You_Are_on_Your_Own_Magnifying_Co-Cultu.pdf - CHAPTER 20...

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305 CHAPTER 20 “You Are on Your Own”: Magnifying Co-Cultural LGB/TQ Microaggressions in the Workplace KEY TERMS Sexual identity management Microaggressions Co-cultural theory LGB/TQ ABSTRACT Although organizations are becoming more attuned to the needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (transgender), and queer (LGB/TQ) employees, workplace policies and practices can still discriminate against someone based on their sexuality. In this chapter, we discuss how LGB/TQ-based microaggressions are communicated in the workplace as a form of sexuality-specific discrimination. We focus on exploring four of these mi- croaggressions (endorsement, heterosexism, exoticization, and denial) through the use of vignettes that describe composite accounts compiled from interviews with LGB/TQ working adults. Woven between each vignette are research-driven conversations em- phasizing the pervasiveness of heteronormativity in organizational life; the (in)visible na- ture of sexual identity; and the basics of co-cultural theory. Our goal is to shine a light on how these microaggressions communicatively cultivate sexuality-specific discrimination Tim McKenna-Buchanan & Sara Baker
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306 CONTEMPORARY STUDIES IN SEXUALITY & COMMUNICATION: Theory and Practice in the workplace. We hope that this chapter increases awareness regarding organizational policies and practices—or lack thereof—that ostracize LGB/ TQ employees. I wish I would have known that truly there are no real protections for you. You are on your own. There may be laws and policies in place, but you know what? When it comes down to it, they don’t count and you’re on your own as far as how… you can’t count on human resources and you can’t count on other people to stop the harassment. – Joe, a former airline employee Joe’s experiences at work left him feeling alone, on his own, and without the support from his organization and coworkers that he thought were in place. Whereas other social identities (e.g., sex, race, religion) are federal- ly protected through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC, 2013), sexual orientation and gender identity do not generally benefit from such protections. Al- though the EEOC has, since 2012, interpreted anti-trans discrimination under the protected category of sex, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGB/TQ) employment discrimination is still legal in 29 states based on sexual orientation and in 34 states based on gender identity (HRC, Re- sources-Workplace, 2013). In other words, someone can legally be fired or discriminated against in the workplace due to their sexuality. For example, Catholic high school teacher Carla Hale was fired from her job in Ohio after her employer received an anonymous letter outing her as a lesbian after Hale’s mother’s obituary appeared in the town paper mentioning her partner (Brydum, 2013). And the General Social Survey (2008) reported that 42% of LGB individuals (some who were out at work, some who were
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