Jobseekers applying for a position at Colorado College, a private college in Colorado Springs, are being asked to choose one of the following options for a question regarding gender identity: not disclosed, male, female, transgender and queer.
According to the Daily Mail, 66-year-old John Kichi, a gay man from Pennsylvania, said he found the listing at the college very offensive and filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office about the question.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kichi told The Denver Post. “I thought I was going to have a stroke. It’s totally from the Dark Ages.”
Kichi has lost homes and fired from jobs because of his sexual orientation, and he finds it highly insulting when someone uses the word “queer.”
“If them including it on applications isn’t against the law, it should be,” Kichi told the newspaper, sending a complaint to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
One student, Quinn Webb, told CBS4: “I’m a little skeptical of what that could present to potential employees.”
However, school officials say using the word “queer” on job applications is meant to recognize Colorado College’s diversity. Human rights activists say the meaning of the term has changed over time.
“It’s true that for many years lots of people were called ‘queer’ and it was a derogatory term and they find it offensive,” Rex Fuller, of Denver’s LGBT Community Center, told CBS4, “but there’s definitely a younger generation that is trying to reform the term and give it new meaning.”
“It’s important to look at context when the term is being used,” he continued. “If somebody is screaming it at you on the street ... they mean to offend you and that’s probably not a good thing.”
“But if someone is using it to identify themselves because that’s what they feel good about, then we support that.”
“I’m proud to work for a school that doesn’t just talk the talk, we walk it, too,” said Barbara Wilson, the college’s director of human resources, told The Denver Post. “In the midst of the volume of conservatism in this city, we’re almost a safe haven.”