Me, the Box and the Hiring Manager: Check yes or no.

Pen Checking Box

 

So I encountered something new and strange and awkward today.

 

A few weeks ago I dropped my resume into a job bank website for DC, and tonight, I got a curious little email.

 

It stated that it had made some changes to the bank website and if it so pleased me, I could resubmit my application including the questions that lead up to the CONFIRM button.

 

Specifically, it stated that they now included “LGBT Individuals” under the minority category and if the applicant in question identified as such a person, they should make their mark.

 

Um.

 

Immediately after reading this, an ethical dilemma with a billion caveats began spinning in my head like a broken record.

 

Can I do this? Can I really use my sexual orientation as a step-ladder to employment? Why shouldn’t I? Why should I? What specifically do they mean by LGBT? Like is it ONLY people that are practicing? If I get the job will they welcome me in as their Gay employee? Will I become a poster child for someone else’s diversity cred? Is it disrespectful to myself if I let them define me? Or is it disrespectful to myself if I deny myself an advantage? Am I lying if I don’t check it? WHO is going to read this anyway?? And does this suddenly become public information? Why am I still reading this? Check the box! No no no no NO, don’t check the box! It’s just a box! IT’s a big BOX!

 

I’ve since moved on.

 

But it is a question all sexual minorities need to reckon with… Do we check the box?

 

Especially individuals not all the way out and those still wrestling with it all.

Which raises another question- Can you only identify as LGBT if you are fully out?

 

I believe in the box because of its principle. LGBT folks have had a history of being denied employment because their orientation. Equality and diversity matter.

 

But on the flip side of that token, I worry about the box casting a shadow over my qualifications. I worry about the hiring manager sifting through submissions, and upon seeing my mark, shouting to his manager, “found one!” I worry about that big cloud of suspicion hanging over my head if I was hired. I worry about questioning why I got the job. And what if I decide to be celibate forever? Does mere orientation count as LGBT? What makes someone LGBT?

 

Weigh in.

 

RR

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10 thoughts on “Me, the Box and the Hiring Manager: Check yes or no.

  1. Hey RR, thanks for posting! I started to consider myself bi in college, though I had yet to date anybody of any sex. To make myself comfortable with the idea, I phrased it as “the world would consider me bi.” I’m now in a monogamous homosexual relationship, but am not out to very many people. I naturally shy away from checking any box to describe myself because I feel I’m “outside the box” 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting! I really really like that-> “outside the box”. I feel like the “world would consider me gay” but checking a box feels… like a show of weakness or something. I don’t want to have to wonder about whether I’m being picked on my merits or my sexuality. Haha and this may sound a bit funny but are they asking me to lie if I put no? Not sure… Thank you soo much for your input!

  2. I would struggle with that check box as well. Just as I already struggle with the disability check box. Having been given the diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis in 2005 and for a while having a legitimate permanent (blue) handicap placard for my car, I was indeed disabled at one time. However with new medication, new diet, and exercise, I am not really disabled, and definitely not experiencing deficits everyday like I was. But because I have that history and diagnosis I still officially qualify as being a person with a disability. So sometimes I check the box and sometimes I don’t. Because, like you I wonder: Will my application get chucked or accepted just because of that box? Or, will there be assumptions made of my character because of that box? Will I be treated any differently if I get the job and I checked the box? Etc. I would feel very similarly about the LGBT box. I am a sexual minority, but I don’t label myself as lesbian (or gay), so should I check the LGBT box? That’s a good question. I would probably check it on some occasions and not others, just like I do with my disability box now…such a go-with-the-moment kind of thing I suppose. But good to make us have to think…

    • And that’s perhaps the struggle I have right now. Is it the box a Big Deal? Is the office simply seeking a more diverse community? Is it only for those fully out? Is it a permanent statement on my profile?

      And yes, I hardly want a judgment on my character (or any assumptions) based on a box.

      Thank you for your comment Dr. Carr! Your insights are always appreciated!

  3. Hmmm. Since I’m straight, I’d check the “straight” box if there were one, and I’d do that even if I weren’t sexually active or romantically interested in a member of the opposite sex simply based on the fact that I would have experienced opposite-sex attraction at some point in order to identify as straight. But man, oh, man, that is a really interesting question!!!

    • True and that’s the heart of my dilemma! It makes sense to check the box but at the same time, organizations are so into having lgbt ppl employed now in order to appear pro diversity. Part of me does and part of me doesn’t want to play a part in that. Depends on their motivations…. Which I have no way of finding out!

      As always, love and cherish you Survivor Girl.

  4. Oh man. That’s a tough one. As a heterosexual mom who has faced plenty of discrimination (when I practiced law), I’d say “no.” Not out of shame of course, but because so many discriminate and because what you do in your bedroom and whom you do it with is no one’s freakin’ business.

    • I agree with you El, but I’m trying to figure out whether its more of an issue of “checkbox diversity” which I actually think is both good and bad. But to say I can be summed up in one letter… Feels like I’m being boxed in! Ha- i never realized that I would one day have to face such a box. It’s weird.

      Thanks for commenting el!

  5. That’s a hard question. I’ve often wondered if one of the reasons I couldn’t find a job for half a year was because of how androgynous I look. One manager who took my application asked me what gender I was! I don’t know if that plays a factor with none of those companies hiring me or not. There’s no real way of knowing, and no matter how professional I looked, it never seemed to make a difference.

    When I was finally hired, it was with a company that had a diversity-affirming statement on their website. They had check-boxes for not just sexual orientation, but also gender identity, ethnicity, disability, and so forth. I checked what was relevant, mostly because at this point I no longer worried if it would negatively impact me. I just desperately needed a job, and if it helped, then I was willing to try.

    I think the intent – to try to make sure no one is discriminated against unfairly during the hiring process – is good, but I’m not sure how well it works in practice. I think each of us has to make that decision ourselves, for we are coming out in a way to those that process that application when we check that box. We don’t know if we’ll ever meet those people who say that check-box or what they will say to others about us. We don’t know if it will have a positive or negative impact on the hiring process or if we’re hired, our employment there. It can be a big risk, so I can completely understand your hesitation there.

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