2020 Diversity & Equity in Education Campaign
Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
“Today’s decisive [Supreme Court] ruling will help ensure that LGBTQ educators can fully participate in school life, free from fear, and help build school communities that encourage respect and support for all students and educators, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This will be an enormous building block for a better future.”
Recruiting Tip #7:
Respect the Whole Person
When interviewing any candidate for a job, it’s natural to want to start asking personal questions to break the ice or establish rapport. But this line of questioning can be inappropriate, if not downright illegal, especially when interviewing someone who may be LGBTQ. A recent piece offering guidance on hiring LGBTQ candidates provides a clear example about the importance of not making assumptions: don’t ask a male candidate wearing a wedding band about his wife, as it may turn out that he actually has a husband! Instead, allow the candidate to tell their full story, and volunteer personal information at their own discretion. If they disclose their gender identity or sexual orientation, ask general questions about how their background affected their path into teaching. In this way, you can give the applicant the opportunity to tell their full story and make the case for why they should work in your school, and what they have to offer, which may or may not involve their LGBTQ identity.
- “LGBTQ” is an acronym that includes people who identify as Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, or “Queer,” a broad term that has become more popular in use in recent years.
- LGBTQ teachers recently won major protection from the Supreme Court; teachers are now protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- Hiring more LGBTQ teachers can help create a safer school culture for both teachers and students.
Hiring (and Protecting) LGBTQ Teachers
2020 is shaping up to be a major year of both challenges, as well as transformational change. For teachers who identify as LGBTQ, 2020 also saw a major victory which affects classroom hiring and retention across the nation: The Supreme Court has ruled that no employer can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a big deal for teachers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, or Queer (LGBTQ), as well as the school administrators responsible for hiring teachers and adhering to employment protections.
As Education Week noted this past June, “before this decision, LGBTQ workers in more than half of the states had no legal protection against being fired, demoted, or paid less based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” This landmark decision was supported by the National Education Association, as well as American Federation of Teachers, the National School Boards Association, and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, in part because the data is clear that hiring teachers who identify as LGBTQ can make school safer for questioning or openly out students as well.
In a lengthy 2017 report published by GLSEN, it’s clear that youth who identify as LGBTQ often have a difficult time in school settings, but also states that “the presence of LGBTQ school personnel who are out or open at school about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity may provide another source of support for LGBTQ students. In addition, the number of out LGBTQ personnel may provide a sign of a more supportive and accepting school climate.”
Recruiters and interviewers looking to ensure that their hiring practices are compliant with the new law can turn to both educator specific and national resources that specialize in employment law. The Society for Human Resource Management offers several great resources and articles on the topic of hiring and managing LGBTQ workers, and schools and districts everywhere should take time to ensure their non-discrimination policies are up to date and in alignment with the new federal protections.
Ready to start connecting with talented applicants from diverse backgrounds? Stay tuned for more info about this fall’s Virtual Meet & Greet! With the challenges that the global pandemic has brought to our schools, teachers, and students, DIVERSITY in Ed’s solid track record of offering totally online, interactive recruitment events to match teacher candidates with schools is more important than ever before.