Do Ask - Do Tell

By Hernandez, Debra Gersh | Editor & Publisher, June 22, 1996 | Go to article overview

Do Ask - Do Tell


Hernandez, Debra Gersh, Editor & Publisher


WHAT DO YOU think caused your heterosexuality? Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of? Isn't it possible that all you need is a good, gay lover? If those questions made you think, that's exactly what they are supposed to do.

And if they sound familiar, they should; they often are posed to gays and lesbians rather than to heterosexuals.

Those questions -- to which there are no answers, whether asked of a straight or gay person -- are part of a new seminar, "Sexual Orientation in the Workplace," from the National Lesbian and Gay journalists Association, that already is being used by a number of newspapers.

The original program was developed by Hollywood Supports, a group founded to fight bias in the entertainment industry, but as NLGJA president Lerovaarons explained, the basic elements are common to any workplace.

The seminar has been incorporated into Knight-Ridder's training programs, and is being seen by a number of associations and individual newspapers as well, Aarons said.

The first objective of the program is to help participants understand that homophobia is a workplace issue, NLGJA training coordinator Nancy Murrell told those at a pre-convention demonstration of the seminar prior to the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference.

Other objectives include increasing people's comfort level when talking about sexual orientation in the workplace and opening a discussion for increased awareness. The awareness issue affects not only coverage but also impacts on the workplace, Aarons said.

As Aarons and Murrell demonstrated at the seminar, the small audience was asked to challenge its assumptions about stereotyping of gay and lesbian journalists, and how a hostile environment can affect them and their careers.

The language of inclusiveness was discussed (for example, using the term "sexual orientation" instead of "sexual preference" ; as were benefits offered by a company that may or may not be required by state law; and other similar issues. …

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