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IA Group: Transgender Community to Benefit from Supreme Court Ruling

Advocates say while society has become more accepting of gays and lesbians, there's still a lot of backlash toward those who identify as transgender. (Adobe Stock)
Advocates say while society has become more accepting of gays and lesbians, there's still a lot of backlash toward those who identify as transgender. (Adobe Stock)
June 16, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Advocates for equal rights on Monday were handed a major victory by the U.S. Supreme Court which said federal law protects LGBTQ individuals from workplace discrimination.

An Iowa group said it hopes the ruling will give an immediate boost to the transgender community. Courtney Reyes, executive director of One Iowa, said the state has its own laws to protect against workplace discrimination. But, she said, transgender individuals still face challenges.

"We know that most people feel pretty comfortable around gay and lesbian folks, but we come into a lot of pushback from individuals not accepting transgender individuals," Reyes said.

She said even though Iowa has been a national leader in adopting policies that support the LGBTQ community, there are still examples of workplace discrimination. In 2019, a former state official won a lawsuit arguing he had received a pay cut because he is gay.

Reyes said in states such as Iowa, where policies already exist to prevent an employer from outright discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation, the more subtle forms of discrimination still exist.

"It's those microaggressions that push people out, and so that's why we focus on how do we make that environment safe and secure and inclusive," she said.

She said that's why it's important to have corporate leaders set a tone that says any discrimination - regardless of the form it takes - will not be tolerated.

Legal experts say the court ruling is significant because unlike Iowa, nearly half the states have no legal protection for LGBTQ employees. They say the court ruling now makes it clear that federal law does protect them.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA