A new video from Human Rights Campaign (HRC) tells the story of Chad and Bret, a gay couple who've encountered a series of employment-related hardships since the birth of their daughter last year.
Bret, who is trans, gave birth to Eleanor nine months ago. In the video, the couple reveals that neither of them had access to paid family leave, but that Bret took two weeks of unpaid time off after Eleanor was born before returning to work part time.
Chad took some unpaid time off too, but soon afterwards he had some medical issues that required him to take additional time off. Because he'd already taken time off to care for the baby, he was fired from his job for attendance reasons.
"Absolutely we could not afford to live on a single income," Chad says in the video. "I found a new job, but we still haven't caught up financially. Even with both of our incomes, we're really, really tight."
Unfortunately, Chad and Bret are far from alone in their struggle to make ends meet as new parents. The U.S. is the only developed nation in the world without some form of guaranteed paid parental leave, and LGBT parents are especially vulnerable. According to HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Paid Leave Survey, less than half of LGBT people's employers offer inclusive parental leave policies.
The same survey found that even when parental or family leave is available, one in five LGBT people report that they're afraid to take advantage of it for fear of being outed at work. That makes sense, considering that in 28 states, you can still be legally fired over your gender identity or sexual orientation.
"Not being paid for our time off when we had our baby was quite a hardship," Chad says in the video. "Paid family leave would have made a big difference for our family and the support that Elea got when she was born."