by YOUR HEAD FAG IN CHARGE
Like many twenty-somethings, I work a dull desk job with a seemingly never ending supply of annoying tasks. To unwind from the daily grind, I like to read various bits of news and useless information. Anyone who’s worked a dead end office job knows distraction is key. And unless you were fortunate enough to work in a more casual setting, you also know that your evil employers will block you from accessing certain websites. Most of the time this is reasonable. You can understand why they wouldn’t want you on Facebook all day or looking up porn. But imagine my shock when I tried to read a psychology article and was told the website was blocked for “gay or lesbian or bisexual interests.” Yes, you read that right, and no, you didn’t accidentally fall into a time machine to go back to 1958.
I’m not sure what’s more offensive – that my employers block “gay or lesbian or bisexual” interests or that such a category even exists within their protection software. Could you imagine a website being blocked because of “heterosexual interests”? No, of course not, because such a thing would never happen.
To be fair, my employers block numerous sites for many reasons, such as “entertainment”, “sports”, and “shopping”. It’s not a big deal that this particular website was blocked. I can read the article later. What’s troubling is that this is passive discrimination. We’ve undergone several sexual harassment and discrimination seminars. None of my coworkers would ever say anything about my sexuality to my face. Yet our technology is somehow behind the times… or maybe it was created in Alabama.
I’m not a sensitive person. I try to be politically correct to others but can easily laugh at myself. But seeing this in a professional setting, in such a formal manner was degrading. It wasn’t targeting me personally. Even if a straight coworker tried to access the website they’d get the same message, but that’s irrelevant. There are no excuses. Just because it’s not active discrimination doesn’t mean it’s not discrimination.
This got me thinking – how many gay people have to deal with similar little daily acts of discrimination? I live in a fairly liberal state, so I can only imagine what others deal with elsewhere. What are some instances when you’ve been unintentionally offended? And also, did you bring it to anyone’s attention or just keep quiet and deal with it? I genuinely want to know what others have experienced. Share your stories in the comments!
I encountered exactly the same issue at my college (UK). I got the same message about “gay or lesbian or bisexual interests” (we use websense too) when looking up a local support group for LGBT Youth. I was furious and send a carefully worded email to our head of IT systems (he’s a member of staff so I didn’t want to be rude). The response I got simply instructed me to try the site again outside of academic hours and it should work then. Okay fair enough, certain sites have restricted access during certain hours but why should a site be blocked because it is of interest to gays, lesbians or bisexuals?! I’m planning on following this up when I return to college next week as I’d like to see if they can find an example of a website blocked for ‘heterosexual interest’. Of course, there wouldn’t be one because straight people don’t need support groups to help them through the difficulties of coming out or being accepted because they’re straight! That’s basically a golden ticket to acceptance in society, why can’t we just be equal?
Glad to hear I’m not alone. That was exactly my point- that it’s too broad a category. Like you said, support groups and other informative sites should not be blocked, even at work or school. It’s just offensive. Please let us know how you make out! Very interested to hear where that goes.