Starting OUT

By Liz Massey, August 2015 Issue.

Today’s college students will enter a professional environment that is unprecedented in terms of protection and inclusion for LGBT employees.

Echo caught up with two Arizona State University students and asked them how their involvement in student/professional groups

was impacting their vocational aspirations.

Danika Worthington

 Worthington is the president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association - ASU Chapter (NLGJA-ASU), the first student chapter in U.S.

According to the NLGJA-ASU Facebook page (, NLGJA is “an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members, with this page specific to the ASU chapter.”

Echo: Tell us about your organization and how it prepares LGBT students for a successful career.

Danika Worthington. Photo by Dominic Valente.

Worthington: We’re a small group, and all of us are journalism majors. We talk about LGBT issues in the media and how they could be better addressed. We discuss how to come out at work, how to deal with homophobic co-workers, and why it is OK as an LGBT reporter or producer to cover LGBT topics.

Echo: Do you think it’s important for LGBT students to network with gay professionals? What can they learn from that experience?

Worthington: It’s important for several reasons, one of which being that it can lead to employment. Our chapter had mixers with the main NLGJA chapter in Arizona in the last year or two, and I know that one of our chapter leaders at the time landed a professional job from that. Another reason that talking to a current gay professional is important is because if someone has an issue, such as how their orientation or identity will be perceived, the perspective of someone who is already out in the field is going to have more weight (for a student), because they’ve been through this before.

Echo: What tips would you have for a student or new graduate in your profession related to being out at their first professional level job?

Worthington: A lot of advice in this area depends on the person and their situation, but you should be able to be comfortable with who you are at work. Being closeted is a miserable experience. Don’t shy away from water-cooler conversation. If you respect them, they’ll respect you. And be honest with your readers. Don’t be afraid to be out and to talk about the LGBT aspects of your life, particularly as you share your work on social media channels like Twitter.

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