Col. Diane Schroer (Ret.) Getting Her Day In The News
When one discusses what is really wrong with Diane Schroer not being hired by the Library of Congress back in 2005, one probably can’t get a more succinct summary of it than the number three story in Countdown With Keith Oberman‘s Bushed segment for August 20, 2008 (her’s is the third story told in the video):
For a more succinct description of how bias motivated not hiring Diane Schroer really is, one probably can’t get a more succinct description of it than you can at the ACLU‘s blog:
On the stand, [Library of Congress Charlotte] Preece [who made the hiring, and then non-hiring decision] said she felt “set up.” But the only thing Preece was “set up” to do was to make a decision on the merits. Ms. Schroer did not inject gender identity into the hiring process, keeping it focused on background and ability. But once the decision on the merits had been made, she moved immediately to tell Preece, and give her the time and information she needed to stay focused on ability and make the hire work.
That isn’t what happened. On the stand, Charlotte Preece was a vivid reminder that, so very often, the face of wrongdoing turns out to be not evil but ignorance. Under a classic surgical cross-examination by James Esseks, Litigation Director at the ACLU’s LGBT Project, Preece basically confirmed Ms. Schroer’s story. Schroer had the best qualifications and performed best in the interview. Schroer was the best person for the job. Schroer had the job; had it, that is, until she told Preece she was transgender.
Preece confirms she was bewildered when Schroer told her he was becoming Diane. “Why would you want to do that?” she asked.
[Below the fold: More about what Preese said in court, and more links to press coverage.]
It is not so hard to understand Preece’s surprise that this classic “man’s man” turned out to be a woman. Preece had never met anyone transgender before. But it’s at this point that ignorance turns to wrongdoing. Preece says she worried that Diane wouldn’t get a security clearance, that she’d lose her contacts in the military, that she’d have no credibility working on terrorism for the Library.
She may have felt that. But instead of trying to find out if her worries were justified, she simply gave into them. There’s a legal issue here. The government is not supposed to simply capitulate in the face of prejudice, imagined or real. But the more interesting issue is the human failure. Preece didn’t ask Schroer’s references-almost all of them military and Special Forces veterans-if they’d still respect Schroer as Diane. And it turned out, many of them already knew. Knew and considered Diane, not Dave, at the “top of the list” when it came to counter-terrorism.
Preece didn’t find out if transitioning by itself created a problem with security clearances. It turns out that it doesn’t, and in fact Diane’s clearance-the highest-has been renewed.
The way Preece assumed what seemed to be her own reaction-loss of respect-on to the military and veterans was almost comic. It turns out that after the job was taken away, Diane created her own consulting business. She did it with the help of, and she is now working with, the very people Preece assumed wouldn’t respect her.
And that-Charlotte Preece’s reaction to the news of Diane Schroer’s transition-is the heart of the case. Is it okay, today, for an employer to refuse to hire somebody who can do the job, and do it well, because the employer doesn’t respect something about their identity that has nothing to do with the job?
My recommendation: Have a read at the entire ACLU blog entry…it’s well worth the read.
I’ll leave you with a quote from an American Bar Association article:
Professor Arthur Leonard of New York Law School told the National Law Journal that the Title VII question is an emerging issue. The question is “whether people whose gender identity differs from the norm would be protected by the law’s provisions against sex discrimination.”
H/t: Chris at the ACLU.
* Col. Diane Schroer (Ret.) Getting Her Day In Court
* Pam’s House Blend tag: Diane Schroer