Washington, D.C. — This generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth is unlike any previous generation. While individual experiences vary, many are coming out earlier and expressing their gender identity and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, unemployment for young people under age 25 has been more than twice the national average for years, and the challenges facing young people generally are exacerbated in the LGBT community.
In conjunction with Generation Progress’s Make Progress National Summit, the Center for American Progress and Generation Progress have released a report outlining the barriers that LGBT youth in the Millennial generation face in the workplace and offering policy recommendations lawmakers can consider to improve the economic security of LGBT youth.
“It’s clear that LGBT Millennials face high pressures and discrimination in this economy based solely on their identities,” said Zenen Jaimes Pérez, Policy Advocate for Generation Progress. “This report shows the barriers LGBT youth face when entering the workforce and provides policy solutions that would help bring down abnormally high rates of poverty and homelessness in the community. Federal workplace protections are just a start, and young LGBT individuals deserve a fair shot to succeed.”
According to a 2012 Gallup survey, 6.4 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 self-identify as LGBT, more than double the rate for those ages 30 to 49. While a pending executive order would ban discrimination against LGBT workers of all ages at employers that receive federal contracts, there is no such legislation that provides explicit protections for all LGBT workers. The combined threat of discrimination and an already weak employment market create even greater challenges for LGBT youth to enter and succeed in the workplace.
The report, titled “Left Behind: How LGBT Young People Are Excluded from Economic Prosperity,” offers specific policy recommendations that would improve the ability of LGBT youth to enter and advance in the workplace, lowering instances of poverty and homelessness among the community, strengthening the middle class, and enhancing job security for thousands of young people. These recommendations include:
Passing federal legislation that bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers and lowering the eligibility age limit from 25 to 18
Raising the minimum wage
Guaranteeing paid family and medical leave
Increasing investments in job-training and employment programs
Increasing data collection, including federal and state surveys to gather sexual orientation and gender identity data to assist researchers
Eliminating educational barriers for LGBT youth by passing legislation to reduce discrimination and bullying in schools and working with state and local governments to promote alternative disciplinary policies