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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Discrimination possible

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and asexual students going into the workforce learned different ways they might be discriminated against in Texas.

UH students gathered last week to participate in a LGBTQIA career resources workshop designed to prepare them for the transition from college to a career.

Clare Duffy, pre-doctoral intern from Counseling and Psychological Services, and Lisa Renaud, senior career Counselor for University Career Services, put the workshop together.

“The laws against employment and workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity vary from state to state,” Renaud said in an email. “Texas’ non-discrimination law does not explicitly address sexual orientation discrimination or gender identity discrimination.”

This means LGBTQIA individuals can legally be fired from their jobs if their employer does not agree with their orientation or gender identity expression.

“Every student has concerns or questions when searching for a job or considering a career change. This process can be stressful and difficult to navigate, but our LGBTQIA students are likely to have additional issues related to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity,” Duffy said.

This puts an additional strain on LGBTQIA students as they decide whether or not to disclose their orientation to prospective or current employers in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable job market.

Renaud believes coming out to a current or prospective employer is a personal decision and should be carefully considered.

“There are no fixed rules for LGBT students in the job search; each decision and situation must be considered on its own terms,” Renauld said.

According to Duffy, there are several questions LGBTQIA individuals should consider before deciding if they are going to come out to their prospective or current employer.

For individuals who consider being “out” a significant part of who they are, Duffy suggests that they target LGBTQIA friendly employers. If an individual believes their orientation is only a small part of what defines them as a person, Duffy suggests leaning towards LGBTQIA- friendly employers, but keeping their options open.

Duffy recommends that individuals who prefer not to share personal information look for an employer that provides a high degree of privacy.

“LGBT job seekers are encouraged to research employers on websites, like the Human Rights Campaign,” Renaud said. “The HRC’s Corporate Equality Index report, released each fall, provides an in-depth analysis and ratings of large US employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.”

According to Renauld and Duffy, LGBTQIA students should practice questions dealing with their sexual orientation in mock interviews, and familiarize themselves with what questions employers cannot legally ask them in interviews.

However, even after getting a job, LGBTQIA individuals may find themselves the victims of various forms of workplace discrimination.

Duffy believes there are several things that should be done before reporting such discrimination.

“We recommend that the individual carefully and honestly evaluate the situation, document specific incidents of the discrimination, determine the best course of action, and then if needed, take formal steps such as talking with human resources, filing an internal complaint, or legal remedies,” Duffy said. “It is important to find support in this process. Talk to friends, family, co-workers, or a counselor.”

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