LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Targeted

Allison Park PhotoWhen IV Staklo started working in the food service, they faced not only threats of physical and sexual assult by coworkers but also hourly cuts by their employers, all because of their identity as a non-binary person.

Staklo told that story over coffee and donuts Tuesday morning to New Haven U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro at a roundtable the Congresswoman convened at Barracuda Bistro & Bar on Chapel Street for LGBTQ+ business owners and community leaders to discuss concerns regarding workplace protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

DeLauro described workplace discrimination as a “serious, serious problem.” While “we have a lot of problems, don’t get me wrong,” she is optimistic that “we have made some progress,” she told the group.

“We have to push forward” and “make the fight to speak out,” she said to the table of 15 local business owners.

Staklo, who works as the Hotline Program Director at Trans Lifeline, was the only trans attendee.

“In the books there are no-discrimination laws,” Staklo said. But Staklo’s employers found “not so direct and open ways” to make them feel uncomfortable, including pressuring their coworkers to abuse them. “It happens on the down low. Abuse happens behind the scenes,” and when an organization doesn’t have a “union or employee unity,” trans people get the “shortest end of the stick.”

“Three fifths of Americans can be fired for being gay or trans,” said DeLauro; “2.2 million trans people struggled to put food on the table.”

In response, DeLauro has been pushing for the Equality Act, which seeks to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation” among other reasons.

DeLauro heard about other challenges facing the community. New Haven Pride Center Executive Director Patrick Dunn said that 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ+. A “disproportionately high rate” of youth are “kicked out of homes” for coming out to their families, which he called surprising for Connecticut, a politically “blue” state. Homeless shelters are so unsafe for trans youth, that they would “rather sleep on the streets,” said real estate agent and Unite Here organizer Sarah Locke.

Despite the social phobias towards LGBTQ+ youth, local business owner Colin Sheehan said that “kids are so accepting” and suggested that “the adults and elderly need to be educated and informed”.” Connor Thorpe from Save the Children immediately agreed with Sheehan and said that “kids really are our future.”

Thorpe said he and his fiancee are “proud of who [they] are” and strive to “be visible” and “be a good example” in combatting the gay stigma.

Our True Colors board member Barry Walters said that as a gay man, he’s constantly“assessing [his] environment” and asking himself questions like “Who are my allies?” and “Who do I avoid?” As Walters said this, several nods of acknowledgment and hums of approval rippled throughout the group.

The conversation took another turn when Staklo commended Planned Parenthood for its work in creating an unthreatening healthcare environment through use of “adequate and accurate language.” Staklo maintained that trans individuals face assault and abuse in traditional hospitals and healthcare centers, and many doctors result to the diagnosis of the “trans broken arm system,” where doctors blame the trans person’s ailment on identity and use of hormones.

“Men get mammograms; women get prostate exams,” said Staklo, suggesting that healthcare professionals be “educated to the fullest possible capacity” in order to the trans fear of medical abuse. “It can make a huge difference.” 

DeLauro said that the recent Supreme Court decision to vote in favor of a bakery that refused services to a gay couple was a “narrow ruling.”

“I don’t think we can rely on the courts alone,” she concluded.

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posted by: MCGA on June 12, 2018  2:06pm

Either NHI or Patrick Dunn should do some fact checking. The actual stat from one study is that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT+ and NOT 40% of LGBT+ youth are homeless. Big difference.
See: https://truecolorsfund.org/our-issue/

posted by: 1644 on June 12, 2018  8:33pm

Yes, that seemed a highly questionable statistic to me.  None of my homosexual friends have ever been homeless.  Moreover, they have all had successful careers, earning healthy six and seven figure salaries.  Of course, they are more Felix Unger and Will Truman than Jack McFarland, and certainly don’t have faddish hair or clothing.

posted by: Patrick Dunn on June 12, 2018  10:47pm

MCGA : I was misquoted - the statistic is that I spoke about is: “Approximately 40% of homeless youth in Connecticut self identify as LGBTQ+ which is higher than the national average of approximately 35%.” I also went on to say that this statistic is very high considering we are in a state where 3.9% of the population self identifies as LGBTQ+ which is lower than the national average of closer to 5%. These statistics were taken from studies conducted by three sources. The ones related to percentage of youth that is LGBTQ+ self identifying is from True Colors, Inc a LGBTQ+ youth service organization based in Hartford and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. The statistic on LGBTQ+ self identifying population is taken from the The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law study.

1644: I’m glad to hear that your friends have that experience but that is not the experience of many LGBTQ+ individuals particularly LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender and gender non-confirming individuals. There have been multiple cases in Connecticut of people being discriminated against.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 13, 2018  12:16pm

The timing of this event seems very limited to, say, those working?

How does one find out about this kind of meeting?

I feel like there are lots of LGBTQ working people in New Haven who were not aware and/or could attend due to the time.

posted by: JCFremont on June 14, 2018  9:18am

I suppose because I’ve been working and known “different” people I’ve seen changes in exceptance since the early 1980’s and “youth’s” have been tossed out of homes and fired for various reasons so each generation seems to think that this is new. “Misfits” 1978 by Ray Davies “You’ve been sleeping in a field, but you look real rested. You set out to outrage, but you can’t get arrested. You say your image is new but it looks well tested. Your lost without a crowd, yet you go your own way…..

posted by: 1644 on June 14, 2018  10:48am

Mr.  Dunn:  Outside of entertainment and the arts,  non-conformity by anyone is not career enhancing.  My friends’ sexual orientation isn’t expressed in non-conformity, but in greater conformity.  Their ties are straighter, their suits better tailored, and their workplaces better organized than folks.