NC Opposes Gender Identity Discrimination

Source: Equality North Carolina

Raleigh, NC (2001 Dec 4) – Equality NC Project yesterday announced the results of a statewide poll that demonstrates substantial public support for legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both public and private employment.

While many North Carolina companies and institutions have voluntarily implemented inclusive non-discrimination policies, there are currently no laws against such discrimination at the state or federal level. The cities of Raleigh, High Point, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham have non-discrimination policies on sexual orientation for municipal employees.

The poll of 2000 North Carolinians, conducted October 14-17 by The Lucas Organization (formerly Rasmussen Research), found that 61% of North Carolinians believe it should not be legal to refuse public employment to someone on the basis of sexual orientation; only 26% believe it should be legal. 56% said such discrimination should not be legal in private employment as well, with 31% believing it should be legal.

  Should Discrimination Be Legal on
Sexual Orientation in Gender Identity in
Yes 26.3% 30.8% 16.4% 24.0%
No 60.7% 56.2% 68.0% 61.0%
Not Sure 13.1% 13.1% 15.6% 15.0%
  Poll Conducted by The Lucas Organization on Oct 14-17, 2001.
  2000 Respondents statewide. Margin of error ±4%

Table 1. NC Legal Employment Discrimination Poll Results

A recent poll for the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 76% of people nationally support legislation banning such discrimination.

The Equality NC poll also showed a high level of support for legislation banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 68% of respondents felt such discrimination should be illegal in public employment, and 61% in private. Gender identity refers to exhibiting characteristics usually associated with the opposite gender; for example, either a man who exhibits certain feminine traits or a woman who exhibits more masculine traits.

“We are very encouraged to see that a clear majority of North Carolinians are opposed to discriminatory hiring practices,” said Jo Wyrick, Equality NC Project’s Executive Director. “I believe this demonstrates a fundamental belief that decisions to hire and fire employees should be based on merit, experience, and job performance, not personal characteristics like sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“Although some in our community believe that including gender identity is legislative suicide, our poll suggests that North Carolinians are very open to protecting citizens from discrimination based on gender expression. Including gender identity is not only the right thing to do; we believe that, with on-going public education, including gender identity may in fact broaden our base of support.”

The poll was funded by an Equality Grant from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and additional support from Mitchell Gold Furniture.

“These poll results are great and welcome news. We fully support the efforts of Equality NC to pursue a broad legislative strategy,” said Seth Kilbourn, National Field Director of the Human Rights Campaign. “We believe that more information is needed on these issues nationwide, which is why we are committed to putting a research project into the field, perhaps as early as next summer.”

Although support for legislation barring discrimination varied from region to region within the state, all regions showed majority support, from 53% of people on the coast opposing discrimination on sexual orientation in private employment to 60% in the Triangle area.

“We often hear the assertion that support for such legislation is only found in more liberal, urban areas,” said Wyrick. “Yet the data indicate that a clear majority of men and women from the Blue Ridge to the Atlantic are opposed to discrimination.”

Wyrick said that legislators should listen to the wishes of the people statewide and pass legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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