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Addressing concerns about LGBTQ discrimination during a job search

Tribune Content Agency logoTribune Content Agency 3/6/2019 By Kathleen Furore, Tribune Content Agency
a close up of a toy: There are resources that can help LGBTQ job seekers know what they’re up against. © Dreamstime There are resources that can help LGBTQ job seekers know what they’re up against.

DEAR READERS: A friend recently confided that she is concerned about the job prospects for a 20-something, soon-to-graduate relative who is living an openly gay lifestyle -- especially because her family member lives in a pretty conservative area of the country. That made me wonder how members of the LGBTQ community can counter any prejudice they might encounter on their career path.

As far as we've come in the area of LGBTQ rights, unfortunately there's still a long way to go. As Emily Kikue Frank, a career counselor and coach at Career Catalyst who works with many LGBTQ clients, told me, "Depending on the state, LGBTQ discrimination can be a very charged and difficult situation."

There are basically two ways to approach the job search, Frank says.

One option is to omit any information that might flag sexual orientation -- things like membership in an LGBTQ advocacy group, for example -- from a resume or job application. Another is to be upfront from the beginning.

"My best advice is to either be very out and proud on the resume in order to weed out discriminatory employers, or to be very quiet about personal information," she says.

That decision, of course, is very personal. But whatever the decision, "...weigh other factors like race and gender identity, since most often, female-identified people and people of color struggle more to be believed and taken seriously when it comes to mistreatment," Frank cautions.

And definitely be aware that many states offer no legal protection at all for people who identify as LGBTQ.

"In some of those states, an employer can legally fire or refuse to hire an otherwise qualified candidate simply because that person is gay," Frank explains. And even in states with legal protections in place, concerns about discrimination remain, and cases related to gender discrimination are difficult to prove, she adds.

Thankfully, there are resources that can help LGBTQ job seekers know what they're up against. Among them:

--The Movement Advancement Project, MAPP, which provides information about state and local laws and policies that protect or harm LGBT people, providing a breakdown of those laws and policies by state. http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps

--The Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which rates workplaces on LGBTQ equality. https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index

(Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at kfurore@yahoo.com.)

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