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What to do; Queer in your Career

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Woman stands behind podium in front of presentation screen

Brian DeWitt is no stranger to discrimination for being gay. It’s a constant factor in his life ever since he was growing up in the small town of Sierra Vista, Arizona.

DeWitt was one of many students sitting at the Northridge Center April 6 as the Pride Center, Faculty Senate Educational Equity Committee, David Nazarian College of Business & Economics, and Alumni Relations presented, “Queer in your Career,” event.

The event, which is the first of its kind at CSUN, aimed to bring professionals of various careers together to guide and help students who may have questions about coming out in their respective careers.

DeWitt, an accounting major at CSUN, said that he struggled with discrimination early on.

“In my high school, I was starting an LGBTQ club and I faced a lot of discrimination from the faculty there. They were running me through a lot of hoops and run-arounds — even with small things like paperwork,” DeWitt said. “We’re so lucky to be living in a city where there is an example of every kind of walk of life.”

It’s these examples of discrimination that this event is trying to prevent, said Sarina Loeb, the coordinator of the Pride Center at CSUN.

Dialogue

Paul Lazarony, left, department chair for the accounting and information systems department, engages in a discussion with Nachiketa Dandige, a member of the audience at the first ever, “Queer in your Career,” event that took place Wednesday, April 6 at the Northridge Center in the University Student Union. Photo credit: Erik Luna

“[Students] can and should be able to be their authentic selves,” Loeb said. “When I’ve had jobs outside of higher education, being out was definitely a concern. ‘Should I come out to my co-workers? Is it going to be safe? Are they going to treat me differently? Are they going to ostracize me?’ I think that’s a fear a lot of people face.”

Tita Gray, who holds a doctorate in education and is the assistant dean of Student Affairs at San Diego State University, gave the keynote speech at the event. Gray discussed her own story about discrimination about succeeding in business as a gay, black woman.

“I always built a network of people around me that saw the good in who I was as a person, and that saw my skills and expertise as the most important part of me — not who I chose to love,” Gray said in her keynote speech.

During her keynote speech, Gray opened up to the audience and told a small story about her life as a disk jockey and how it led her to success. She mentioned that she had been up for a job, but was passed over on account of her sexual preference.

“If somebody doesn’t want you some place, it’s probably the best thing for you,” Gray said in her speech on the ordeal.

The event culminated with a panel discussion led by Accounting and Information Systems Department Chair Paul Lazarony. The panel consisted of five professionals from various careers, and not just those directly connected to the LGBTQ community.

Answers

Alex Ford, a registered nurse at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, fields questions as part of the panel for the first ever, “Queer in your Career,” event that took place Wednesday, April 6 at the Northridge Center in the University Student Union. Photo credit: Erik Luna

The panel was made up of registered nurse Alex Ford, Los Angeles Unified School District teacher Susan Simpson, Capital Ground Co. global risk management analyst Gabriel Martinez, Sabroso Café owner Kery Ramirez and KPMG LLP advisory services practice director Ronora Sayaman.

After the discussion, Lazarony opened up the floor for questions for the panelists. Students took turns asking questions to further understand and glean any information and advice from the professionals.

“The LGBTQ community is so diverse, so it was important that we had a diverse panel that would be well represented, and I think we did a good job,” Lazarony said. “Even I learned things tonight. The choice of being out at work, and having that discussion with the students and all of the out professionals, I really hope it changes students’ lives and lets them know that there are resources out there to help them.”

Questions

CSUN student Timothy Nang asks a question to the panel of professionals that are openly out in their careers at the first ever, “Queer in your Career,” event that took place Wednesday, April 6 at the Northridge Center in the University Student Union. Photo credit: Erik Luna

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3 Comments

  1. Teddy Edwards Apr 9, 2016

    There is little discrimination against LGBTQ now, it is practically non-existent.

    And not all discrimination in unjustified. Justified discrimination against a gay hire is when you fire him for relentlessly propositioning every male client or prospective customer that walks through the door and grabbing the behind of the married copy boy as he’s working and been warned to stop it. And then the gay sues his employer because you won’t “accept who he is”. You know, “authentically”.

    I suspect most discrimination against the gay community is really objectively justified.

    But virtue-signaling supporters of LGBTQ dare not rock the boat and call an awful gay person on their behavior for fear of being “othered” by the gay community.

    1. Pablo Cora Apr 15, 2016

      Terry: The behavior you describe above is unacceptable for ANY person irrespective of age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, or sexual orientation. So if your employee did those things, it will all come out during the trial and you will be vindicated. That said, discrimination is NEVER justified. NEVER.

      I am fortunate enough to work for a company that has earned a 100% in the HRC Corporate Equality Index for the last 11 years, so I feel that people value my work AND the contributions I add to the workplace precisely for being a member of the LGBTQ family. But I encourage you to better inform yourself as to the state of the LGBTQ’s community and what you perceive to be non-existent discrimination. Gay and transgender people continue to face high rates of workplace discrimination and harassment. Studies show that anywhere from 15 percent to 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment at the workplace. Moreover, a staggering 90 percent of transgender workers report some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job. Straight coworkers also attest to the presence of discrimination and harassment against LGBT workers. The Williams Institute’s report found that 12 percent to 30 percent of straight workers witnessed discrimination in the workforce based on sexual orientation.
      Again, I encourage you to stay vigilant against ALL forms of discrimination. We are only better when we all bring our gifts and experience to the table.

      1. Teddy Edwards Apr 15, 2016

        We disagree so your conclusion is I must be wrong. This is a complaint heard often about the LBGTQ community: the activists follow an agenda and a narrative of victimhood. This guarantees misery in the community and, ironically, LBGTQ leaders perpetuate it, feeling to do otherwise might cause them to lose ground in some “war on gays” or “war for inequality”. It doesn’t exist. But like anything, if you look for it, your mind will cause you see it. Like when one is about to buy a new car brand, you suddenly see that brand everywhere.

        Thanks for responding.

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