By: Michael Brill – Junior, UD College Democrats President
In Ohio, you can be fired for being gay. Shocked? If so, you’re not alone. The majority of Ohioans have no idea that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people can be legally discriminated against in employment and housing in our state. These Ohioans may have to conceal their sexual orientations or gender identities at their workplace because they fear discrimination.
LGBT workers are just like any other worker. They work hard to provide for themselves and their partners and children. One-in-five same-sex couples in Ohio are supporting children, and would struggle to do so if dismissed from work due to their sexuality.
To further illustrate the impact LGBT workplace discrimination can have on a person, think of a job that you hold now, or have held in the past. Imagine that one day at work, your employer comes to you, and calls you into their office. They applaud your recent work, and tell you that you are an exemplary employee. However, rumors have been circulating throughout the workplace. Many of your coworkers believe that you may be LGBT. Your supposed sexual orientation or gender identity has made the workplace uncomfortable for them.
For this reason, your boss informs you that you are being dismissed from your position. It doesn’t matter if you identify as LGBT or not. The mere suspicion that you are is grounds to be fired from your job. This can happen to any Ohio worker, gay, or straight.
If you are one of the 79 percent of Ohioans who believes this is wrong, and that LGBT Ohioans should not be victims of discrimination at work, there are ways to help. The simplest way is by writing letters to your state legislators in support of the Equal Housing and Employment Act. Every Ohio voter has two state legislators: a state representative and a state senator. These public officials convene in Columbus to create laws for the residents of Ohio. If you live on campus, and are registered to vote at your campus address, your state legislators are listed to the right.
If you are registered elsewhere in Ohio, you can visit http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/ to learn who your state legislators are. A personal letter to your legislators can be extremely persuasive. To them, it is important to know how voters genuinely feel about an issue, and personal letters do just that.
For that reason, I am holding a letter-writing session in KU 310 from 6 P.M. – 6:30 P.M. on Sept. 4th. This session will be an easy way for students to write letters while letting me worry about envelopes, postage, and addresses. If you cannot make the session, feel free to email me your letters, and I will print them out and mail them for you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, if you would like to learn more about this issue, please visit equalityohio.org.