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One-third of U.S. Workers Still Have A Problem With Their Gay Co-workers

The new 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Survey highlights progress on the work front for GLBT employees.

This year's survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive and included almost 2,800 U.S. adults, 386 of whom identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transexual. So the whopping majority of survey participants identified themselves as heterosexual, at least on paper.

78% of heterosexual adults in the survey said that job performance should be the standard for job reviews and not their sexual orientation. About 62% of heterosexual adults agreed that all employees are entitled to equal benefits on the job, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Sounds great, but the results look a bit different when you consider them from another angle:
* Slightly more than one-fifth (22%) of those surveyed thought someone's sexual orientation should factor into how the boss assesses their job performance;

* More than one-third (38%) thought gay and lesbian employees shouldn't receive the same benefits as they do;

* Slightly more than one-fourth (26%) thought gay and lesbian employees shouldn't be able to take leave when a family member dies;

* Almost one-third (30%) thought gay employees shouldn't be able to use the Family and Medical Leave Act for family emergencies;

* More than one-third (37%) thought gay spouses and partners shouldn't be able to receive untaxed health insurance benefits;

* 39% were uncomfortable with the prospect of having an openly-GLBT boss, while 34% were uncomfortable with the prospect of having an openly-GLBT co-worker.

Flipping the numbers puts a different spin on things, doesn't it?

What it means, ultimately, is that the American workplace still has a way to go in changing attitudes toward GLBT employees and supervisors. In fact, if these numbers bear out, the typical American workplace has a one-in-three chance of having at least one employee who complains (quietly) how their GLBT co-worker got to take the day off to attend a family funeral and thinks the boss should be factoring the employee's "gay-ness" into job performance reviews.

And no matter how progressive you think your workplace is, these attitudes are there, bubbling underneath the surface. How employers choose to address them remains to be seen.

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