This week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ employees who have confronted workplace discrimination in a landmark decision that not only has powerful civil rights implications, but also powerful implications for children’s well-being.
In a 6-3 ruling, the Court said the prohibition on discrimination “because of sex” found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This reasoning settles the matter of employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers and will also likely apply to a wide range of federal and state anti-discrimination laws, such as those covering housing, education, and health care, so it’s a really big deal.
It’s a really big deal for children because workplace discrimination, poverty, and harm to children are all tied together. As discussed in a friend-of-the-court brief the Children’s Defense Fund joined last year, children are hurt when their parents don’t get hired, don’t get promoted, or lose their jobs because they are the targets of discrimination. The ensuing loss of income is keenly felt not just by the individual worker, but also by the children they support. Unemployment and unstable employment are key drivers of child poverty, and child poverty hurts children’s health, development, and ability to learn.
One important caveat: the opinion leaves open the possibility that Title VII itself, along with the First Amendment, may afford religious employers more latitude in their hiring decisions. On this point we’ll be keeping a watchful eye. There are many sectors where an LGBTQ employee’s perspective is essential to the populations they serve—including workplaces like schools, hospitals, and child welfare settings. Children are enriched by having access to mentors with diverse experiences, worldviews, and perspectives.
To read the friend-of-the-court brief representing civil rights, anti-poverty, and child and family welfare organizations dedicated to ending poverty, click here.