Monday of this week was National Coming Out Day. Events around the country on that day and all week commemorate a person’s decision to “come out” as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as a straight ally for the rights of GLBT individuals.
California is one of 12 states plus D.C. that protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender. In other words, whether or not you come out at work, your employer cannot discriminate against you by firing you, passing you over for a promotion or other negative action because of your sexual orientation.
An article published in The Washington Post on Monday looks at the complex decision of whether to come out at work and how. The article says that three-quarters of gays are out with siblings and two-thirds out with parents, but only half are out with their boss, though 62 percent are open with their colleagues about their sexual orientation.
The article says that if you feel comfortable being open about your sexual orientation in your workplace and you have a supportive work environment, it can actually lead to being better at your job. The Post points out through its interviews with successful and openly gay professionals that being open about your sexual orientation can lead to more authenticity in your leadership at work and in your interactions with colleagues.
Especially if you are not in California, the Post recommends checking with the policies of your office to make sure that there are protections against sexual orientation discrimination before you decide whether or not to come out. It is also helpful to have a network of lesbian and gay staffers and a straight ally to help you. You can also read more tips at the Human Rights Campaign’s website.
- Working: ‘Coming out’ at the office (The Washington Post)