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Argh! I am starting to prepare for the application process to graduate school. It feels like I just finished applying to grad school and here it goes again. This time, I will be applying for my terminal degree (Ph.D. or Ed.D.). It seems weird that my formal education is almost complete. Who would have ever thought that I would be getting ready to become a Doctor. Not my elementary and middle school teachers -- they thought I was a punk. I probably was. Since then I have matured.
Thus far, my Masters degree courses should support my application successfully. I hope that I will be able to keep up my GPA. I am looking forward to finally going to a major state research university. No more little college. Big is good. Life is looking good and I hope to hold on for the entire ride.
Although education can assist a gay person obtain a good career, we must all remember that discrimination is still a large part of gay life. Most of us have experienced harassment or discrimination in one way or another. As such, I make sure that I am constantly watching out for my best interests. At work, I have an incredibly supportive staff with which to work. However, I always make sure that I am doing better work then the next person. Call it CYA (cover your ass). Being careful is one thing that I do extremely successfully.
Case in point: During the end of the spring semester, I applied to become a Resident Advisor. For those of you who don't know, RA's are staff members who are responsibly for the oversight of one residence hall floor. This makes it the fifth time that I had applied for a position within Residence Services. As you can probably guess, the letter came and I was denied for the fifth time. My friend Jay was denied employment as well. We are both openly gay.
Upon receipt of the letter, I arranged to have a conference with Dolly, the coordinator of the selection process. In conference, I inquired as to why I keep getting denied employment when I have already been an RA for two years. The excuse given was that I was not deemed the "good fit" that the department was looking for in their staff. My question is, what is this "good fit"? White? Heterosexual? Christian? The next issue which was brought up was the fact that the Resident Directors did not view me as being able to cope with an "unruly" floor. As previously stated, I held my Resident Advisor job for two years and I had two references from residence life staff. However, Residence Services never contacted my references. How can they come to such a conclusion about my qualifications without checking on my references? Your guess is as good as mine! Sounds like a weak excuse.
There is a lot more to this discrimination story then is listed above. Much too much for this article. However, it all boils down to the fact that a qualified applicant with an earned degree and direct job experience is being passed over. They are hiring freshmen over me. Two weeks ago, I filed a formal grievance with Student Affairs. Thus far, the system seems to be working well and the grievance process is proceeding. Soon I should be called to testify at a hearing. Hopefully I will win.
Getting to the point of this column, I don't view this as a pity party. If I win, that's great. If I lose, that's fine. However, I feel that it is my obligation to pursue this matter. Discrimination must not be tolerated and I will not be treated as a second class citizen. As members of the "gay community," we must stand up for what is right. Fight for your rights! We are the only ones who are going to watch out for our well being. Staying in the "closet" and accepting discrimination will only make the problem worse in the long run. Fighting an institution can sometimes be hard but it makes the most important point in the world -- they will think twice about discriminating against another applicant. Win or lose, I have won! We will all win!
Peace and Pride,