(Springfield, Mo.) The work environment is far more inclusive now than a decade ago. But many employees here in Missouri feel fearful of coming out of the closet.
Fox5 spoke to a LGBTQ advocate who is speaking out and fighting for change.
While progress has been made the LGBTQ community still worries that revealing their sexuality at work will have negative consequences.
"It’s not always safe to come out at your workplace because you might get married on Saturday, Monday go to change your benefits and be fired and that’s totally legal," explains Krista Moncado, Executive Director, The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of the Ozarks.
Moncado says nearly half of the LGBTQ community choose not to disclose their sexuality at work.
"They’re afraid of losing their job for simply for who they love and that’s not anything that anybody wants."
Although many companies invested in creating non discrimination policies, Moncado says 31 states still don't have fully inclusive non discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
"I think it’s important that as business owners that we say and we put into our policies that we say that we’re not going to discriminate."
A study done by the Human Rights Campaign reveals that over half of LGBTQ employees have remain closeted in their respective workplaces.
"Being gay isn’t a choice that we make. It’s not an easy road. We know that over 40% of transgender people attempt suicide in their lifetime. This is not a path that people arbitrarily choose."
Moncado says the work environment is far more inclusive now than a decade ago, but many workers feel fearful of the repercussions of coming out of the closet.
"When people are able to live there most authentic self then they are better workers, they’re more loyal, they are more productive."
LGBTQ advocates say education is key, as is the desire to embrace people for who they are, not who they love.
"We may not always agree, but we need to show each other respect and dignity as human beings."
Moncado is pushing for Missouri's Non Discrimination Act also known as MONA, which would make it illegal to fire and evict LGBTQ people based on their sexual orientation.