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Freedom to One, Freedom to All

No place in workplace for discrimination


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Kudos to the University of Alaska Board of Regents who changed its non-discrimination policy in mid-February to include sexual orientation, despite the fact they are not required to under Alaska Human Rights Law AS 18.80, which states protected classes are those based on religion, sex, race, color, age, national origin, disabilities, parenthood, pregnancy, marital status and change in marital status.

Many will disagree with me, but I say the UA system is ahead of the game and moving in the right direction.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream.” Of course, I had read it before, heard it before, but this time it made more of an impact. I was in a classroom setting working on my MBA at a private religious-based university, when a gentleman in my class openly said he personally discriminates against gays in the workplace – this, moments after we talked about the importance of the freedom King’s speech challenged us all to achieve.

I raised my hand and asked, “But what about what King taught us? Isn’t discrimination against gays today no different than discriminating against blacks when Martin Luther King preached tolerance for everyone, freedom for everyone?”

Some will disagree. Some will say  Biblically, gays are sinners and should not be given “special” freedoms. But in my opinion, freedom is freedom, for one and for all, and what our country is based upon. And in my opinion, we all are sinners, and should judge not lest we be judged.

God didn’t make us clones of him, he didn’t take away our brains, he doesn’t want us to be puppets. He wants us to think for ourselves, make our own mistakes, find our own way to him, through good times and bad, through living, loving and learning. Love toward others being most important of all.

I am lucky to work for an organization that does not discriminate. We have had gays work for us, people of many different ethnic groups, we currently have more women than men on staff and other times the opposite, and the majority of us are middle-aged. Some are raising children, some single, some married. We’ve had people with disabilities, and I’m sure sometime in the history of the organization, someone got pregnant.

What a pleasure it is to know management has a tolerance policy toward everyone, and a no-tolerance policy against those who show hatred and act cruelly to anyone different.

I say the University of Alaska took one brave step forward in a world that hates. But so do we. And I’m not ashamed to stand up proudly and say so. Remember to love. Remember tolerance. The world would be much better off indeed.

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