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Study: Nebraska Lags Nation in LGBTQ Equality

The number of states that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students in schools nearly doubled between 2010 and 2020, from nine to 15. (William Murphy/Flickr)
The number of states that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students in schools nearly doubled between 2010 and 2020, from nine to 15. (William Murphy/Flickr)
February 13, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. -- This year the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide three cases that could determine whether or not federal discrimination protections apply to LGBTQ workers, and a new report maps how widely protections vary across the nation.

The report's author, Logan Casey, policy researcher for the Movement Advancement Project, says if the high court does not confirm federal protections, LGBTQ workers will continue to be subject to a patchwork of state laws.

"And in Nebraska's case, Nebraska is a state where, under state law, it's perfectly legal for an LGBTQ person to be fired or not hired or otherwise discriminated against in the workplace because of who they are," Casey points out.

More than half of states still lack basic employment nondiscrimination protections.

Nebraska's state lawmakers have not yet voted on LB627, a measure designed to ensure that LGBTQ workers in the state are treated fairly.

The report classifies Nebraska as one of 12 "Negative Equality States," its lowest ranking. But Casey says there have been improvements over the past decade.

Progress can look different from one state to the next. Casey notes some states have passed sweeping laws that protect LGBTQ residents, while other states have blocked efforts to explicitly legalize discrimination.

Casey says apart from passing laws, there are other ways people change the way they think about their LGBTQ friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

"And so Nebraska is one of those places in particular where, in addition to the policy improvements that have happened over the last 10 years, a lot of the really great work is also happening on the ground in this person-to-person way," he explains.

According to the report, 45% of the nation's LGBTQ population lives in states with low or negative equality, which have minimal legal protections or laws on the books targeting LGBTQ people.

Casey says the past decade saw many advances, including the right to marry, the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and increased public support for equality.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE