Resources For LGBT+ Students
Welcome to our resource page for LGBT+ Reedies! Here, you can find some resources and information we’ve compiled to help you navigate the world of internships, jobs, and scholarships as a LGBT+ student. However you identify your sexuality or gender, CLBR understands the unique challenges you may face, and we’re here to support you with everything from finding an accepting employer to dealing with discrimination; name, pronoun, and wardrobe concerns; and anything else you can think of. We’ve done our best to think about the barriers you face - but also the opportunities that you uniquely bring to a workplace or graduate school as a LGBT+ person. We want to empower you to reach for whatever success means to you, bring your talents to the world, and live with purpose. We’d love to meet you wherever you are - and we mean that literally and metaphorically - to talk about your life beyond Reed. And finally, we know we aren’t perfect: if you notice any ways we could improve this page, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding An Employer
No matter your identity, being in an LGBT+ accepting work environment can be a huge morale boost. Even if you don’t plan to ever come out at work, it can be affirming to be surrounded by people you know would accept you. Plus, it keeps your options open if you do ever want to come out at work, and keeps you safer if you’re ever outed involuntarily.
Some good ways to gauge how accepting a potential employer is include their non-discrimination policies (check out the Human Rights Campaign’s page on locating it), whether or not they use sensitivity trainings that address LGBT+ issues, the presence of gender-neutral bathrooms, and in-house support or employee groups of LGBT+ employees. Also remember to consider location: depending on your needs and goals, you may end up happier at a career with mediocre employer support in a city known for being LGBT+-friendly than at a company with strong LGBT+ support in a state where housing or healthcare discrimination are legal.
Finally, the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index is the universal go-to for finding the best LGBT+-affirming employers. View the 2018 list of workplaces that scored a 100% here, and search the whole index here.
We encourage you to take advantage ofReed’s Handshake, Vault, GoinGlobal, LinkedIn, and all the other job searching tools available to Reedies, so that you know about as many opportunities as possible. In addition to those, LGBTConnect, Out & Equal CareerLink, and ProGayJobs are job searching websites especially for LGBT+ people.
Illegal Interview Questions and How To Handle Them
In Oregon, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are protected from job discrimination by the 2007 Oregon Equality Act - regardless of what happens at the federal level. This also means that an interviewer isn’t legally allowed to even ask you questions about your gender, sexuality, or family. That said, the fact that it’s illegal doesn’t mean you’ll never be asked such a question during an interview. If you’re asked such a question during an interview, you’re not required to answer, and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to get up and leave if you’re not interested in working for that employer anymore. You could even consider making a complaint to the HR department of the hiring company or reporting them to a labor board. However, if you’re still interested in the position (perhaps you don’t think the individual interviewer reflects on the company as a whole?), you’ll need to respond in one of three main ways. You can politely decline to answer, which could include letting the interviewer know that such questions aren’t legally permissible; for example, “I think that’s a bit personal for a job interview, and the law backs me up on that one. Can we move on?” You can also look for the intent of the question and respond to that, if you can identify it. Finally, you could simply answer anyways - if, for example, you’re interviewing for an internship at a LGBT magazine, it’s still not legal for the interviewer to ask if you yourself are LGBT, but you might answer anyways since you’re in a supportive environment and you understand why it’s relevant. All of these possibilities have pros and cons, so you may want to decide on and prepare your answer before entering a situation where you might need it.
Coming Out (Or Not) At Work
Whether or not you come out at work is a deeply personal and important decision. On the plus side, you may feel more at home, accepted, and comfortable at your workplace if you don’t feel that you’re hiding anything from your coworkers, and coming out may open the door to valuable conversations and bonding with others at your workplace. You might even find that you’re not the only LGBT+ employee at your workplace, or inspire another LGBT+ employee who isn’t yet out. However, there are also downsides to coming out; namely, you could be subjected to discrimination or harassment. We won’t pretend there are any easy answers here, but we’re here to give you the facts and help you think through it.
As a first step, you may find it helpful to try and gauge how accepting your employer and workplace are. (There’s good advice and resources on how to do this under the “Finding An Employer” section.) If you make up your mind to come out, here are some resources aimed at helping you with that process:
- The Human Rights Campaign’s brief guide to coming out at work. As a note, it’s very geared towards people who do want to be out at work, which we know isn’t the right path for everybody. Do whatever’s best for your happiness and peace of mind!
