that 43 percent of Virginia’s LGBTQ community have experienced some form of workplace discrimination because of their sexual orientation (SO) or gender identity (GI/E).
The organization surveyed more than 400 Virginia LGBTQ people and allies in July. Of those participants, 62 percent said they had experienced discrimination based on their identity, and 89 percent said they know someone who has been subjected to workplace discrimination.
All of this comes on the heels of of historic Virginia Values Act, which went into effect on July 1. The law protects all Virginians—including the LGBTQ community—from discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces. Equality Virginia was a leading advocate for the law. Virginia is the first and only southern state to pass such legislation.
The Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as defined in the bill. The bill also codifies for state and local government employment the current prohibitions on discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran.
Already the new law faces legal challenges. On Monday, a northern Virginia wedding photographer and a group of Christian organizations filed two different lawsuits against Virginia officials.
The attorneys representing the plaintiffs argue that the law violates their First Amendment rights and forces them to “abandon and adjust their convictions or pay crippling fines.”