Student debt is crushing dreams for this group

In addition, one-quarter of LGBTQ employees have faced discrimination in the workplace in the last five years, and 1 in 10 have left a job because of the environment, according to a 2017 workplace equality report by Out & Equal, a workplace advocacy group.

“If you have interrupted employment or are under-employed, it will just be that much more difficult to make loan payments or pay it off,” said Olin Winn-Ritzenberg, a youth education services coordinator at The LGBT Community Center in New York. “Your degree is not working for you in the same way as it’s working for other people, and then it’s compounded if you’re a person of color, have a disability or are an immigrant.”

Audrey, a member of the LGBTQ community who asked that her full name not be used to protect her employment status, said that it took her months after graduating to land a job. She’s a veteran who took out loans to get her MBA and change careers.

“The more debt you add on, the more you’re pinning your hopes on getting the job you want,” she said.

Today, she works at a Big Four consulting firm, but the job is not what she had hoped for both in terms of the work she’s doing and the amount of money she’s making. She’s glad to be paying down her debt, but said there are extra steps she’s had to take to get there.

Yet, there has been progress in society for LGBTQ individuals. Today, 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies have rules that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 82 percent include gender identity in those policies, according to Out & Equal.

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