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Gay pride in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released the 2018 U.S. LGBTQ Paid Leave Survey, a nationwide study that demonstrates exactly how urgently the United States needs inclusive employer-paid family and medical leave.

Over 5,400 LGBTQ+ people participated in the largest and most comprehensive study ever of its kind and gave testament to unfortunate results. Only 45 percent of respondents reported that their employers offer leave policies—paid or unpaid—that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ families and identities.

Only 49 percent reported that their employer policies are equally inclusive of the many ways families welcome a child, including adoption and foster care. One in five respondents reported that they would be afraid to request time off to care for a loved one because it might disclose their LGBTQ identity. While it’s a surprising realization for some, it’s an unfortunate reality for others. According to the Out and Equal‘s 2017 Workplace Equality Fact Sheet, in 28 states people can still be fired for being lesbian, bisexual, or gay. In 30 states, people can be fired for being trans.

“No one should have to choose between who they are, they people they love, and the job they need,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s senior vice president for programs, research, and training in a statement. “As the only developed nation in the world without some form of guaranteed paid leave policy, American workers, including LGBTQ+ employees, are too often forced to either forgo their income or leave their job entirely to treat an illness, care for a loved one, or grow their family.”

HRC’s report also includes personal stories from LGBTQ+ workers who need family or medical leave. One of the stories features a woman living in the Midwest whose wife was pregnant and had to use her PTO to take care of her newborn son. Another included a trans woman named Olive who risked getting fired to have a transition-related surgery.

The report also provides recommendations to support inclusive paid leave legislation and policies at federal, state, and local levels, and strategies for advocating for inclusive paid leave policies in the workplace.