I chose to research this topic particularly to broaden my understanding of sexual orientation in the workplace. The information that I found was very interesting, considering attitudes and practices concerning sexual orientation are undergoing dramatic change (Lubensky, Hollland, Wiethoff, Crosby, 2004). On a personal level, I have not found sexual orientation to hinder my professional development. Apparently for larger corporations, such as Eastman Kodak and IBM, many strides are being made to achieve a "gay-friendly" workplace. Although their intentions are meant well, I do not feel as if I agree with all of their practices. On the other hand, the US Army has gone as far as expelling their gay and lesbian members. Background Information
In the late 40's, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder, and most social scientists that paid attention to the issue at all were engaged in the development of treatments to change into heterosexuals those who expressed gay or lesbian feelings (Silverstein, 1991). I cannot believe that almost 70 years later, we, as a country are still so ignorant as to want to "change" homosexual's feelings and behaviors. This is not to say we have not made any advancement in narrow-minded thinking. The Gallup Poll finds that a gay, lesbian, and bisexual lifestyle has accordingly become more acceptable over time. For the first time since Gallup started collecting data in 1977, more than half of the general population feels that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal (Newport, 2001). One behavioral indicator of the change in attitudes is the growth in the number of groups that advocate on the behalf of the homosexual population (Lubensky, Holland, Wiethoff, Crosby, 2004). The Human Rights Campaign was founded in 1980 to provide a national voice to the gay and lesbian issues. This campaign lobbies congress, invests in election campaigns, and increases public knowledge through education and communication. Advocating groups such as the HRC help the cause of eliminating prejudice, yet the Gallup Poll still reports that 48 percent of Americans still disapprove of same-sex relations (Newport, 2001). Not surprisingly, homosexual males elicit more disapprobation than lesbians (Kite and Deaux, 1986). Research suggests the much of this disapproval may stem from the people with strong conservative religious orientations. People with fundamentalist Christian religious orientations report more prejudicial attitudes toward gay and lesbians that do less conservative or non-religious people (Kirkpatrick, 1993; McFarland, 1989). Much of this religious disapproval leads to discrimination because Christians discriminate against those who do not share their same personal values and beliefs. This is why I personally feel that many gay and lesbians do not feel connected to the church and cannot establish a spiritual connection to others. The lack of social connects can often lead negative behavior. Nine out of ten gay males and lesbian report being the victims of verbal abuse and threats, and more than one in five has been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation (Elliot, 2000; Herek, 1989). Gay and lesbians are more likely to be the victim of hate crimes than any other social group (Nelson and Krieger, 1997). On May 28, 1998, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13087 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the federal government. By 2002, twelve states had passed ordinances banning sexual orientation discrimination pertaining to housing, employment, and other forums. Fifty-nine percent of Fortune 500 companies included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies in 2004. Also, none of the Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partner benefits 20 years ago, while thirty percent of them currently do (Lubensky, Holland, Wiethoff,...
Bibliography: Harrison, Sarah (2008). Equality for Gay Staff Can Only be Good for the Workforce as a Whole. Nursing Standard, 22 (22), p. 12-13
Lubensky, Micah E., Holland, Sarah L., Wiethoff, Carolyn, Crosby, Faye J. (2004). Diversity and Sexual Orientation: Including and Valuing Sexual Minorities in the Workplace. In the Psychology and Management of Workplace Diversity (Margaret S. Stockdale and Faye J. Crosby Eds.), Blackwell Publishing; Malden, M.A., p. 206-223.
Billings-Harris, Lenora, Sexual Orientation in the Workplace. Retrieved April 1, 2008 http://sideroad.com/Diversity_in_the_Workplace/sexual-orientation-in-the-workplace.html
I feel that by surveying and identifying their gay and lesbian employees, companies are exploiting them. Companies may even bring about more discrimination by identifying its homosexual population. They are not asking the behind-closed-doors activities of their heterosexual population. It is blatant inequity of the treatment of employees. A person’s sexual preference does not affect all aspects of their life. It should certainly not be a factor in determining how well I perform my job. Discrimination of ANY kind, whether pertaining to gender, race, or sexual orientation should not be tolerated anywhere at anytime. Being gay shouldn’t affect how you treat others or how to interact with co-workers.
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