Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Workers in Chicago: Enacted Stigmatization, Stigma Consciousness, and Outness
Gates, Trevor G.
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This Internet-based descriptive study examined the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people in the workplace. In particular, the study explored the extent to which LGB people living and/or working in metropolitan Chicago, Illinois experience sexual orientation-based harassment and discrimination in the workplace, the extent to which the experience of sexual orientation-based harassment differs by certain characteristics, the extent to which LGB people experience stigma consciousness, the extent to which the experience of stigma consciousness differs by certain characteristics, and the relationship between sexual orientation-based harassment and discrimination and stigma consciousness. A convenience sample (N = 215) of LGB workers, aged 18 to 64, living and/or working in metropolitan Chicago, Illinois was recruited using various social networking sites, Internet and print advertisements, and paper flyers at several Chicago-area agencies serving LGB people. Participants were given an anonymous survey examining workplace stigma-related experiences. Several existing measures were used, including Waldo's (1999) Workplace Heterosexist Experiences Questionnaire, Pinel's (1999) Stigma Consciousness Questionnaire for Gay Men and Lesbians, and Mohr and Fassinger's (2000) Outness Inventory, which highlighted some of the differences in LGB workplace experiences. Major findings of the study were that LGB workers’ stigma-related experiences differed by social identity, that outness may positively impact the workplace, and that formal legal protections do not necessarily prevent workplace stigma experiences. Findings of the study have relevance for social work education, social work practice, and social welfare policy. Work is an important part of our lives, yet many LGB workers are prevented from full participation in the workplace because of their stigma-related experiences. Social workers are likely to encounter LGB workers affected by stigma-related experiences, and have a responsibility to affect change, both with that individual client and with broader social welfare policy systems.