Transitioning to Adulthood
Although many youth experience a smooth transition into adulthood and the workforce, some encounter challenges in finding or maintaining employment. Because LGBT youth may experience less supportive school environments than their non-LGBT peers, they may struggle in school and, in turn, have higher school dropout rates or have lower aspirations for postsecondary education than other populations of youth1 These potentially negative school experiences can affect the postsecondary outcomes of LGBT youth as they transition into employment or postsecondary education. Also, LGBT youth may have difficulty finding, and need support identifying, jobs and higher education opportunities that are affirming and safe.
Colleges and Universities
In looking for postsecondary educational opportunities, LGBT youth may want to consider a college’s or university’s climate relative to the experiences of LGBT students. The LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index is a resource for youth to find higher-education learning environments that are welcoming to LGBT youth. The index assesses eight factors including LGBT policy inclusion, LGBT student life, LGBT campus safety, and LGBT counseling and health. As of June 2014, the index has data for 424 campuses. Also, the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals maintains a directory of colleges and universities that have an office dedicated to LGBT topics.
LGBT employees experience harassment and discrimination at greater levels than their non-LGBT colleagues.2 One survey found that 44 percent of LGBT adults experienced some form of discrimination on the job because of their sexual orientation.3 No federal law provides workplace protections for LGBT Americans. However, as of June 2014, 18 states and the District of Columbia ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, and three additional states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation only.4
Employers can benefit from policies and programs (including state laws) that support LGBT employees. Protections for LGBT employees have been found to attract other diverse applicants and fair-minded job seekers. For example, a recent survey showed that 71 percent of LGBT adults would prefer a job with an employer in a state where same-sex marriage equality is recognized, and 42 percent would consider changing jobs if their employer moved their workplace from a state that recognizes same-sex marriage to a state that does not.5 When seeking employment, LGBT youth may likewise consider the policies and practices of an organization, an agency, or a company before pursuing employment there. The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index provides information on LGBT equality at U.S. businesses, which can provide useful guidance as LGBT youth transition into the workforce.6
Civil Rights at USDA: A Backgrounder on Efforts by the Obama Administration (PDF, 9 pages)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a training component that addresses sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. This statement describes the work that USDA is doing to improve civil rights.
The Economic Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care
This resource discusses the well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth aging out of foster care and compares data with their heterosexual peers. Data come from a longitudinal study, the Midwest Study of Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth. This brief was written as part of the Youth Demonstration Development project, supported by the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
LGBT at USDA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Special Emphasis Program (PowerPoint, 31 slides)
This PowerPoint presentation focuses on the USDA’s LGBT Special Emphasis Program. It highlights information for a safe, inclusive workplace environment.
1 Kosciw et al., 2012; Kim, 2009
2 Movement Advancement Project, 2013; Badgett, Lau, Sears, & Ho, 2007
3 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, 2009
4 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2014
5 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, 2009
6 Human Rights Campaign, 2012b
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