Chicago Pride 2019 is done, wrapping up a month-long celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This year’s Pride drew in record numbers of an estimated 100,000 people from all over the world, coming together to celebrate being themselves. However, while crowds came out in droves to show their support of the LGBT community, it is still important to remember the various challenges LGBT individuals still face today, especially within the workplace.

As there is currently no nation-wide law prohibiting LGBT workplace discrimination, it falls to the states to protect these individuals. Nineteen states, including Illinois, have laws in place that provide total protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Three other states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only. Most states do not protect LGBT employees from discrimination, and in Arkansas and Tennessee there are even laws that actively prevent passage or enforcement of LGBT nondiscrimination laws. As 1/5 of LGBT-identifying employees nation-wide have reported some form of workplace harassment, having protections in place is vital for these workers to feel safe and secure in their positions.

Everyone deserves the right to feel accepted as they are, especially in the workplace. Here in Illinois, we are lucky that our state protects all orientations and gender identities from workplace discrimination, but we must also be conscious that others in our country are not as lucky. As more states begin to introduce bills calling for ‘religious freedom’ to disguise blatant homophobic and transphobic acts, it is important for LGBT individuals to know their rights, fight for them, and above all, remain proud.