Generation Z is tossing their caps, graduating from school and on their way to drastically bringing more diversity to the workforce. This generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse yet, with almost half identifying as exclusively homosexual and will soon become one of the most highly educated. According to Pew Research Center, 59 percent of post-millenials pursued college in 2017, a 15 percent difference compared to the 44 percent of Generation Xers that attended college in 1986.
This generation is not afraid to show their confidence, tech savvy and passion for diversity, while employers are getting ready for a whole new era of workers. As these empowered students finish up their degrees and diplomas, some are speaking out about their passion for inclusion and going viral for it. In New York City, a high school valedictorian used his graduation speech to announce that he is a “proud bisexual man.”
Mason Bleu, 17, told CBS This Morning that “coming out” is the scariest thing he has ever done, but he is happy he can be honest about his sexuality.
“As I was writing my speech, I was writing about being proud of who you were, proud of what you’ve achieved in high school or just any accomplishments you wanted to be proud of,” Bleu said. “And then I got to the end and I realized there’s something that I should be proud of that I’m hiding from everyone.”
A few states over, a Wisconsin high school valedictorian had planned to reveal he was gay in a commencement address, but after school administrators read the draft by Nat Werth, 18, they promoptly cancelled his speech, according to BuzzFeed News.
“I told them I’d be willing to take it out, but they didn’t trust me, because that’s when they found out I was gay,” Werth said. “And because they knew that I was gay, they chose not to let me give the speech.”
Pop singer, Jennifer Lopez said after meeting Werth during her Milwaukee concert tour stop, that she was “always standing with” him. She further encouraged him to “continue to use [his] voice and spread only love and acceptance.”
He was finally able to deliver his planned speech and honored with an award at the PrideFest Milwaukee.
According to Inc., Generation Z is the future of the workforce, with 77 percent stating that the diversity of a company affects their decision to work there. As students are graduating from high school and college, we need to ensure that they are entering workplaces that pride themselves on diversity and include the necessary training tools for corporate success. In 26 states, it is not directly prohibited to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
These students are not alone in their fight for equality. As we continue to strive for diversity and inclusion for all, the National Diversity Council will continue to work as an advocate through college-readiness programs for youth, educational seminars and promoting acceptance for all.
About the Author
Autumn Rendall is a print journalism major at the University of Houston and a 2019 National Diversity Council I.M.P.A.C.T communications intern. Her favorite things in life are vinyl records, a good TV show, friends, family and coffee (not necessarily in that order).
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