Fear of being fired: LGBTQ professionals fight for equalityWritten by Emily Hickey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
During college, I worked tirelessly each and every day to be a suitable choice for my future employer.
I networked with area small business owners, teachers, doctors, financial planners, executives, etc. I, along with the help of our members, restructured my student organization’s entire structure, which led me to hold the position of president. I held a dual internship at the University of Toledo during my senior year to enhance my writing and social media skills. I earned a bachelor’s degree.
I did the best I could to prepare for the real world and began my job two days after graduation. While I faced many challenges during the first year and a half of my career, I endured one of my most difficult challenges only a few weeks ago. My firm made some changes and let me go.
For months, I had feared this happening and not because of the lack of quality in my work but because of my sexual orientation. In all honesty, it was not out of fear of the people I worked with or the firm I worked for but because of the extreme lack of legal protection I had in Sylvania as a lesbian professional.
While I am very proud of my hometown of Toledo for passing local legislation that prohibits discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, I am very nervous for every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community member who works in the outlying areas of Sylvania, Swanton, Holland, Perrysburg and Maumee.
In these areas, there is no legislation to protect LGBTQ employees from being let go just because of who they are.
Just adding a few words to anti-discrimination company policies and local legislation could put thousands in the LGBTQ community at ease.
Unfortunately, while legal protection will allow us to move forward when it comes to equal employment, discrimination based on sexual orientation can be easily hidden. LGBTQ professionals could be fired due to tardiness when in reality their superior is homophobic.
My question is how would LGBTQ professionals stick up for themselves in the time prior to being fired without policies of protection? Especially for those who work in Sylvania, Swanton, Holland, Perrysburg or Maumee.
When I recently began my new career at UT, I was very impressed by the amount of protection it offers LGBTQ employees. Health care benefits for domestic partners, gender neutral bathrooms for transgender persons, diversity training for all faculty and staff, and safe place rainbow stickers outside offices of our allies for when members of our community are in need.
Those are just a few examples of how I will be well-protected at the university.
Working in Toledo gave me great professional confidence but working for an institution that went above and beyond the anti-discrimination legislation makes me proud to be a professional at the university.
Regardless of where you work or which company you work for, I encourage you to push your workplace a little harder to protect other members of the LGBTQ community in similar ways that UT is protecting me.
Be the change you wish to see in the world, today. As an advocate, as an ally, as a member of the LGBTQ community, please help us fight for equal opportunity employment throughout Northwest Ohio.
Speak with your company executives and human resource departments to see if your company policies protect LGBTQ professionals from discrimination.
Contact Equality Toledo to express your interest in passing local legislation in the areas I mentioned at email@example.com or visit www.equalityohio.org for more information on your city legislations. O