an unreasonable tattoo policy, I went to a college run by a religion I no longer follow, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. My new job didn’t tell me their no-visible-tattoos policy until after I was hired

I am an early childhood professional who works directly with young children and their families. I have over a decade of experience and am wrapping up a masters degree in my field. I also have multiple large tattoos on my forearms, which extend to my wrists (all of them are of plants, nothing offensive or scary), and two nose rings. This has not been a problem anywhere I’ve worked in the past, with the exception of one organization that requested I switch from hoops to studs to minimize children trying to grab them, which I happily obliged.

Recently, after a lengthy process that involved a video interview and an in-person meeting, I accepted a position with a new organization that I was very excited to work with, leaving the center I’d worked for the last five years. On my first day, I was given a large book of policies to review, including a dress code/appearance policy. The HR director had reviewed this with me during our in-person meeting before I accepted the position, going over almost all of the points listed except one: Employees may not have visible tattoos or facial piercings.

I immediately checked in with the HR director about this policy, reminding her (politely) what I look like and asking how firm this policy was. I was told that it was very firm, I would be expected to remove my nose rings despite them being covered by a mask, and I would need to wear long sleeves or wrap my arms with cloth bandages at all times to ensure that children could not see my tattoos.

Hand-washing is a nearly constant activity in the early childhood environment, for obvious reasons, and our standards require that we thoroughly wash our hands up to and covering our wrists. When I asked how I should handle hand-washing, I was told that if I wore the bandages, I could change them if they got wet. When I asked why this was not mentioned to me during the interview process, it was mostly shrugged off, with one of the other supervisors who was present saying that she didn’t notice my tattoos before.

The HR director informed me this policy was enacted several years ago at the wishes of parents, who were concerned that some teachers had gang-related tattoos and school should be a safe space, free from gang associations. From the way she said this to me, I think it was intended to make me feel better, but it did not.

I’m surprised to be encountering this issue in the year 2022, especially in the midst of a major staffing crisis in my field. I know they are within their rights to have and enforce this policy. I guess I am mostly wondering if the hiring team handled this appropriately. Should I make it a habit to ask up-front if my tattoos and piercings are a problem? I have always avoided doing this, as I’d prefer to focus on my skills and experience rather than my appearance, but I don’t want to go through this again.

No, they most definitely did not handle it appropriately! You had an in-person interview, they presumably saw your tattoos, and they should have mentioned the policy before you accepted their offer. Of course it’s possible that they didn’t notice them or register them … but even giving her the benefit of the doubt on that, I’m not thrilled by what sounds like the HR director’s blasé manner of discussing this with you. Had I accidentally hired someone without informing them of a policy that was going to be a massive pain in the ass for them, I’d be apologizing and asking if the job would still work for them, not dismissively telling them to wear bandages that they’d have to change multiple times a day.

Also, if the concern is gang-related tattoos (which is an odd concern in the first place?), this is an awfully overreaching policy to respond to that.

But yes, because your tattoos are prominent I would ask about it up-front when accepting an offer from now on: “You might have noticed I have visible piercings and tattoos. Is there any dress code I should know about where those are concerned?” It should be a non-issue at most places, but the inconvenience if it’s not will be high enough that it’s worth finding out for sure ahead of time.

Read an update to this letter

2. I went to a school run by a religion I no longer follow

I’m updating my resume and have a small predicament. I went to Brigham Young University for my bachelors. The problem now is, 15 years on I no longer align with much of what BYU/the Mormon Church represents. I’m marginally Mormon (mostly culturally, socially, and dietarily) and don’t roll that information out early in getting to know people because the Church seems intent on making headlines for some things I really don’t agree with. I live in a very liberal West Coast city and work in a liberal field. I’m certain that the rest of my resume, the interactions I have with others, and references from my colleagues speak highly of me, but this one sticking point is, well, stuck. How on earth do I deal with this on my resume? I can’t just leave off where I went to school — that feels like it would raise more questions. I can’t include a note that says, “but, ya know, I’m not like that.” For now I’m just including it and hoping that folks reading my resume get to the education section at the bottom and just verify that I have a relevant degree and give it no further thought. Is there a better approach?

For the Mormons/ex-mos out there, don’t worry, my resume includes no other references to church or volunteer areas within. (Oh, and because someone is going to bring this up: I prefer the term “Mormon” vs “Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Let’s not argue, you do you.)

It probably won’t be a huge issue. BYU has a good academic reputation — not in every program but in most of them, and it’s definitely not like having Liberty University on your resume. And it’s pretty commonly understood that not all BYU graduates support the positions of the church forevermore.

That said, the school does have well-known anti-gay policies, and that could raise concerns for someone who doesn’t know you. There’s not a ton you can do about it at the resume stage, unless you happen to be involved in work that makes it clear those aren’t your viewpoints (so if you happened to be involved in LGBTQ or ally work in any capacity, I’d definitely include it, even if you aren’t otherwise one to list community service and volunteer stuff).

3. Asking to work from home while recovering from transition-related surgery

Wanted to pose this question to you to see if this is wildly out of expectation for a typical workplace or if it’s a reasonable thing to plan to request. I’m a nonbinary individual planning on having top surgery in late fall of this year, so I’m trying to plan ahead. We get the whole week of Thanksgiving off, so I’d like to schedule my surgery for the week before that to give myself ample time to recover and rest before returning to the office. However, we only get five days of vacation leave, five days of state personal leave, and seven days of sick leave (but this accrues throughout the year, so I may not have access to any hours at that time) and I’d really not want to use all five days of the first two in case I need them later on in the year. (They reset in July). I also can’t do FMLA, because I really do need the money after being told that I can’t get a raise this year.

Would it be a reasonable request to only take two or three days of actual paid leave and then see if I can work with our ADA coordinator to do work-from-home the other days of that week before the break so that I can still get paid? We provide WFH accommodations, at times, for employees who are injured or who have Covid, so I know it’s something that we do. But I’m not sure if they’ll see it as reasonable in regards to trans-related surgery, or if that needs to even factor into it at all and I can just say “surgery” and get the medical certification paperwork signed by the surgery center. I don’t anticipate being totally laid out by the surgery for more than a few days, just not up for commuting to the office which is a typical 45-min-to-an-hour drive both ways.

It’s not unreasonable at all! Ask! And with any kind of surgery, you only need to say “surgery” and don’t need to share more details than that. Sometimes the person you’re talking to will ask a bit more, but often that’s more about expressing concern for your well-being than it is about truly pressing for details (which they’re not entitled to) and you can respond with something like, “Nothing to worry about, but something I need to have taken care of.”

4. Should I apologize for not confirming an interview time and causing my interviewer to reschedule?

I recently heard back from a job I applied to. The HR rep sent me an email asking for my availability, I replied with some dates and times, and she wrote back saying, “I have us scheduled for a Zoom interview on X date and time.” I didn’t reply, thinking that was the end of the conversation.

Ten minutes before the interview time, she sent me another email saying she had scheduled us for the next available date and time. I realized that by not replying to her, I had put her in an awkward position. I assume she rescheduled because she was uncertain I had received the email and thought I might not show up! I immediately replied to confirm the new interview time, but didn’t mention the original one at all (she didn’t either).

Obviously I screwed up here and was accidentally rude to my interviewer. How should I address it? Should I just pretend nothing happened? Apologize for “missing” the initial email, even though I saw it and simply misjudged whether to reply? Come clean somehow? Or something else?

You definitely should have replied to confirm, but she jumped the gun in just rescheduling you rather than asking you to confirm. I don’t think you really need to address it, but if you want to you could. The best way to do it would have been in the same email where you were confirming the new date (something like, “I hadn’t realized I hadn’t confirmed the earlier time you’d proposed — I apologize for that and appreciate you offering the new time”). Assuming it’s too late for that now, you could say something like that at the start of the Zoom call if you want to. And then just be scrupulously responsive to all communications from her going forward.

{ 775 comments… read them below }

  1. Raven*

    LW#2, maybe you could post a few left-leaning articles/memes/etc. on your public-facing social media, if you have any.

