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Mace & Crown | December 13, 2017

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'Out at Work' Discusses Sexuality in the Workplace

Justin L.C. Ross
Contributing Writer

Although progress for equal rights in the workplace for members of the LGBT continues to push forward, some people still feel that revealing their sexuality will have negative consequences. The Office of Intercultural Relations made this topic the focus of their continuing “Brown Bag Lunch” series on March 15 titled “Out at Work.” The discussion revolved around the difficulties surrounding the LGBT community in the workplace in both the private and public sectors. The series was hosted by Erika Smith who is an advocate for the LGBT community and a graduate assistant.

“There are many difficult and deeply ingrained biases facing the individuals of the LGBT and LGBTQ community within the workplace, many of which are entirely legal, and even encouraged by certain laws within the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Smith said.

These laws include, but are not limited to, “House Bill 2025 Religious Freedom; solemnization of marriage”, which is a piece of “discriminatory legislation that seeks to give taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers a license to discriminate against LGBT people under the guise of religion,” according to the Human Rights Campaign. Similar state laws are currently being put on the back burner due to an executive order issued by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, however the order is soon to expire after his term ends in 2018.

“I was unaware of the lack of protection afforded to the LGBT community by Virginia Law and the Executive Order issued by Governor McAuliffe,” Kevin Martinez said. He also expressed shock knowing that this was being the only legal protection stopping such biased and discriminatory laws from coming into effect.

To fight discriminatory legislation, many private organizations and facilities have banded together in unity to resist these laws and help their fellow citizens by providing hateful workplace environments and hiring anyone regardless of sexuality.

The Office of Intercultural relations also spoke about the upcoming Career Fair on March 23 that will host a variety of different resources for Monarchs looking for a start to their careers.

“There are many resources on campus to help every monarch, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation find viable employment opportunities that align with their appropriate degree and field of study” Dexter Benjamin Gore said regarding the university’s online job search engine, Career Link.

The feeling of mutual support and community was strengthened during such a difficult and uncertain political climate in today’s society. As the event came to a close with an open discussion, each student took the opportunity to broaden their perspectives on the options available to them in the current job market. Despite the numerous obstacles that still exist within the current societal structures for members of the LGBT community, progress continues to be made as these individuals are informed of their rights and options that are available to them.