Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GUEST POST: "Responding to Modern Esquire on HB176"

By William G. Pierce

May I respond to Modernesquire? I understand he supports HB176 which he reports that “[i]t just says that schools and school boards cannot discriminate against students and employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Once again, he may be right in principle but far from the practice of burying discrimination. As before, I am going to work with the belief that Modernesquire is a business leader – and in particular the superintendent of a local school district. Along with the overriding accountability of establishing the educational philosophy which governs his school district, Modernesquire has the overall responsibility and will oversee the facilities, the budget, long term planning, and even hiring.

Many of the local suburban school districts in southwest Ohio will receive as many 100 times the number of resumes as they do teaching openings leading up to the new school year. Mason Local Schools have reported receiving as many as 800 responses to a single published position. Now I appreciate Modernesquire will not have the time to review the stack of received resumes with the exception of the final four as selected by the HR Department and the building principal, BUT I will guarantee he will be named as a defendant in any pending lawsuit generated on the premise the applicant was discriminated against.

We have all seen or read of discrimination lawsuits based on age, race, gender, weight, disability, and/or religion – all of which removes preciously scarce tax dollars out of the classroom and into the courtroom and do nothing for the children seeking to be educated. Given the fact that very few, if any, applicants are going to list his/her sexual orientation on their resume AND it would be against the law to raise the question during the interviewing process, how would Superintendent Modernesquire propose to protect the district from the potential lawsuits generated by a rejected and disgruntled applicant.

With all due respect to all of humanity, it is relatively easy to observe age, race, gender, weight, disability, and many times religion which operate within a myriad of federal guidelines to promote non-discrimination, but sexual orientation and gender identity are not observable human traits – nor should they be in the interviewing process. Furthermore, once hired they should remain as hidden human traits as the personal sexual preferences of educators should never be subject matter of the children entrusted to them for the purpose of educating them to read, write, and do arithmetic. The principle is as true for heterosexual instructors as it is for homosexual or transsexual educators – a violation by anyone should bring immediate removal from the classroom.

The scenario played out above would be equally true with any business and would require a similar diversion of critical funds for self preservation. It would be particularly devastating to a small business.

It is difficult for me to imagine anyone who would not be angry and disgruntled if they felt that they were discriminated against in the hiring process or while on the staff for any reason. It is equally difficult for me, as a former owner of a small business, to imagine Modernesquire not being angry after having put his heart and soul into the development of a business and then have to endure the burden of the court for a discrimination lawsuit over a human trait for which he had no idea existed.

I am afraid I must side with those who oppose HB176, but I do so simply because it places an unimaginable burden on an employer to avoid discrimination for a trait which should never be demonstrated during the hiring process or the career which may follow.