Should you out yourself on your resume?

Julie Shenkman
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The law forbids discrimination on the basis of race, age and sex no matter where you are, but sexual orientation is another matter. As of now, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books banning discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation; 13 of those states and the District also outlaw employment discrimination based on gender identity or expression.
Most of these states are in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast, but two clusters of states - one in the upper Central Plains (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin) and one in the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado and New Mexico) - also have enacted such laws.
If you're a resident of one of the other 29 states -- your blogger, a Pennsylvanian, is one such person -- you may not be completely out of luck, for several hundred counties and cities have also enacted local ordinances protecting lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and (in some cases) transgendered individuals from discrimination in the workplace. For instance, in Pennsylvania, both of the state's largest counties (Philadelphia and Allegheny) and cities (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) have such ordinances on their books, as do a number of other counties, cities, boroughs and townships in the state. You should check with your county court house or municipal government to see whether such laws exist where you live.
And if you work for the Federal government, provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 have been interpreted to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Even if you are fortunate enough to live or work in any of these situations, the question of coming out on your resume remains a live one.
Some argue that indicating your orientation in some fashion on your resume will give you a leg up with employers that seek diverse workforces. It would also act as an effective screen for homophobic employers -- which is one reason why others argue that you should downplay anything that might lead an employer to conclude that you are an LGBT individual. In today's environment, where job seekers still way outnumber available jobs, doing something that might automatically shut you out of some of those jobs should be carefully weighed first.
My take on the subject is this: If the thing that outs you on your resume also fits in well with your career goals and capabilities, you should include it if you live in an area where antidiscrimination laws exist. If you don't, you probably shouldn't.
Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts and opinions here.
Then go to, where you'll find plenty of jobs from employers who value diversity.
By Sandy Smith
Sandy Smith is an award-winning writer and editor who has spent most of his career in public relations and corporate communications. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia CityPaper, PGN, and a number of Web sites. Philly-area residents may also recognize him as "MarketStEl" of discussion-board fame. He has been a part of the great reserve army of freelance writers since January 2009 and is actively seeking opportunities wherever they may lie.

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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks, Sandy, for sharing this important information. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong, and there are new efforts underway to protect the rights of people in every state.
  • Tori
    Great post!
  • Lyddy
    I'm impressed!
  • Ricky
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