Executive Order Under Consideration Would Allow Discrimination Against LGBT

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Tuesday 14th February 2017
Summary: Order could impact hundreds of thousands of LGBT people, including LGBT youth in foster care and same-sex couples seeking to foster or adopt.


President Trump is considering issuing an executive order that provides sweeping protections for employers and service providers that discriminate against LGBT people.

The draft of the executive order circulated on February 1, 2017 would prohibit the federal government from withholding grants, contracts, or federal benefits from entities that discriminate against LGBT employees or beneficiaries based on religious objection--a belief that being LGBT is immoral or inconsistent with religious doctrine.

Such an executive order could potentially impact thousands of same-sex couples seeking to adopt or foster children, tens of thousands of LGBT youth in foster care, and hundreds of thousands of LGBT workers employed by federal contractors and the federal government.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law is providing this fact sheet to assist with reporting on these issues. Williams Institute scholars are available to provide comment and analysis.

Same-Sex Couples Seeking to Adopt or Foster Children

The draft executive order would allow federally-funded religious organizations providing child welfare services to decline adoption and foster services to same-sex couples. Williams Institute research shows that many same-sex couples adopt and foster children, and are more likely to do so than different-sex couples:

The draft executive order could limit opportunities for family formation among same-sex couples, and leave many children without a foster placement or permanent home.

LGBT Youth in Foster Care

The draft executive order would allow religious organizations providing child welfare services to decline to serve LGBT youth. Williams Institute research finds that LGBT youth are greatly overrepresented in the foster system; for example, in Los Angeles, LGBT youth make up 20 percent of the youth population in care, compared to only 8 percent of the general youth population. Of the 400,000 children currently in foster care, an estimated 80,000 are LGBT.

LGBT Employees of Federal Contractors

Over 20 percent of the U.S. workforce -- 28 million people -- are employed by federal contractors. Under an executive order issued by former President Obama in 2014, federal contractors are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. President Trump's draft order would limit the scope of the 2014 order, allowing contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees based on their religious beliefs without losing their contracts.

The Williams Institute estimated that as a result of the 2014 executive order, 11 million workers, including 400,000 LGBT employees, gained protections from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. These 11 million employees did not have protections from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under a corporate policy or state law before the 2014 order was issued.

The draft order would potentially strip an important source of legal protections from many LGBT workers of federal contractors, including workers who are not otherwise protected from discrimination under state non-discrimination laws or corporate policies.

LGBT Federal Employees

The draft order would open the door for harassment and discrimination against LGBT people who work for the federal government.

An estimated 64,000 LGBT people are federal civil service employees.

Services Provided to Same-Sex Couples

The draft order would open the door for denial of services and discrimination against same-sex married couples.

There are over 500,000 married same-sex couples in the U.S.

Access to Health Care

The draft order would limit federal regulations that protect LGBT people from discrimination in health care, including by hospitals, insurers, and other providers.

There are over 10 million LGBT adults in the United States. In particular, the over 1.4 million transgender adults in the U.S. would be vulnerable to discrimination in health care and denial of services under the draft order.


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