Facebook freedom and job protection for all

BTL Staff
By | 2010-02-10T09:00:00-04:00 February 10th, 2010|Uncategorized|

This is the Facebook age. And because Facebook is used by just about everyone in just about any place, we deal with new privacy problems. Due to Facebook’s public nature, LGBTs may be unwittingly outed on the job, although their sexuality should only be the business of whomever they would like to disclose it to. Other LGBTs choose to stay “in the closet” on the social networking site, adapting a sort of fake identity. While this is an alternative to the risk of being out on Facebook, it’s not the solution: Ideally, being out on Facebook shouldn’t be a risk at all. You should be free to disclose an important part of your identity in an online profile. But the lack of state and federal protections to LGBT employees means that a photo, status update, or relationship proclamation can mean the loss of livelihood.
Because of Facebook, our culture is shifting toward a more public sense of self. Very little is private anymore. An increasingly open and public culture, one that feels not much need for privacy, should also be one that respects that people are anything but homogenous. Gone are the days when we assume everyone is white, middle-class, Christian and straight. It’s now taboo to be racist or sexist in public, partly because there are now laws that recognize race and gender as protected classes.
Now is the time to make being homophobic in public a taboo, too, and one thing that will help us get there is some laws to back us up.
This means our legislators – on the state and national level – need to wake up and realize that not only do gay people exist, but they also have jobs and leadership positions, and they need to be recognized and protected.
Some laws have been proposed. On the state level, legislators have tried to amend the Eliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual and gender identity for more than ten years. On the national level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would include sexual and gender identity along with gender, religion and race as protected classes, has been shuffled around committees in Congress since 1994. The fact that these laws have been proposed is promising, but the lack of action on them shows just how far we have to go.
LGBTs must be protected from unfair treatment, harassment and firing on the job. It is perfectly ridiculous, shocking and disheartening that someone has to hide his true self on his Facebook page. While we don’t all necessarily disclose everything on Facebook, no one should be afraid that disclosing a relationship status will put one’s paycheck at risk.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.