Legal Protections for Pansexual Individuals in the US: A Crucial Step Towards Equality

People are often taken aback to learn that bisexual individuals make up the largest and fastest-growing group within the LGBTQ+ community. According to the UCLA Williams Institute and the HRC Foundation, around half of those who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual identify as bisexual. Data collected by the University of Chicago's General Social Survey indicates that the number of openly bisexual Americans has tripled in the past decade. The Supreme Court is currently deliberating three cases that could decide whether LGBTQ+ people will continue to be safeguarded from discrimination under federal civil rights laws.

As we wait for the judges' momentous and historic decision, which will determine how LGBTQ+ people live our lives in our own country, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to pass essential legislation that will ultimately protect bisexual people and those who identify as pansexual, sexually fluid or queer from discrimination. The Equality Act is a proposed federal law that would provide explicit protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit and jury service. This legislation would have a far-reaching and positive effect on the bisexual community. At present, 50% of LGBTQ Americans live in the 29 states that still lack explicit state protections against discrimination, putting them at risk of being fired, denied housing, or denied service because of who they are or who they love.

This implies that, without the Equality Act, it's possible for a man who lives with his wife to be evicted from his apartment if his landlord discovers that he once dated a man. A bisexual woman could be dismissed from her job simply because of her sexual orientation. A pansexual person could be refused access to an educational or job training program focused on the LGBTQ community because they are not considered “gay enough” or “too gay”. Robyn Ochs is a long-time LGBTQ rights advocate and editor of Bi Women Quarterly.

She believes that enshrining the protections of the Equality Act is something deeply personal for her and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Ochs has identified as bisexual for 43 years and has devoted her career to advocating for marginalized communities. She knows that her visibility as an openly bisexual woman is important when we talk about this legislation because our community faces unique challenges that can be overlooked or disregarded all too easily. No one should be denied a job or fired simply because of who they are or who they love.

The Supreme Court has an opportunity to uphold this area of law to ensure the protection of LGBTQ+ people in many significant areas of life. Nevertheless, regardless of this outcome, passing the Equality Act is a fundamental step in guaranteeing that bisexual, pansexual, sexually fluid and queer people, along with the entire LGBTQ+ community, realize the promise of equal opportunities for all.