Most likely there has been a moment in our lives when inequality is experienced first hand. Whether it was triggered by gender, race, or any other infinite possibility, there was a time in our lives when society seemed to turn its back on us. In this reflection of social inequality I'll analyze a personal experience shared by a woman we'll call Susan, as well as my own personal encounter. By addressing the origins, stressors, and other processes involved with inequality, we can better understand the needed intervention and social actions that must be taken to reduce and even eliminate inequality in our society.
Susan, an openly gay woman, deals with social equality issues due to her lifestyle on a relatively frequent basis (Susan, personal communication, September 15, 2006). As a fresh college graduate of child education, Susan was ready to take the next step in her career as an elementary school teacher.
Unfortunately, her first attempt of employment at a private school was shot down by homophobic prejudice within the school's administration. Susan described how well she dressed, spoke, and maintained her composure throughout the interview. But when the examiner sensed that she was gay, the interview quickly concluded, and Susan was told the position had already been filled. Susan was crushed by the idea of being denied a job she was totally qualified for, simply because of her sexual orientation. Even though the approval of gays as elementary school teachers more than doubled over the last 30 years, a stigma still persists heavily in the private school sector (Arnold, 1999).
The social inequalities experienced by lesbian and gay teachers can be construed as the result of heterosexist laws that criminalize gay marriage, and the lack of anti-discriminatory legislation (Humphrey, 1999). Because the school subscribes to heterosexist beliefs, Susan was...