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LGBTQIA+ Students Share Thoughts on Employment: Part 1 of 2

By Geneva Sambor; For The Clock
On April 24, 2016

LGBTQIA+ Students Share Thoughts on Employment: Part 1 of 2

Geneva Sambor

For The Clock

gs1012@plymouth.edu

As the semester comes to a close, our graduating seniors are preparing to enter the working world. The Clock staff spoke with members of the LGBTQIA+ community regarding their employment opportunities for the future. The story was inspired by Kirsten Roman, Junior Elementary Education major, and her experience with a previous academic advisor, who told her to omit her involvement with PSU Pride entirely from her resume if she was to be successful.

Madison Scammon, Second-Year Criminal Justice Major is optimistic about employment in her field of study, but is selective in her choice of concentration, “I don't want to ever be accused of something sexually inappropriate, which my status as being someone who is openly gay could really affect my career. As a correctional officer, if I ended up having to actually go into the bathroom and watch them, or do booking which is where you strip search, I feel that would leave a lot of room for harassment law suits.” Scammon said, “I'm 50/50 between law enforcement and corrections, but I do know that with corrections especially there is a lot of corrections officer-inmate involvement.”

Liam Tabor, Senior BFA Studio Art major who has been vocal about his transgender experience shares, “I have been incredibly hesitant to apply for post-graduation positions, due to the status of my legal name and gender markers. No matter how impressive my resume or interview skills signing my legal name or a back-ground check could disqualify me as an applicant to the wrong employer.” Tabor has a positive outlook about future employment for all LGBTQIA+ members in the US, “As a soon-to-be college graduate, I am both terrified and excited to leave the world of academia and begin forming the next chapters of my life through professional development. Trans and gender nonconforming people still hold some of the highest rates of unemployment; employment discrimination is actually still supported by law in many places. However, even in the past few years I have seen employer support for members of the LGBTQ+ community increase, including employment benefits. I am extremely hopeful that this upward trend will not only continue, but skyrocket.” He adds, “In New Hampshire, a person’s gender is not legally considered grounds for discrimination and therefore it is completely legal to refuse to hire someone based on their status as a transgender person.”

When asked about which professional positions seem more discriminatory than others, Tabor said, “The positions that often seem to be the most discriminatory toward LGBTQ+ individuals are those positions that deal with children especially teaching or instructing of any kind, people fear that somehow us living authentically will negatively affect others-namely children.” Tabor concludes, “I think discrimination in the hiring process, in this case toward the LGBTQ+ community, is an issue largely ignored by society and our education system. One of the few ways I can think to prepare LGBTQ+ students for the potential discrimination they may face is to educate them on where and how their rights are and aren't protected, as well as how to research and find LGBTQ+ friendly employers.”

Shaun Connors, Transgender Social Work Mental Health Option Major holds a myriad of titles on PSU campus, HUB Building Manager, PSU Pride Co-President, Queer Counsel Member, PASS Office Study Skills Tutor, Practicum Student for the Office of Community Development and Diversity. He shares, “I have been forced into some negative situations when working, particularly in retail, for being trans. Things like having to use my birth name, or pronouns that do not match my gender presentation. I think about employment a lot, because there aren’t really legal protections in many places for people who are LGBTQ so it’s a real and often daunting issue to consider.” Connors continues, “I particularly think of our LGBTQ+ youth when I’m thinking about unemployment. What messages does it send to these young people if they’re seeing or experiencing unfair hiring practices as related to LGBTQ+ issues? Will they get the overarching message that it’s not okay for them to be out at work or authentically themselves? Will that impact their mental health or self-image? Will they struggle with being homeless but authentic or being closeted and employed? These issues are real and they are not going away unless there are some serious considerations made regarding these issues.” Connors concludes, “I think I’m lucky, social work is generally an affirming field, it’s even written into our code of ethics. I worry for many of my colleagues going into teaching and if they will experience discrimination because of their identities. I am excited to get my feet wet and show the world what I’ve got to offer. I know that I have the skills to succeed in the professional world, now I’ve just got to convince someone that I’m worth their time.”

Part 2 of article will be featured in the next issue of the Clock, where Alumni of PSU and Professionals share their experiences. 

CLOCK PHOTO: ALEX CROSSLEY 

 

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