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A new Harris poll shows that even the majority of heterosexual Americans believe that job performance is what is important, not sexual orientation or gender identity.  The pdf of the press release and report is here.

The 2011 Out and Equal in the Workplace Survey reveals that 74% of heterosexuals somewhat agree (9%) or strongly agree (65%) that employees should be judged on how well they do their job rather than their sexual orientation.  54% either strongly agree (38%) or somewhat agree (16%) to the same statement with regards to gender identity.  For sexual orientation 4% disagree, 7% neither agree nor disagree and 16% believe the question to be not applicable or declined to answer.  For gender identity 11% disagree 21% neither agree nor disagree and 14% believed the question not applicable or declined to answer it.

That might not sound as good for transpeople, but wait.  When transgender was defined before asking how one stood, the numbers rose from the numbers for "gender identity," a concept which those surveyed may have found nebulous.  74% of heterosexuals, 92% of gays and lesbians and 91% of GLBT people agreed with the following statement:

How an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender.

5% of heterosexuals (3% of gays and lesbians and 2% of GLBT people) disagreed with the statement.  11% of heterosexuals (3% of G/L, 5% of GLBT) neither agreed nor disagreed.  The remainder either thought the statement not applicable or declined to answer.

I'm at a total loss as to what "not applicable" means here.  Would that be people who do not believe in the existence of transpeople or what?

GLBT people were also asked their views.  Not surprisingly 94% of gays and lesbians agreed that performance should be the judgment criterion rather than sexual orientation, while 2% disagreed, 2% neither agreed nor disagreed and 3% believed the question to be not applicable.  When bis and transpeople were included, GLBT favored the statement 88% of the time, disagreed with it 4% of the time, neither agreed nor disagreed at 5% and chose either not applicable or declined to answer 3% of the time.

90% of gays and lesbians agreed that job performance should trump gender identity, with 3% disagreeing, 5% on the fence and 2% choosing N/A.  When expanded to GLBT, the numbers were 77% in agreement, 6% disagreeing, 15% on the fence, and 2% choosing N/A or declining to answer.

Unfortunately 76% of heterosexual people already believe it is illegal by federal law for an employer to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian or transgender, while 7% thought that it was legal and 17% were not sure.  An astounding 44% of gays and lesbians thought there was federal legal protection, which grew to 66% when bisexuals and transpeople were included.  42% of gays and lesbians knew there was no such federal legal protection (25% of GLBTs) while 13% (10% of GLBTs) were unsure.

I suppose if someone were to wonder why ENDA doesn't even come up for a vote, we would need to look no further than at those numbers.

Bathroom usage was more problematic.  Only 52% of heterosexuals agreed with the following statement:

If a person is transgender, and has made the physical transition from a man to a woman, this person should be able to use the women's restroom.

87% of gays and lesbians agreed and 82% of GLBT people.  Disagreement was at 13% for heterosexuals, 3% for gays and lesbians and 5% for GLBT people as a whole.  23% of heterosexuals neither agreed nor disagreed (7% G/L and 11% GLBT).  The remainder again thought the question not applicable or declined to answer.

A similar question was not asked about transgender men.  To be inclusive (I guess), Harris asked agreement with this statement instead:

If a person was born female, but now identifies as male, this person should be allowed to wear appropriate clothing for men to work, provided it conforms with dress code policies for men's apparel.

Agreement among heterosexuals was at 57%, disagreement at 11%, on the fence at 20%, and refuse to think about it at 12%.  For gays and lesbians, those numbers were 83%, 6%, 8% and 2%.  For GLBT people they were 79%, 5%, 13% and 2%.

There were also questions about degree of outness in regards to sexual orientation.  83% of GLBT people were open about their sexual orientation with close friends (up 7% from last year and 10% in the past two years), 61% with brothers and sisters (+9% over 2010 and +11% over the past two years), 55% are out to parents (+5%, +9%), 52% to casual friends and acquaintances (even with last year, +3% over 2009), 48% are out to other relatives(+10%, +6%), 48% are out to coworkers and/or colleagues (+6%, +7%), 40% are out to their boss or manager (+4%, +6%), 26% are out to their human resource staff, 22% are out at their place of worship (+3%, +5%) and 37% are out in some other context (+10%, +7%).  8% are out to nobody, down from 13% last year and 21% in 2009.

When transpeople are excluded, the numbers increase dramatically.  The numbers, broken down by G, L and B are available at the link above.  They would jump even further if they weren't weighed down by bisexuals, who were even less out than transpeople tend to be.

For anyone interested, the Out and Equal Summit concluded today in Dallas.  There were 2600 people in attendance, including executives, human resource people, diversity professionals, employee resource groups and GLBT people and allies.  The 2011 Outie Awards were announced yesterday, honoring Accenture with the Workplace Excellence Award, Claudia Woody of IBM as Trailblazer for Workplace Equality, Dr. Sophie Vandebroek of Xerox as Champion for Workplace Equality, The LGBT Pride Resource Group of Bank of America as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Employee Resource Group of the Year, Google, Inc. for Significant Achievement in Workplace Equality, Out and Equal Houston as Regional Affiliate of the Year and Brian McNaught  as first ever recipient of the Selisse Berry Leadership Award.

Originally posted to Milk Men And Women on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by TransAction.

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