Nebraska bills look to protect LGBTQ individuals in the workplace, ban conversion therapy

Posted at 6:42 PM, Mar 01, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Trans individuals only make up a small portion of the population, around 1.6% of all adults, according to the Pew Research Foundation.

Despite their small size, this group has garnered significant attention from lawmakers across the country, including in Nebraska.

“This is something that has come a little later to Nebraska than other states. We have seen a lot of states surrounding us that targets LGBTQ, especially trans individuals, and we are just now seeing them come to Nebraska,” said Abbi Swatsworth with OUT Nebraska.

So far, most of the bills being discussed are opposed to transgender individuals with bills like LB574, which would ban gender-affirming care for minors; or LB575, which regulates bathrooms based on an individual's biological gender.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t support for the trans community in the legislature.

On Wednesday, a pair of bills made their way in front of committees that would protect trans individuals and their right to express themselves as their preferred gender.

The first, LB169 makes a simple change; it would ban any discrimination at work based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I wanted to promote someone that worked for me to come to Omaha for a promotion, an existing U.P. employee. He said 'No, I don't feel welcome in Nebraska. My husband could get fired for no reason in Nebraska. I don't want that promotion.' That person worked for U.P., knew about U.P. and still said no. If that person has that perception, think about when I'm trying to recruit on the east coast, or west coast to come to Nebraska,” said Scott Moore, chief administrative officer for Union Pacific.

Business leaders, from the statewide chamber to huge businesses like Union Pacific, supported LB 169, arguing it's necessary to reverse Nebraska’s growing problems with brain drain.

The other bill looks to ban a practice that has already been banned in many states.

“LGBTQ folks are not genetically predisposed to suicide. These harrowing statistics are a result of environmental factors including societal stigma and shaming, such as that perpetuated by conversion therapy," said Senator John Frederickson, the introducer of LB 179.

Right now, conversion therapy is only banned in Lincoln and nowhere else in Nebraska. LB 179 would ban the practice by medical professionals statewide.

With an overwhelmingly conservative body, it's hard to guess what the fate of these bills will be, but some of the Senators behind these and other bills protecting LGBTQ individuals have promised to keep up their fight — even if they have to take the rest of the legislature down with them.

“This is a fight for your existence, your future, your state, your families. And I'm not gonna give an inch,” said Senator Machaela Cavanaugh.

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