    1. Jolene*

      I went to a notoriously conservative (prestigious, well-known) undergrad. And ended up being a big ol’ (very obvious) gay.
      I used to feel compelled to blurt out some excuse or joke or whatever, to explain how on earth this happened – bc I assumed everyone was judging me for the name on my resume.
      But, then I realized, no one really seemed to care, and my excuses were met with confused looks.
      Colleges are picked at age 17.
      Compared to the other choices I made at age 17-22, this one was pretty solid!
      And everyone (hopefully!) is pretty different as an adult v when age 17.

      1. Renata Ricotta*

        And, is heavily influenced by one’s family of origin! This shouldn’t be too tricky this many years removed.

        1. DEJ*

          And also worth mentioning that BYU is considerably cheaper than a lot of other colleges which has to be a consideration as well.

          1. Anonymous Luddite*

            Currently 3k to 6k a semester for undergraduate.
            3k if you are of the faith; 6k if you’re not.
            Compared to 8k/semester for the University of Utah – the other major university in the state.

              1. Nynaeve*

                Yeah, if you can put up with the BS, you can get a very good education there in many fields. I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at seeing BYU on a resume, except maybe to admire the person’s fortitude at putting up with said BS (whether they are of the faith or not, its still A LOT) long enough to graduate.

            1. BubbleTea*

              It costs more if you’re not Mormon? That’s wild to me, from the land of the all-courses-the-same-price universities. Is that legal because it’s a faith-based private organisation?

              1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

                Yup, it’s a random, arbitrary deciding factor which, from my perspective is in the same category as in-state vs out of state tuition.

              2. TeaCoziesRUs*

                Every Catholic K-12 school I’ve researched (in multiple statesscattered throughout the country) gives a discount to active parishioners. The biggest question becomes whether the military chapel is considered part of the diocese. (Military chapel tithes go to the base chapel community, rather than the diocese that the base or post is surrounded by. Some dioceses don’t consider base chapels worthy of the active parishioner discount, others do.)

              3. Another ADDer*

                It’s just like state universities charging out of state students more. If you’re not Mormon, you’re a non-resident, for BYU purposes. Mormons get the resident discount. All that’s different is that the residence that counts is in the religion, not the state.

        2. Nethwen*

          Right? It wasn’t until I started reading this site that I realized people cared so much about where others went to college. Where I grew up, there was never a discussion on college academics other than a vague idea that accredited schools had more up-to-date academics. The prevailing understanding was that all colleges/universities offer equivalent academics, so when choosing a college, you picked from the ones your parents approved (generally, those that were more conservative than your family beliefs) and then chose the one that gave the best financial aid. I know multiple people who went to Liberty, including for masters programs, because that’s where they got the best financial aid and they have no idea that others think they got a lesser academic education.

          1. Rainy*

            I grew up in a religious cult and when I was making university plans, a deacon once asked me what I was planning to major in (he was surprised by the answer), and then asked “How much of that can you get at [cult college]?”

            I was legitimately shocked, because while I ended up getting my degrees in a totally different field, my high school plans were to enter a technical profession that required a state licensing exam, and [cult college] couldn’t offer anything to anyone who wasn’t training to be a minister (Theology + Religious Studies) or a minister’s wife (Home Ec + Religious Studies); it was unaccredited. (All degrees at [cult college] were joint with Religious Studies.)

            Most of my agemates in the cult had no idea that they were barely getting an education if they went to the cult day/boarding school or the cult college. The college was rejected for accreditation by a regional body many times over four-plus decades, citing a laundry list of logistical, educational, administrative, and student-affairs related shortcomings, and ultimately only accredited at a different campus under different leadership a few years before it shuttered.

          2. Llama Llama*

            Fascinating. This has to be a big regional difference. I didn’t know until like two years ago that these kind of Christian universities with dubious academics existed. The only religious schools I knew about were varieties of Catholic schools. And the different levels of academic rigor was really drilled into me. So hello from the North East.

              1. Cranky lady*

                LOL…One of my parents repeatedly led the accreditation team for the Catholic college where they taught. I know way too much about college accreditations because it was dinner conversation for 18 months, every 10 years.

              2. wittyrepartee*

                I’m an agnostic and did my first two years at a big public school and my second two years of college at a small Catholic school (Jesuit). The Jesuit University had amazing academics.

          3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            I get that to some extent, but surely teachers and guidance counselors would recommend better schools to those they felt could get in or get good scholarships? I can see the students (who probably just know what their parents tell them) and parents (who may have gone to religious schools if they went to college at all) not knowing better, but I’d think professional educators would.

