Study: Nearly half of LGBTQ employees fear being 'out' at work

Glassdoor survey combines results of more than 6,100 US workers

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Views and public support for LGBTQ issues like same-sex marriage have been changing, but a new survey finds many in the LGBTQ community don't feel comfortable being "out" at work.

Online employment website Glassdoor surveyed thousands of U.S. workers and found nearly half of those who identified as LGBTQ believe being "out" in the workplace could hurt their career.

News4Jax spoke with Kaitlin Legg, the director for the LGBT resource center at the University of North Florida, who said she was surprised by the survey's results.

The survey's authors mentioned that 26 states, including Florida, do not guarantee protections for LGBT people in the workplace.

Legg has been working at UNF for six years now and said she feels safe being who she is at work. But, like many, she said she has had jobs in other fields and understands why some have reservations about being "out" in the workplace.

"As an LGBT person, my identity is something that I consider in terms of, like, am I being considered for promotions in the same way that other people are," Legg explained. "Or, like, will people believe and respect in the work that I do?"

Researchers from the Glassdoor career website surveyed more than 6,100 workers in the United States and found that 57 percent of those who identified as LGBTQ said they are fully "out" at work, while 43 percent still are not. 

Legg found it more concerning that some of the numbers show 53 percent of LGBT employees have either witnessed or been on the receiving end of harassing comments by co-workers. For comparison, 30 percent of non-LGBT workers have seen or experienced that harassment.

The study also found that half of all employee believe the places where they work can and should offer more support for LGBT workers. 

Legg said leaders in the workplace should maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all employees. Furthermore, she said workers should also be part of the conversation and make sure protections are in place for all people.

"Updating policy and having that in place creates an opportunity to provide education and have a conversation and create awareness," Legg said.

She added that showing support as much as possible makes a difference, and one way to do that is participating in Pride Month, which is happening throughout June.

Legg said while things are changing for the better, things can still improve.

People can view the full report from Glassdoor online.

Another recent and more comprehensive study involving LGBTQ issues pertaining to the Jacksonville area can also be viewed online.

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