As the remaining days of 2017 dwindle, our team at Out & Equal can’t help but reflect on what this year has meant for our LGBTQ family and those who support us.  2017 was an undeniably difficult year for our community, and while we cannot ignore the reality of such hardships, we must also—and more importantly—celebrate the progress we’ve made in our fight for LGBTQ workplace equality. In that spirit, let’s take a look at five great things that happened in the LGBTQ workplace equality movement in 2017:


5. December 1st, 2017, President Bill Clinton spoke at the Annual World AIDS Day Observance at the National AIDS Memorial.


President Clinton reminded us all of the famous words of Martin Luther King Jr., “The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  Though 2017 has certainly presented many setbacks for the LGBTQ community, that long arc of justice still bends towards equality.  President Clinton echoed those important words of Martin Luther King Jr. long ago and went on to say, “If we choose inclusion not division, cooperation not conflict … if we get the big things right, we can keep bending the arc.”


4. California Paves the Road for Transgender Equality in America

This year, California took major steps in improving the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming workers. California became the first state to legally recognize a third gender option by signing into law Senate Bill 179. Governor Jerry Brown also signed Senate Bill 396, the Transgender Work Opportunity Act, the nation’s first statewide policy requiring diversity training that addresses gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. In addition, California enacted Assembly Bill 1732 the Equal Restroom Access Act, requiring that businesses designate all “single-user” toilet facilities as “all-gender” toilet facilities. This is to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or expression, have equal access to a restroom in their place of work.


3. Political Leaders on Both Sides of the Aisle Stood Against the Transgender Military Ban


In the face of the proposed ban on transgender troops serving in the military, elected officials from both parties, including Senator John McCain (R-Ariz), expressed their support for non-discrimination in the military and for the brave trans soldiers who dedicate their lives to protecting our country—a huge step in the right direction for LGBTQ equality in the workplace. In a letter signed by over 50 retired generals and admirals, leaders expressed support for transgender soldiers, saying, “Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving—and who want to serve—must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.” Furthermore, multiple federal judges have blocked the proposed ban, concluding that the ban is unconstitutional. This public bi-partisan support of transgender troops is both unprecedented and certainly worthy of celebration.


2. Equality Wins on a Local Level: Non-Discrimination Policies Pass

Passing comprehensive LGBTQ protections on a federal level is considerably difficult in the current federal political landscape. However, progress has been made on a local level to protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination. By enacting local LGBTQ non-discrimination policies, many cities and municipalities across America are able ensure that LGBTQ individuals are protected from discrimination despite the fact that no federal protections exist.  Thank you Morgantown, West Virginia, De Pere, Wisconsin, and Birmingham, Alabama along with other local communities that stood up to LGBTQ discrimination this year!


1. 98 of 104 Out & Equal Partners participating in HRC’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index received a score of 100%.


98 of Out & Equal’s corporate sponsors took a major stand for the LGBTQ community and earned the title of “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality ” on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.  To earn 100% on the CEI, companies must include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies and meet other important standards that ensure a healthy and happy workplace for LGBTQ workers. Given that a record-breaking 609 major companies received this score across the country for 2018, millions of LGBTQ employees will be protected from workplace discrimination and be able to bring their full selves to work each and every day. Congratulations to all businesses who have achieved 100% and to those who continue to strive to lay the important groundwork for global LGBTQ workplace equality.

Though 2017 has presented all of us with challenges, we celebrate all of the good that has happened this year. Out & Equal will continue to bend the arc ever closer to justice in 2018. We look forward to standing alongside you in our fight to advance LGBTQ workplace equality and look forward to many more accomplishments together in the New Year. To our beloved LGBTQ family and the allies who support us, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all of the hard work you do for the LGBTQ community and your continued support in 2018.


The Out and Equal Team