            1. Gumby*

              I went to a high school with 3000 students. I think I saw my counselor once a year when she handed me my schedule for the next year and some of that may not have been done face to face. I am not sure she even knew where I planned to apply. She was the counselor for 600 students; I was a good student and never got in trouble.

              My teachers, likewise, didn’t really have the whole “where are you applying” conversation with me outside of the context of me asking them to write recommendations. They didn’t express opinions on my choices. Maybe they would have if they had seen a problem?

              I did get a couple of opinions once I was deciding between places where I was accepted. My Spanish teacher wanted me to select her alma mater (which I did, but not because of anything she said) and another teacher, whose class I wasn’t even in, wanted me to select Other School because of the location (but they offered much less financial aid, it was across the country and I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go home more than once a year).

              That all said, those conversations were big among the students. I got a lot of information from classmates. But that also depends on having gone to a public high school with a diversity of backgrounds so all of my classmates had different plans. Also the Peterson Guide (I think that is what it was called – it was a book that they mailed out, I think in reaction to PSATs?, that had info on most of the colleges in the US, one page per; this was before all of that info was easily findable online).

            2. Salymander*

              The religious (cult) high school I attended for one year didn’t have counselors. Or teachers. We did work packets that offered very little educational value, and there was no real help or oversight. The only colleges we ever heard about were unaccredited fundamentalist christian ones that offered mostly religious instruction and home economics classes to young women. If you attended, it was so you could be the wife of a minister or missionary. It was very different from the public high school I transferred to, which had lackluster and overburdened counselors that were uninformative, but at least had materials from a variety of universities so we could find the information ourselves. I mean, just seeing brochures from these universities was a big deal to me. I didn’t have any information about the outside world while I was at the cult school other than what the minister deemed to be proper for “the future mothers of Christian children.” This kind of thing is more common than anyone realizes.

              1. Rainy*

                We had some neighbours when I was a kid whose children went to their church’s religious K12 school and it ended up getting shut down by the state. They did work packets (which they called “paces”) and barely had actual instruction. It was pretty big news when the school was closed down (small town) and most of the kids “graduated” barely knowing how to read and write. It was pretty awful, but still not as bad as the situation for some kids in the county where one of my ex-girlfriends grew up. A bunch of farmers pulled all their kids out of public school and claimed they were attending a “religious co-op homeschool” and then put them to work on the farm.

                1. Salymander*

                  Yeah PACE was the same crappy system I did. It was just so bad. They actually admitted that they felt we would be more well behaved and pliant, and thus better wives, if we were poorly educated. Like, they actually said it. Out loud. And for about half the time I was there they pulled me out of school completely to do construction work. I am not trained in any sort of construction, and there were no safety precautions taken with any of the child workers. And I was 14-15 at the time. Unpaid. It was super sketchy, and eventually shut down by the state after one of my friends was killed in a horrible construction accident caused by the school’s negligence. Unfortunately, these people just keep hopping from state to state, getting shut down or threatened with legal trouble and then moving on to open up shop across state lines before they face any real consequences. They even tried this in Mexico, but the Mexican army shut them down, rounded them up and booted them out of the country.

                  I have always heard that BYU provides a quality education. I just disagree with a lot of their political and moral stances. But PACE was just garbage. Not one redeeming feature about it.

                2. Zweisatz*

                  Thanks Salymander for your insights! I hope you did get a shot at some quality education without drowning in depts.

          4. Crow Eating Woman*

            We recently hired a Liberty grad. I am shocked to find that the narrow-minded fundieness i expected is nowhere to be found and she is very sharp and very bright. And darkly hilarious.

            I need to check my preconceived notions at the door, I think.

            1. Salymander*

              Sometimes, if you grow up in those types of circumstances, you survive by developing a very dark sense of humor. It is hard to get away from a family that might keep you from many educational opportunities. They might have the best intentions in the world, but good intentions don’t magically make finding a job out there in the world any easier if you grew up going to a PACE school and then an unaccredited religious college.

            2. LR*

              Liberty online is a very different beast from Liberty on campus. They have so little in common. Online students are not “allowed” to use the campus bookstore! (I assume they could go in and pay cash, but cannot access as a student).

