The Gay Lesbian or Whatever organization held the Queer in Your Career event April 16. The purpose of the event was for students to hear what the workforce is like from the perspective of professionals who identify as LBGTQ.
The panel was comprised of E-ben Grisby, a special education teacher; Jen Burkhardt, the co-founder of Bootstrap Social Media; and Rachel Crowl, the manager of the Lawrence University website.
Everyone on the panel was contacted based on some connection to Lawrence, either through friends or significant others.
Sophomore Reiko Ramos, a GLOW member and organizer of the event, saw that the panel was especially relevant for college-aged young adults.
Ramos said, “For all college students, the transition into the work force is an intimidating experience. This may be even more so an issue for students moving from a place like Lawrence, where they feel comfortable sharing certain aspects of their identity to a place that may not be as accepting.”
Faculty advisor for GLOW, Lawrence Lecturer of Gender and Freshman Studies Helen Boyd-Kramer, echoed the need for students to be able to listen to the experiences of others.
Boyd-Kramer commented, “Everyone needs visible role models, and for LGBTQ students or members of any marginalized group, it’s especially important because dealing with subtle and not so subtle forms of discrimination is still the norm.”
Panelists discussed a variety of topics ranging from whether they were personally out at work to how coming out is a different experience than in the past.
Toward the conclusion of the discussion, Crowl seemed hopeful that conditions for those who are LGBTQ are improving.
Said Crowl, “It’s jaw-droppingly different than 10 years ago.” She stated that while adults still support younger people who are considering coming out, it “won’t be as paramount anymore.”
One skill that panelists found important for the workplace was being able to judge a workplace effectively. Grisby summarized the issue: “Know your surroundings.” Some found seeking allies as an important step in feeling safe and integrated in the workplace.
Panelists also urged students to think practically. Said Burkhardt, “Be respectful. It’s not a pride parade, it’s your workplace.”
The bottom line for all the panelists was the importance of a professional’s work and their work ethic speaking for them instead of their sexuality or gender. Burkhardt advised all attendees to “lead with your work.”