Anti-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals: surveying the legal landscape

Download ReportWhat is the current state of the law for LGBT rights at the federal and state level? Following an event hosted this spring by SVCF and Gill Foundation at SVCF’s Mountain View headquarters, in which this question was discussed, many at SVCF wanted to know more about the issue.

At the April event, which featured former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and was attended by SVCF donors and corporate partners, attendees learned that despite some recent civil rights victories for LGBT individuals, anti-discrimination protections at the state level vary widely, and federal protections are an inconsistent patchwork.

To address the issue in more detail, SVCF and Gill Foundation funded the completion of a memorandum, Overview of Current Anti-Discrimination, by the Washington, D.C.-based legal firm WIlmerHale.

Among the memo’s points of information:

  • Aside from hate crimes legislation, Congress has never enacted a civil rights statute explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Most LGBT anti-discrimination protections are based on actions such as executive orders or court decisions;
  • In the realm of education, the only federal protection for LGBT students were U.S. Department of Education guidance letters stating that discrimination on the basis of gender identity amounts to unlawful sex discrimination. But the Trump Administration rescinded those pieces of guidance in February.
  • About 20 states offer some protection against discrimination for LGBT people in public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, theaters, etc.), but there is no such protection at the federal level.

The full document contains detailed information about protections for the LGBT community – or lack thereof – in the areas of health care, housing, access to credit and more. This information may be of interest to charitably minded individuals seeking to make a difference to civil rights causes.