LGBT Employment Nondiscrimination: Debating Sexuality and Citizenship

Kelsy Burke, Emily Kazyak, Alice MillerMacPhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Nebraska is 1 of 26 states that did not protect LGBT people from employment discrimination prior to Bostock vs. Clayton County. This article examines debates in Nebraska about LGBT employment nondiscrimination as a window into how citizenship is defined in relation to sexuality and gender identity. Methods: We performed qualitative analyses on (1) the 2018 Nebraska Annual Social Indicators Survey of 902 respondents who shared their opinions on employment nondiscrimination legislation for LGBT individuals in close- and open-ended questions and (2) transcripts of the 2017 Nebraska state legislature debate of a bill that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected from employment discrimination. Results: We find overlap in the primary frames employed by advocates and opponents. Both frame sexuality and gender as irrelevant to employment, and both rely on fairness and equality as rationales. Both sides also use a morality frame; however, those opposing argue that passage may result in discrimination based on religion. Conclusions: While civil rights are often assumed to be conferred on all people designated as citizens in a society, this paper reveals that LGBT people’s inclusion in the state remains contested. Both sides articulate that the state is not neutral but is expected to be an enforcer of values through policies implicating gender and sexuality. Policy Implications: Because LGBT nondiscrimination policies tap into broader debates over freedom, morality, and citizenship, these will likely continue to be contested in the years following the Supreme Court’s ruling that protects against employment discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-482
Number of pages13
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Discrimination
  • Employment
  • Framing
  • LGBT
  • Nebraska
  • Public opinion
  • Religious right

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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