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What does overt discrimination mean?

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Quick Answer

Overt discrimination is discrimination that is clear and often public. Various laws prohibit certain types of overt discrimination, and its prevalence has dropped considerably over the years. Subtle discrimination, however, is still common.

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Full Answer

Refusing to hire or provide services to someone based on gender, race, religion or age is a common form of overt discrimination, and this behavior was common during much of the 20th century. Various laws have been passed to forbid certain types of overt discrimination, but they can be difficult to enforce. Overt discrimination can also occur with housing and public accommodations.

Not all forms of overt discrimination are illegal. In many states, people can face discrimination based on their sexual orientation; transgender individuals are protected in even fewer states. Some argue that forbidding same-sex marriage is a form of overt discrimination.

There are also forms of subtle discrimination, and people who discriminate can often do so by maintaining plausible deniability. Subtle discrimination can be difficult to spot; it may even be done subconsciously. However, people facing this kind of discrimination notice it over time, and those who deal with it on a regular basis sometimes have trouble coping with it. Some studies suggest that subtle discrimination can be more damaging than overt discrimination.

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