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Authors

Ryan Castle

Abstract

While race, religion, ethnicity, and sex will always remain salient social issues in our nation, sexual orientation is currently at the forefront of our national debate and will likely not abate in the foreseeable future. Federal courts, for example, struggle in differentiating sex, gender, and sexuality when adjudicating Title VII employment discrimination claims. Because Title VII does not protect employees from sexual orientation-based discrimination, plaintiffs who are or are perceived to be of a sexual minority have difficulty proving a valid sex-based discrimination claim in federal court. This difficulty arises because one cannot perceive sex, gender, and sexuality without muddling the stereotypes associated with each one. Social science can help separate gender and sex characteristics from sexual characteristics; these distinctions expose deeper social biases toward sex, gender, and sexuality. This Comment examines one of these characteristics: the male voice. Federal courts have addressed alleged discrimination partly based on a male employee’s gay or effeminate voice in six cases, with mixed results. This Comment argues that when male employees are discriminated against partly based on their voice being perceived as gay—what I term the gay accent—this discrimination should be seen as sex discrimination through a mixed-motive analysis.