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Does your Sexual Orientation Affect your Career?

Does your Sexual Orientation Affect your Career?

Does your Sexual Orientation Affect your Career?

Sexual orientation discrimination can affect your job status, your working environment, your health benefits, and a host of other issues in the workplace. The law in this area is changing rapidly for the better.

1 What does it mean to be an LGBT member?

Firstly, it is important to understand the basic definitions of sexual orientation. This refers to those who are gay, straight, or bisexual, and also covers gender identity, which defines how an individual identifies as a man or woman, where this is opposed to their anatomical sex at birth. A familiar preconception is that all trans people are gay. Many transsexuals identify as straight, and it’s common for trans women to have male partners, and for trans men to have female partners.

LGBT people may be able to tap into the massive upsurge in the popularity of online dating outlets where they can interact with like-minded individuals, but they still have to cope with a degree of prejudice. If you are a member of the LGBT community, you can certainly choose from a diverse range of digital outlets where you’ll be able to touch base with kindred spirits in chat rooms and matchmaking platforms.

Sites such as are so much more than mere platforms where anyone interested in a same-sex relationship can reach out to prospective partners. They are vibrant online communities, providing valuable information resources for the marginalized.

Does your Sexual Orientation Affect your Career?

Away from virtual interaction, being LGBT can present challenges. The bottom line is that your sexual orientation is private to you. Many singles enjoy the security of registering with online resources because they can protect their accounts with be secured by privacy status. Flirty conversations can remain discreet, and the sharing of candid images or videos protected by a layer of security. But LGBT people still need to deal with detrimental attention in the real world.

The question of why anyone’s sexual orientation should be anyone else’s business but their own might seem mystifying to the majority of people today. After all, we live in a society protected by human rights legislation, enshrined in United Nations resolutions. But it has been a long struggle for transgender or genders non-conforming people to get to this place, especially given that a combination of mainstream religion and conservative outlooks means some are less open to equality than others.

2 Discrimination in the workplace

In most countries in the Western world, workplace discrimination has been governed by employment laws for decades. But you might have strong reasons for keeping the truth to yourself, particularly if you live in a religiously or culturally intolerant community. If you are an LGBT individual, are you under any obligation to disclose this to employers? The short answer to that is ‘no.’ This is a private matter, and there are laws that specifically guard your right to keep this information under wraps if you’ve decided you don’t wish to disclose it.

On the other hand, it is often the case that work colleagues can make assumptions. If you’re a gay male, they might wonder why you appear less enthusiastic about joining in the conversations or banter when they’re discussing the females they like. People have a habit of picking up on little things and can be quick to gossip behind others’ backs. In turn, this could lead to harassment, and when the word spreads, outright discrimination.

At this point, it would be best to broach the subject with your HR department.

Again, whoever you spoke to when seeking support would be required by law for anything you wish to be kept in confidence to stay that way. But the circumstances would be problematic if you’d chosen not to make your sexual orientation public, in which case the company could simply state that because you had chosen to keep things private, they had no idea of the truth. This would make it much more difficult to hold your employer responsible for resolving discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Although you may have reasons for choosing to withhold this information, if you choose to admit the truth from the outset, whether to co-workers, or friends and family, you will likely find those who are supportive will outweigh those who remain ignorant. The moment you state the facts of the matter, you will fall within the remit of basic civil rights protections. Anyone found guilty of harassing you or being prejudicial for no other reason than your sexual orientation will then be breaking the law, and could face prosecution.

But what about behavior that might not necessarily be considered outright discrimination, such as joking, or overhearing a colleague making slurs about yourself, or LGBT people in general? This is where counterarguments can be made about what constitutes offensive remarks, and what can be construed as humor – surely an aspect of any society where the right to free speech is just as basic as the freedom to express sexual orientation or embrace gender identity?

Does your Sexual Orientation Affect your Career?

Some courts have held that humor can be offensive, but this has to be carefully balanced with the nuances of individual situations. Taking the USA as an example, where federal law, and indeed the laws of the majority of the 50 individual states are concerned, offhand comments, teasing, or one-off incidents are treated with caution as they are not necessarily prohibited.

Where the legislation will be far more conclusive will be in more obvious cases of discriminatory actions, such as failing to address an openly hostile working environment, or when there has been discrimination against your sexual orientation in issues such as promotion, or summary dismissal.

3 So is it worth hiding your homosexuality?

To summarize, for all the reasons underlined, there are arguments for and against ‘coming out.’ When people opt to hide their sexual orientation, this is a form of censorship of their basic human rights. The widespread notion of inclusivity, and the positivity of social media campaigns, and ‘pride’ events, means that ignorance tends to stand out because it is practiced by a minority. In many instances, it still requires a lot of courage to ‘come out,’ but just remember that the moment you do, you will have the full force of the law to protect you.

Does your Sexual Orientation Affect your Career?