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REGISTERED NURSES’ ATTITUDES TOWARD THE PROTECTION OF GAYS AND - page 17 / 161

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discrimination and the treatment of gays and lesbians as second- class citizens in American society is evident.

Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians in the Workplace

An aspect of this study was exploration of registered nurses’ homophobic and discriminatory beliefs in conjunction with examining attitudes towards the protection of gays and lesbians in the workplace through a nondiscrimination policy. Research suggests that discrimination against homosexuals is pervasive in America’s workplaces; homosexuals experience discrimination in wages and earning, perpetual harassment and homophobic treatment, and lack many essential rights related to employment (Croteau, 1996; Klawitter and Flatt, 1998; Anastas, 2001; Morrow, 2001; Irwin, 2002). Identical to the overall discrimination of gays and lesbians in American society, the discrimination gays and lesbians experience in the workplace is both indirect and direct. Indirect forms include the additional disparity of lesbian couples secondary to overall lower pay for women (Quittner, 2003; Melymuka, 2001; Yared, 1997; Van Soest, 1996; Frum, 1992; Cohn, 1992). Examples of direct discrimination are often central features of qualitative studies of participants’ experiences with discrimination at work (Croteau, 1996).

Croteau (1996) identified both formal (direct) and informal (indirect) discrimination. Formal discrimination are those institutionalized procedures that restrict officially conferred work rewards and informal discrimination is the loss of

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