June marks Pride Month, serving not just as a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, but also a call to action. Recent legislation attacking transgender rights threatens equity in every setting and contributes to a mental health crisis for LGBTQ+ people. At this critical moment, private-sector leaders can send their own powerful signal to society – one of support, inclusion, and well-being for LGBTQ+ people.
Many companies have already taken important steps to do so. The 2022 Corporate Equality Index found that 97% of businesses in the study have protections for nonbinary and transgender workers, up from just 5% in 2002. And there are now 22 times as many employers who offer transgender-inclusive health insurance compared to 2009.
That’s incredible progress – but there’s still more to be done, especially in light of a wave of anti-trans legislation. In 2023, state legislatures introduced more than 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Recent bans to gender-affirming care, access to public accommodations such as bathrooms and locker rooms, and restrictions on gender education and athletic participation all increase the stress and violence that members of the LGBTQ+ community face.
These actions are triggering a mental health crisis for LGBTQ+ children, teens, and young adults. Nearly 1-in-3 LGBTQ+ young people reported poor mental health most of the time or always due to these ant-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation. Worse, more than 41% said they seriously considered suicide in the past year, including half of transgender and nonbinary young people. For people with multiple marginalized identities, the impacts are even worse. 1-in-4 Black transgender and nonbinary young people reported a suicide attempt in the past year.
While private-sector leaders can’t reverse these policies, they can demonstrate meaningful support for LGBTQ+ people. By taking steps to protect trans and LGBTQ+ employees, organizations can both provide direct aid and shape the broader societal dialogue. Employers have an ability to amplify the experiences of this marginalized group and influence well-being with sustained and supportive initiatives.
The private-sector can amplify its impact by collaborating with leaders like The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. The Trevor Project is a partner of One Mind at Work, and leads research, education, and advocacy to improve LGBTQ+ mental health, including curated resources for mental health support and a Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Young People.
Other employer tactics for support include:
· Adopt trans-inclusive policies. Simple steps can make an important impact. These policies include instituting gender-neutral bathrooms, gender-neutral dress codes, and usage of correct names and pronouns.
· Provide opportunities for education and awareness. Education on gender identity, labels, transitioning, disclosure, pronouns and sexuality can help to cultivate a workplace culture of respect and understanding.
· Develop trans-specific diversity training. This should include contact with those who identify along the trans identity spectrum and should help cisgender employees develop skills to challenge prejudice.
· Bolster mental health offerings. Communicate the company’s mental health resources to all employees and provide accessible, educational FAQs to ensure accessibility. Companies can offer Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for LGBTQ+ people to connect, share their experiences, and find peer support.
As we celebrate Pride Month around the U.S. and the world, workplaces can take this opportunity to enhance their mental health support and inclusion practices and champion support for trans, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ people.
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