The words, “you’re fired” have a chilling effect on most. Whether you’re laid off due to corporate reasons or because of a personal error, one can’t help but feel a sense of insecurity: why was it me? Being fired eats at the core of who you are; it invalidates your adequacy. But in the case of three members of the LGBTQ+ community, being fired didn’t just invalidate their suitability in the workforce, it threatened their civic liberties.
For Gerald Bostock, Don Zarda and Aimee Stephens, being fired meant that their rights were violated and their bosses could potentially not be held accountable. On October 8, 2019, Bostock, Zarda and Stephens took their cases to the Supreme Court to argue that their terminated employment status was not only due in part to their sexual orientation or gender identity but also violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which forbids employment discrimination on the basis of sex.
Politico provided a simple logic arguing for the plaintiffs and their case:
“If a male employee is fired because he has sexual relationships with men, but female employees in the same workplace can have sexual relationships with men without getting fired, then the male employee was fired because of his sex…he would not have been fired had his sex been different. The same is true of a woman assigned female at birth who is fired because she lives as a man.”
Given this logic and the still pending status of the cases it’s honestly quite frightening to leave the fate of approximately 11 million LGBTQ+ Americans–88 percent of which are employed–in the hands of the government.
So, if only 4.5 percent of Americans identify as LGBTQ+, why should we, as Beverly students, be worried? The fact that the rights of LGBTQ+ are even up for contention sets the premise of an unstable future. It means students who identify as LGBTQ+ at our own school will be affected by the decision of this court case in their endeavors into the professional and working force.
Your friends and peers, the people you grow up with, could potentially make up that statistic and could undeservingly lose the privilege of job security, all because of who they love.
Sure, things are not as bad as they used to be. Marriage is legal, therefore LGBTQ+ people have equal rights, right? Well, the matter of fact is, marriage in this regard shouldn’t be the only encompassing factor of what we consider “equal.” If LGBTQ+ persons truly enjoyed the same rights as heterosexual and/or cisgender people, this topic would be a moot point. People would not be at risk for being ridiculed, judged or even fired from their place of work if “straight” and LGBTQ+ people were equal in the eyes of society.
As students who are preparing to enter the workforce, the potential of losing a job because of our identity, no matter what it is, seems absurd. This case has given people an opportunity to wake up, and for people like us who live in California, it has given us the chance to hop out of our liberal bubble and realize that this is an issue that needs to be tackled.
There’s an “until it happens to you” mentality that is present, not necessarily in our school, but latently in the world around us. As we embark into the world in a few short years, we’ll see it more. But as a school community, we need to recognize now that although this court decision may not affect the majority of heterosexual, cisgender people at this school, it will affect the rest of the school population, and that should be valid enough.
The day that we stop caring about our countries’ minorities is the day that our democracy makes a turn for the worse. While we don’t have a say over Supreme Court decisions, some of us do have the power to cast our vote in the 2020 elections. So, do your research and vote for the candidate that will protect our democracy.