HRC Blog

Volunteering for Workplace Equality in Pennsylvania

kenzie pennsylvania volunteer

Post submitted by Kenzie Thorp, campus volunteer with Americans for Workplace Opportunity in Pennsylvania

Like any college student, finding a job after graduation is one of my biggest priorities. Students in my generation are being released into
a highly competitive and and somewhat limited job market, creating an environment where we are taught to be constantly trying to get ahead by marketing ourselves. Yet, I have realized that sometimes having the professional qualifications is not enough to get
or keep a job. Sadly, even in this day and age, for some people being “marketable” conflicts with their identity. 

As a lesbian, this reality hits all too close to home. I am proud of who I am and I am not willing to remain in the closet for the sake
of a bigoted employer. However, living in Pennsylvania, I am constantly aware that my sexual orientation and gender expression could cost me a job one day.

The sheer injustice of this issue has inspired me to take action in my community. I am one of three co-heads of the Haverford College Sexuality and Gender Alliance. Haverford is a small liberal arts college in the suburbs of Philadelphia, so the environment is unsurprisingly progressive. This makes our mission of acceptance for all LGBTQ students on campus somewhat easy. However, we have recently
started to focus our efforts on the surrounding community.

When we approached students with Americans for Workplace Opportunity’s mission, we were shocked by the quantity of positive and passionate responses that we got. Within one day of tabling, we had filled out around 200 postcards, which were added to the over 4,000 cards to send to Senator Toomey, as well as several handwritten letters. Students from all different sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions, most of them allies, jumped at the opportunity to keep the fight for LGBTQ equality going strong. Even Haverford’s newly inaugurated President filled out a postcard to help the cause.

Workplace equality is a priority for many students. While some of us, including myself, are committed to pushing the movement forward, the current inequality in Pennsylvania could be costing us the retention of bright, passionate, and hardworking individuals. This is something that we simply cannot afford.

Many LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania have to make a choice between their identity and their livelihood. My hope is that when my peers and I enter the workforce, we will not have to worry about our opportunity costs, but instead will be able to focus on our opportunities.

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