An LGBTQ Job Fair Is Being Held In Chicago On Sept. 16 & These Facts About LGBTQ Employment Discrimination Show Why It's So Important

It's time to rejoice, LGBTQ community! An awesome LGBTQ job fair is being held in Chicago on Sept. 16, 2016. The organization behind the job fair is the Windy City Times, who with the help of numerous LGBTQ organizations including Lambda Legal, Out & Equal Chicagoland, and Pride Action Tank, has operated the job fair since 2014. As of right now, over 70 companies will be participating in the fair. And while it's true that this is just one job fair in one city, the fact that it's happening in the first place is important. It paves the way for more cities and towns to follow suit — and there are definitely tons of reasons that they should exist all over the country.

As Tracy Baim, editor and publisher of the Windy City Times, explains at The Advocate, the LGBTQ job fair aims to provide opportunities for all aspects of the queer community. "We are trying to provide a resource for jobs at all levels, from those first entering the workforce to senior manager to part-time work for seniors," she says, stressing the point that we all have a "true right to work and to find work that feeds our soul while also paying our bills."

While LGBTQ rights and protections have gotten better in recent years, there is still a long battle ahead of the queer community — and one aspect of LGBTQ rights that desperately requires action concerns LGBTQ employment protections. While certain identities are protected against discrimination under federal law, such as your sex, race, and age, sexual orientation and gender identity are not actually protected in the same way. That's right: At this point in time, protections for LGBTQ employees are decisions made by individual states, not the federal government. This means that for queer people, moving to a different state (or in some cases, even a different city) can put you at risk for losing your livelihood.

Unfortunately, it is often not feasible for people to uproot their lives and move to states that offer better protections. That's why it's so important to have fair, equal, and consistent legislation and protections across the board, because our rights shouldn't end when we cross state lines.

And that's just one reason the Windy City Times' job fair is so important. Here are a few more key facts to know about LGBTQ employment discrimination, because knowledge is always power when it comes to working toward positive changes.

1. 28 States Can Fire You For Being Gay

Only 22 states and the District of Columbia offer explicit protections against employment discrimination for the LGBTQ community. That's right: In 28 states, you can still be fired for identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. This means that you could literally get married to your same-sex partner in the morning and be fired in the evening.

2. 32 States Can Fire You For Being Transgender

If you identify as transgender, the numbers can look even more bleak. Only 18 states plus the District of Columbia currently protect employees against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This means that in 32 states, there are no state laws which protect transgender employees against discrimination.

3. Transgender Employees Face A Shocking Amount Of Harassment At Work

In a 2011 survey the National Center for Transgender Equality, 78 percent of transgender employees reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity. The Human Rights Campaign reports that one in five transgender employees experience outright discrimination because of their gender identity.

4. Many LGBTQ People Report Feeling Treated Unfairly In Hiring, Pay, And Promotion Decisions

According to a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of LGBTQ respondents had been treated unfairly by an employer with regard to hiring, pay, or promotions. Given that this is nearly a quarter of respondents, this number is pretty horrific.

At the end of the day, these statistics are a real wake up call and reminder that while we have made awesome progress in terms of LGBTQ rights, we still have a long way to go. Talking about these issues helps us to raise awareness and hopefully put plans into action to give the queer community all the rights and protections it desperately needs. One great example of putting plans into action is, of course, the LGBTQ job fair being held in Chicago this month. Let's hope more cities take part in this awesome idea to help the queer community!

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