Imagine showing up to a job interview for a job you are 100% qualified for, dressed to the nines, and the first thing you are asked to do is run a marathon.
“What?” you say, before protesting that you have it on good authority that this company had five open positions and even after a lengthy recruiting process, only found three qualified candidates.
But the interviewer is adamant. It doesn’t matter how desperate the company is at this point, policy is policy.
You ask, just to be sure, how being able to run a marathon is relevant to the position and are told, “it’s not relevant, it’s policy.”
Here’s the question: do you run the marathon?
If you want to know the experience of being a marginalized person, then imagine that not only are you asked to run a marathon before every job interview but that every single time, you are the only one who gets asked.
It saddens me to announce that this is going to be the last Why Not Today? column. I have made the decision to drop out of the law enforcement program and pursue a different path. What that path will be I do not know at this point.
There was of course a reason for this decision.
I recently found myself sitting through a pre-skills meeting for the Law Enforcement Program. The skills component of course being a requirement before one can graduate from the Law Enforcement program. As I sat there listening to how desperate law enforcement agencies are right now for qualified applicants, I found myself reflecting on how many instances of anti-gay discrimination I had endured up to that point since I had enrolled at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
I thus found myself asking the question of why I should continue to risk enduring such discrimination to enter a profession that claimed to be desperate for applicants yet could not stop engaging in anti-queer bigotry. How deeply embedded must that bigotry be within law enforcement that even in its (supposedly) most desperate hour, it couldn’t stop being homophobic and transphobic?
While I was still seeking admission to the law enforcement program, I ended up being the target of anti-gay harassment by a sociology professor. When I filed a complaint with the Title IX office, the complaint went ignored. No hearing was ever held and to my knowledge, no investigation was ever completed by the Title IX office.
At the same time as MSU was ignoring the harassment I had been the target of, I had been volunteering with the Mankato Department of Public Safety Department (MDPS) with their Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS) program. When I applied to be a reserve officer with the MDPS, I found myself the victim of what I still believe to have been discrimination. When I attempted to have the issue of discrimination addressed, MDPS simply ignored me.
After enduring that, I decided to continue anyways with applying for admission to the Law Enforcement Program only to find myself (again) being discriminated against. This time, the discrimination took the form of being forced to answer several completely inappropriate questions about my gender identity and sexual orientation.
Once again, any attempts on my part to address the issue were dismissed and ignored. After it had been rendered perfectly clear to me that I had no meaningful protection against anti-gay discrimination and harassment, I found myself forced to out myself to a person responsible for deciding which academic program I could enter.
After all of that, because I really must be a glutton for punishment, I decided that I would continue with applying to the program anyways and was successful.
The final blow came when I found myself the target of a violent anti-queer hate crime. I reported it to the MDPS only for every lead and tip I handed them on a silver platter to just be (you guessed it) ignored and dismissed.
When I got a death threat in my campus email that said I should be beaten to an inch of my life, hanged, and gutted like an animal, I laughed at how over the top it was. Death threats don’t phase me (the email wasn’t the first time I had been threatened for being queer) but having to endure a system that will not lift a single finger to address anti-queer bigotry is not in my skill set.
There are only so many times that it can be made explicit to me that I have no meaningful protection from being a victim of homophobia and transphobia.
This is a marathon I will not run.
Write to Jeremy Redlien at firstname.lastname@example.org