Statement of Whitman-Walker on the Supreme Court’s Decisions in the LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Cases

Whitman-Walker is pleased by the Supreme Court’s decisions today in the cases of employment discrimination against a transgender woman[1] and against two gay men.[2] The Court correctly understood what advocates and multiple courts have stated for years – that one cannot understand discrimination against LGBTQ persons without taking into account a person’s sex.

This is a crucial finding to ensure that LGBTQ individuals are protected from discrimination, and have the same opportunities for health, employment, housing and socioeconomic advancement as anyone else. As the fight for racial and economic justice wages on, and the nation’s data around those hardest hit by COVID-19 suggests, the ability to live free from fear and not be denied opportunities because of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability are rights that are not currently guaranteed to all. While today is a victory, we know we have more work to do to ensure that no person experiences discrimination in any area of life.

“Discrimination against LGBTQ people is a persistent, systemic problem throughout this country,” said Naseema Shafi, Chief Executive Officer at Whitman-Walker Health. “Our patients and legal clients tell of many instances of discriminatory attitudes, mistreatment and harassment and outright refusals of care in health care and other settings. Discrimination in employment – which is directly at issue in these cases – is harmful to LGBTQ people’s mental and physical health, as well as to their economic well-being. Our right to live and work free from discrimination is fundamental to the dignity and health of LGBTQ people nationwide and today’s ruling is validation of this right.”

Whitman-Walker remains committed not only to providing welcoming, affirming, high-quality health care to everyone, but also to working toward a truly inclusive society that provides the opportunity for everyone to thrive regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, immigration status, or other protected status. The nation is grappling with a health care crisis of an almost unimaginable scale and throughout the country communities are rising up with renewed urgency against systemic racism and the violence perpetrated against Black people.

While today’s decision is an important moment for legal equality, leaders at all levels of government must act in a comprehensive way to protect LGBTQ people and Black and Brown communities from discrimination. “No one should fear seeking health care, housing, or other services for fear of discrimination and Congress must act quickly to ensure full legal equality for LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act,” said Laura E. Durso, Executive Director of the Whitman-Walker Institute. “Our laws and policies must also be restructured to undo the harms of white supremacy and ensure justice for all.”

Too many of the people who Whitman-Walker is pledged to serve are suffering and feeling hopeless about the future. Whitman-Walker’s health care providers, lawyers, policy advocates, educators and researchers will continue to fight for equality and equity in service to the communities we serve.

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[1] R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

[2] Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda.