Applying to college or getting your first job is a right of passage for most youth and young adults. LGBTQIA youth and young adults (and their families) have extra things to consider when making these big decisions. Below are some considerations, while this is not an exhaustive list, I hope you will find some helpful resources.
College Bound Youth
Considering what colleges to apply to and ultimately where you attend is a big decision, but factoring in which college is LGBTQIA inclusive, and has protection policies for LGBTQIA students could be the difference between success or failure for some youth. The Campus Pride Index, (www.campusprideindex.org), is a great starting place in sorting out which colleges could be a good match. Information regarding inclusivity, financial assistance options, and how to find LGBTQIA inclusive college fairs are among the information provided.
Other questions and things to consider during your college search:
- Is housing provided based on identified gender, or is there an option for non-gender based housing
- Are gender neutral restroom available, if needed
- How does the school handle students wanting to use their preferred name
- Are there LGBTQIA inclusive heath care options available
- Are there clubs and organizations that are welcoming, and accepting
- What are the campus safety efforts, is there crime data available
- What mental health services are offered to students
- How will I pay for or finance college, the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) has a LGBTQIA scholarship database: Here
College and University Staff operate under FERPA, Family Education Rights Privacy Act. FERPA protects your privacy. If you decide to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity to a school staff, they cannot share that information unless:
- The student or parent (for individuals under 18) has signed a release of information; for the purpose of post-secondary education students under 18 are not required to have information released to their parents once they have begun attending classes
- A health or safety emergency, disclosure is needed to protect the health or safety of the student or another individual
- A court order or subpoena
As Always, check with your school regarding your specific situation and to discuss how they implement FERPA policies.
Entering the Workforce
Whether you are seeking your first job, entering your chosen career, or searching for a new job or career path considering an employers inclusion policies and procedures is critical. There are currently no widespread employment protections for LGBTQIA individuals in the United States. Missouri does not include Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in its non-discrimination policy, which can be found here: Missouri Labor (mo.gov) Federally, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has ruled that Sexual orientation and gender identity fall under the umbrella of sex discrimination laws, meaning you are able to file a complaint with the EEOC for gender identity or sexual orientation based discrimination.
Starting the job search off by seeking out companies and corporations that are LGBTQIA inclusive can be a good way to go. A great starting point to understanding laws, and non-discrimination policies, is the Gen EQ guide put out by the Human Rights Campaign, click here for PDF.