Scholar: ‘Kinky people’ should be a protected class

The researcher compared the belief that kinky people will sexually assault children to the belief that gay people will abuse children.

He said that while, "if you show up to your job in a latex catsuit, you can be fired for that," employers should not be able to terminate employment based on similar pictures that appear online.

A UC Santa Cruz researcher argued that a protected class should be established for "kinky people".

A University of California-Santa Cruz researcher says “kinky people” should be recognized as a protected class.

UCSC researcher Sam Hughes argues during an interview with City on a Phil Media that those who engage in taboo sexual activity are often discriminated against in ways he says are comparable to those experienced by members of the LGBT community. He contends that one solution to this would be to treat these individuals as part of a “protected class.” Groups with protected class status are legally protected from employment or housing discrimination.

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Groups with protected class status “include men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps,” according to the Equal Employment Opportunity program.

Hughes references a valence study he conducted, which he claims reveals that members of the kink community were “terrified about losing their jobs over their boss finding out if they were kinky.”

The UC Santa Cruz researcher argues that a viable solution to this would be to implement legal protections for “kinky people,” claiming that it would be “beneficial” to “think about it as a sexual minority group that’s a protected class.”

He clarifies that such a status would not permit individuals to engage in sexual deviance in the workplace, but, rather, would ensure that individuals would not be punished for their sexual tendencies and preferences.

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“I want to be clear, if you show up to your job in a latex catsuit, you can be fired for that,” Hughes says. “Not because you’re kinky, but because it’s not the uniform of the job, because it’s disruptive, that sort of thing. But your boss should not be able to go search online, find photos of you somewhere wearing a latex catsuit and then fire you because they think you’re a pervert.”

Interviewer Phil Leonard then asks “what if they find a photo of you dressed as a Nazi but it’s in a kink scene?”

“I think that’s a complicated issue,” Hughes answers. “I think that’s probably going to require some sort of conversation at the legal level. That might be firing them for a political affiliation rather than for [kink].”

“Okay, what about like the slave play?” Leonard asks. “Like someone finds a picture like at a party where they’re dressed up as like a slavemaster. Could they argue that ‘this is my sexual fetish?’”

Hughes then concedes that such a situation would “depend upon the job,” adding that “if your job is like working towards ending sex slavery, there might be a good job-related reason why that might interfere.”

When asked if he understands why somebody might be concerned about such an individual working around their children, Hughes responds by stating that such thinking is “based on a similar assumption to what we saw with homophobic assumptions in the 1950s,” adding that “assuming that because someone is kinky that they’re going to sexually assault children” is similar to not allowing “gay people [to] work with children because they might sexually assault them.”

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Leonard then presents Hughes with the idea that people may still be uncomfortable with the situation even if they didn’t believe it would end in child molestation.  

“Are they gonna dress up as a slave master in front of the children?” Hughes asks.  

“ you understand what the concern might be?” Leonard replies.

The researcher responds by reiterating his comparison to 1950s homophobia, adding that “if the assumption is that they’re going to have gay sex in front of my child and therefore they shouldn’t work with a kid, that’s the same kind of assumption that’s at the root of ‘they are kinky, and therefore they’re a pervert and shouldn’t be around my kid.’”

Campus Reform reached out to Hughes for comment but did not receive a response in time for press.

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