Often when I am presenting around the country, I bring up the issue of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) rights, and I get this response, “Jamie, I understand what you’re trying to say, but I don’t believe it is morally acceptable for someone to be Gay.”
Though I find this sentiment troubling and filled with heterosexism, I find it best not to respond to the question directly. Instead, I say, “Well, I am not going to engage you on that point. Instead, let me ask you a question. Should someone, regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender identity, feel safe to walk the streets and feel secure in their job, in their livelihood?”
Every time I have asked this question, I get the same answer: an enthusiastic YES!
Therein lies the problem. Our society treats Lesbian, Gy, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning folks as second-class citizens. How can we even begin a conversation about marriage equality when LGBTQ people cannot walk down the street, apply for a job, or express themselves openly in their workplace without fear?
This morning I was reading the news, and I came across an article describing the findings of Harvard researcher Andras Tilcsik. Tilcsik sent out the two counterfeit resumes to the same 1700 job openings around the country. The only real difference between the resumes is that half identified the applicant as having been the treasurer in a Gay college campus organization. Tilcsik found that those resumes that identified the candidate as Gay (or at minimum a Straight Ally) were 40% less likely to get a call back than the resumes that said nothing of Sexual Orientation. Notably, there was also tremendous regional differences, with those employers in the Midwest and South much more likely to discriminate than those in, say, the North East.
I suppose I wasn’t at all surprised by the findings of the study, but it did catch my eye because it simply adds to the patchwork of discrimination against LGBTQ people in this country.