- The Center for Gender Sanity’s pages for transgender employees: planning to transition at work and writing a coming out letter.
If you decide not to come out, you might have questions about how to protect your privacy at work. For example, for a transgender job seeker, can you put your chosen name on you resume, or does it have to be your legal name? (The answer is that since a resume isn’t a legal document, you can do whatever makes you most comfortable, like using your chosen name or using some combination of initials. Just make sure any references and previous employers the hiring company might contact will recognize whatever name they call you. However, your employer will need your legal name for things like background checks and taxes.) Or if you’ve previously had valuable work or volunteer experience at LGBT+ organizations, how can you include that on your resume to increase your marketability without outing yourself? (Consider using vaguer terms, such as “Campus diversity organization” instead of “Queer Student Union,” or re-organizing your resume so that it highlights what you’ve done instead of where you’ve done it.) We’d be happy to help you with any of these questions and tasks.
Being expected to “look professional” for an interview, career, internship, or presentation is a universal challenge. But it’s one that’s often even more of a challenge, and carries much higher stakes, for trans and gender-nonconforming people, who have to balance the need to look professional and be taken seriously with the need to present their gender in a way that feels comfortable and honest to them. If you want help with this, you’re welcome to schedule an appointment with Brooke Hunter, a career advisor here at CLBR who identifies as queer and would be happy to help you brainstorm or give outfit feedback. We also encourage you to reach out to trans and gender-nonconforming peer groups at Reed for support and ideas, or, as odd as this may sound as career advice, to check out Pinterest boards like these: (1) (2). In addition, here are a couple articles you may find helpful:
- Gender Neutral Interview and Business Clothing, an article by Alison Doyle, one of the career industry’s most highly-regarded experts.
- The Soft Butch’s Beginning Professional Wardrobe, by Qwear Fashion founder and trans rights activist Sonny Oram.
Knowing Your Rights And Legal Resources
In a perfect world, of course, you would never be harassed or discriminated against because of being LGBT+. However, our world isn’t perfect, and it’s an unfortunate reality that many LGBT+ individuals still face discrimination in the hiring process and at their jobs. On the federal level, employment protections for LGBT+ people are a bit of a gray area - see the American Bar’s page “Protection for LGBT Employees Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act” for details. The good news, though, is that employment discrimination against LGBT+ people in unequivocally illegal in Oregon. Both sexual orientation and gender identity (including being transgender and gender-nonconforming) are protected by the Oregon Equality Act. Specifically, an employer can’t fire you, refuse to hire you, pay or otherwise compensate you less, give you harsher terms of employment, or give you fewer privileges because you’re LGBT. For more information on your rights in Oregon, check out the following resources:
- The Oregon State Bar’s page on LGBT Rights in Oregon
- Lambda Legal’s downloadable Oregon Equality Act FAQs guide and their page on Oregon
- American Progress’s downloadable state-by-state examination of nondiscrimination policies (the section on Oregon starts on p. 67, which is p. 70 if you’re using a pdf reader)
And if you’re working out-of-state…
- Lambda Legal has an interactive map to explore your rights by state (clicking the second button above the map filters by workplace protections)
- American Progress’s downloadable state-by-state examination of nondiscrimination policies
- The Transgender Law Center offers a state-by-state legislation tracker map specific to trans rights
Finally, here are some organizations and resources that may be able to help you if you ever think your rights are violated:
- The National Center for Lesbian Rights website contains information about case precedents and current equality campaigns. In addition, they offer free legal help via phone or email. Trans-inclusive.
- Lambda Legal is a national nonprofit committed to the legal rights of LGBT people, and has a page on requesting free legal help through them.
- GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). They operate throughout New England, not Oregon, but they do offer free legal help via phone, email, or chat. (Note: remember time zones! They’re three hours ahead of Oregon.)
- Finally, although there are no workplace- or employment-specific resources available through their website, we would be remiss not to include the ACLU, one of the best-known civil rights groups in the country, and the leading bringer of LGBT cases and advocacy initiatives. In addition, you can report discrimination and request legal help through a confidential form on their website.
Here are some resources we’ve found that address specifically intersectional LGBT+ issues and foster intersectional LGBT+ communities. If you know of any others, let us know!
- Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (RAD) is a nonprofit organization whose stated purpose is “to establish and maintain a society of Deaf GLBT to encourage and promote the educational, economical, and social welfare; to foster fellowship; to defend our rights; and advance our interests as Deaf GLBT citizens concerning social justice; to build up an organization in which all worthy members may participate in the discussion of practical problems and solutions related to their social welfare.”
- The Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community (APIQWTC, pronounced “api-cutesy”) is a multi-generational organization of Asian & Pacific Islander queer women, with a mission statement to “provide opportunities for Asian & Pacific Islander queer women and transgender people to socialize, network, build community, engage in inter-generational organizing, and increase community visibility.”
- The Center for Black Equity is an institution whose mission is to promote a multinational network for LGBT+ people of African descent. They’re “dedicated to improving health and wellness opportunities, economic empowerment, and equal rights while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination.”
- Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement “is the only national organization that addresses, organizes, educates, and advocates for the issues most important to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and Latino communities.”
- A Queer Indigenous Guide to Putting Down Roots in Portland, by two-spirit Portlander AJ Earl.
Many opportunities require travel, sometimes internationally. While these opportunities can be incredibly exciting and eye-opening, they can also come with unique challenges for LGBT+ individuals. Here are some resources we’ve found that can help you navigate those challenges.
- The U.S. Department of State’s information page for LGBTI travelers. (Best read in conjunction with this article on how to use and interpret travel warnings.)
- “Know Before You Go” is a downloadable pdf form created by the TSA for transgender travelers. (Or, check out these two Equality Florida pages - 1 & 2 - that put it in context.)
- Also check out the TSA webpage for transgender passengers.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality’s web guide to flying while trans. It is far more detailed than the TSA’s resources, but, unfortunately, less authoritative.
- The organization Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Returned Peace Corps Volunteers shares honest stories from LGBT+ Peace Corps volunteers and discusses the challenges of being one. (You might also be interested in this video released by the Peace Corps for Pride Month.)
Organizations and Opportunities by Industry
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM):
- The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, Inc.
- Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
- Pride in STEM
- Out for Undergrad
Health & Medicine:
- OHSU Pride Employee Resource Group and OHSU Students for LGBTQ Health
- Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
- The PRIDE Veterinary Medical Association
- Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Issues in Counseling
Law & Government:
- International Lesbian & Gay Law Association
- Gays & Lesbians In Foreign Affairs Agencies
- The National LGBT Bar Association
- Department of Justice Pride
- Lambda Legal internships and fellowships
Business & Tech:
- The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
- The Association of Lesbians and Gay Men in Publishing
- Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
General Opportunities: Summits, Scholarships, Networking, and Volunteering!
- Reed has connections with the Pride Foundation Scholarships, a broad collection of scholarships that support LGBT+ students.
- The annual Trans Youth Leadership Summit
- Volunteer at Portland's Q Center
- Volunteer at Basic Rights Oregon
- Basic Rights Oregon’s Transgender Leadership Program
- Volunteer at ACLU of Oregon
- The Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center, in downtown Portland
- Out Professionals, “the nation’s leading LGBT networking association”
- Finally, we highly recommend the Office of National Fellowships’s fellowship search page to learn of even more opportunities- you can search for LGBTQ+-specific opportunities using the search bar on the left side of the page.
Unfortunately, Reed College has no on-campus LGBT+ Center at this time. Instead, institutional LGBT+ topics are handled by the Office for Inclusive Community and the Multicultural Resource Center. You may be interested in the Multicultural Resource Center’s Trans and Gender Nonconforming at Reed Student FAQ page (downloadable pdf). We do, however, have a wonderful student-organized Queer Student Union! In addition, the Portland Q Center, although it’s on the opposite end of town (about an hour away by bus and 25 minutes by car), is home to a vibrant community of LGBT+ Portlanders and offers local events and resources.
If you have any further questions or could benefit from some one-on-one career guidance from us, we’d love to meet with you. All the career advisors at CLBR identify as allies to the LGBT+ community, but if you’d rather meet with someone who’s more than just an ally, schedule with Brooke Hunter, a CLBR career advisor who identifies as queer. Call or click here to schedule an appointment with us, or come to express advising. We look forward to meeting you!