Studies over the last few years have investigated the discrimination that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community experience in the workplace. Different results show that from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, 16% to 68% of the LGBT society reported having faced employment discrimination at some point in their lives (Badgett et al. 2007). The wage differentials between LGBT and heterosexual persons shows that over the last decade gay men earn 10% to 32% less than heterosexual men, while for transgender people there is a high unemployment percentage while for lesbians, the data is limited and less consistent (Sears, Mallory 2011). Moreover, another problem faced by the LGBT community is physical and psychological abuse. Different studies have shown that a person who has been discriminated against can be negatively affected both mentally and physically. A homophobic social environment is one of the main reasons that people of the LGBT community face prejudice, stigma, and discrimination, both in and outside of the workplace. A national investigation in 2009 found that working in an inequity environment had caused that the majority of LGBT employees reported feeling disturbed and depressed, avoiding coworkers and work social events. As a result of this disapproval, some employees are forced to look for new jobs or start working at home, (Sears, Mallory 2011). This essay aims to analyze three possible solutions for the discrimination of the LGBT community in employment as well as physical and psychological abuse in Latin America. These solutions include the implementation of new laws and rights, family and academic education and the implementation of regulations in public spaces. Moreover, it will evaluate these solutions based on three criteria: cost, social and political implications.
The first solution to eliminating discrimination against LGBT community is the implementation of new laws that advocate for equal rights for these individuals (Pizer, Sears, Mallory and Hunter, 2011). These rules should force employers and the work zones to treat their LGBT employees with the same respect, rights, and equality as the other non-LGBT co-workers. In Latin America, these rights have spread unevenly with some countries such as Argentina having strong anti-discrimination laws and social movements defending LGBT rights, while other countries mostly in the Caribbean remain reluctant about legalizing these rights, (Corrales, 2015). Equal rights will mean same wages and other employment benefits for both the LGBT individuals and their non-LGBT counterparts. On the criterion of cost, equal rights and treatment for all will result in reduced cost of living for the LGBT persons and increased productivity. Discrimination is directly linked to poor performance which will affect businesses and the overall GDP of a country. When an employee is discriminated against, they often feel demotivated, and cases of absenteeism and stagnation in performance will be on the rise (Badgett, Durso, Mallory and Kastanis, 2013). Equality in the wage rate to the same level with their non-LGBT colleagues with the same performance characteristics will improve their financial stability allowing them to contribute more to the economy. On social implications, equal rights will be a key factor in fostering a socially and culturally integrated society. It will also give the LGBT individuals the sense of belonging, allowing them to come out public concerning their sexuality. A General Social Survey report indicates that many LGBT people conceal their identity for fear of discrimination (Barrientos, Catalan, and Longueira, 2010). A national probability survey conducted in 2009 shows that 28% of LGBT employees hide their identity fearing that it might hinder their career advancement, while 17% feared they might get fired. This group has also reported high probabilities of physical and mental health problems associated with the social stigma resulting from discrimination. Therefore, implementing equal rights will send a message to all America that LGBT members are not different from the rest and this will be a bold step to ending social prejudice and stigmatization.
Politically, LGBT rights in Latin America have faced resistance in most of the countries in the region despite the push from human rights movements. As of 2015, 11 countries out of the 40 political states in Latin America had not legalized same-sex relations. However, implementing these rights will raise the politics of Latin America a bar higher, as it will be a response act to the notion of globalization which encourages the expansion of these rights for the sake of inclusiveness (Ayoub, 2015). This move will also increase participation of the LGBT community in political activities such as voting.
The second solution to discrimination against LGBT community is implementing the regulation in public spaces. The most efficient control would be introducing surveillance in public places such as work zones, educational institutions, health centers as well as recreation grounds. Closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) can be installed in these areas to provide 24 hours 7 days surveillance of all the activities carried out. This measure will make it possible to capture acts of discrimination in the form of verbal abuse or physical assaults which can be used as evidence in filing lawsuits. Written policies as provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can be reinforced to ensure all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are protected under these policies. Regarding cost criterion, implementation of regulation in public places will be an addition to the budget on the one hand, but an eventual benefit on the contrary. Purchasing, installation, and maintenance of enough security cameras will require an extra allocation of funds from the government budget. However, the implication of this solution will be increased economic productivity. This is because the LGBT members will feel more secure in their workplaces and as a result, will be more productive. In terms of social implications, public place regulation strategy will lead to less cases of discrimination as the perpetrators of discrimination are aware that they are being watched as well as the implications of abuse or violence against the LGBT members. As such, the LGBT individuals can actively and freely participate in social events and visit social places without the fear of their safety (Encarnacion, 2011). Politically, the impacts of public regulation will in the long term result into a more integrated Latin America. Studies have shown that discriminated minorities such as the LGBT members have lower political participation as they feel neglected by the government. Some countries have not adopted the legal changes on LGBT rights and continue to discriminate the LGBT members. For instance, a 2014 report on bullying and sexual diversity in schools revealed that LGBT students continued to receive bullying and violence in schools despite the legal changes in Argentina. This is where public regulations, and especially surveillance, get implemented.
The third solution to eliminating discrimination on LGBT community is introducing education in academic institutions and to family members, with the aim of creating awareness about this group. This will require introducing a school curriculum that incorporates data and the history of the LGBT community, as well as holding seminars to educate people on sexual orientation and the need to embrace the LGBT group (Orpinas and Horne, 2009). There are many reported cases of bullying and violence in schools against the LGBT members by their non-LGBT student counterparts. These perpetrators have no adequate knowledge concerning sexual orientation or gender identity which results to treating their gay community as aliens. This brings in the need for extensive sexual education in all the countries across Latin America. The cost implication of an LGBT-inclusive curriculum will be an increase in the cost of education for both the government and the parents or guardians of these school goers. The government will have to allocate more resources to the research and publication of materials with information on LGBT. More teachers will have to be employed; especially those who have extensive knowledge and are not biased on sexual orientation, to effectively pass the knowledge and bring the students into an understanding of the LGBT community. Parents and guardians will also incur an extra cost of tuition fee to cater for the additional content. On the social implications, education and increased awareness will result in more acceptance of the group to the larger society. Reports have shown that most people express discomfort when around members of the LGBT community. Simple actions such as seeing a gay couple holding hands, moving next door or the truth of learning that a relative is LGBT makes non-LGBT individuals uncomfortable. With increased awareness to the members of the society about the LGBT group, the community will gain acceptance, and the future generations will not experience the strained relationships between the LGBT and non-LGBT groups. Politically, education as a government tool to improve knowledge will change the politics of Latin America and is likely to cause the countries that are resistant to legal change on LGBT rights to accept the move and legalize the rights of these people (Reynolds, 2013).
In conclusion, discrimination against lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender population can be eliminated with the increased push for their acceptance in the society. Implementation of equal rights, public regulation and education are sure ways of fostering this development into an anti-discriminatory society.
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