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I used to work with a woman who went to a pointedly Catholic college despite being an atheist and a lesbian. But they were near her grandparents and offered her a good scholarship. People choose schools for a lot of different, and sometimes not immediately obvious, reasons.

          1. Anonymous4*

            Liberty or Regent, definitely. In fact, I’d be doing a whole bunch of blinking! BYU? Prolly not.

            1. Delta Delta*

              I’m in a liberal area, and there’s a small public high school near me (50ish graduates/year) and for the last several years, 2-3 kids per year go to Liberty. I am acquainted with a Liberty parent so I asked how the child picked it one day when I saw them. And in true 17 year old decision making, child said, “I heard from Wakeen it’s nice there so I visited and I liked it. And they gave me a scholarship. and the winter isn’t very cold.” So, there you go.

              1. The OTHER Other*

                I knew someone in high school who chose a university based on their football program. And he did not play football, or have anything else to do with it. Yes, we were all 17 once, but I still chuckle about that one.

                1. Turanga Leela*

                  Ditto. I know someone who went to the University of Kentucky because of their basketball team. He is not from Kentucky and does not play basketball. He had a great time.

                2. A.P.*

                  Your friend is not alone. A championship season is known to drive up applications, even at big schools like Michigan and UCLA.

                3. Rainy*

                  There was a guy in the cohort ahead of me in grad school who chose our program because of the university’s basketball team. He didn’t play, but he went to every game. It wasn’t a big deal (aside from the fact that he was That Guy in our master’s program) but it struck me as odd. He’d done his undergrad at [redacted] though, and after I met a few more of them, I realized that a lot of the [redacted] alums were like that.

                4. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

                  Oh yeah, I taught a bunch of those folks when I was a grad student at Giant Football U. By and large, they weren’t my favorites. The first-gen scholarship students, or the athletes from lesser-known sports? Almost universally a joy.

                  The name on your diploma is one thing; what draws you to the place, and what you make of it, is a different story.

              2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                Now, now, don’t judge my decision to go to a university in CA rather than IL or NY (I only got accepted to 3 schools).

                1. Salymander*

                  I loved my CA university, but I actually chose it because they basically just threw money at me. I couldn’t afford to ignore a full scholarship, and now I am super thankful because I got a great education and I’m not being crushed by student loan debt. And I met my husband there! :))) Now if we can just pay off his student loans some time before the end of the universe, that would be great. In my dreams maybe.

            2. Rayze_On_2B*

              Just pointing out that the same issue – lots of reasons people pick colleges – also even applies to Liberty and Regent. Liberty has a bunch of scholarships for certain things and I know people who went there simply because it made college affordable (they then lived off campus to avoid many cultural aspects). Same thing with students who come from conservative families – if the choices your family will a xept when you are 17 are Liberty or Bob Jones, you would pick Liberty.

              I find that if I feel like the choice of college might be indicative of something else related to cultural fit in our team, asking “I see you went to x….what drew you to attending college there” as part of the just getting to know you chit chat of an interview. “I just fell in love with it” is really different than “it was my best aid offer”.

              This only applies to Undergrad. Choosing Liberty Law School is a whole other thing.

              1. pantslesseconomist*

                my understanding is that Liberty has a pretty poor academic reputation (in addition to absolutely abysmal social one). So I’d be skeptical of a Liberty grad on both social and academic fronts.

                Not true of all religious colleges (BYU, Baylor, most of the old catholic ones, etc), but definitely true of many of the evangelical ones.

                1. Emilia Bedelia*

                  I think it’s important to remember, however, that this was 15 years ago. “Social issues” are mostly relevant to the current day. I’m not referring to Liberty specifically here and not really interested in going into the specific history of various “bad” schools, but in general, social views and the current issues that impact the perception of a school can change a lot. If you choose to go to a school with a bad reputation in 2022, that is different from choosing to go to a school with an okay reputation in 2005 that turned out to go bad later.

              2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

                I, uh, may have chosen my university based in part on the number of men in the student body. (None of whom turned out to be the boyfriend I was hoping for, alas.)

            3. une autre Cassandra*

              Yeah, especially out west I can’t imagine anyone being too weirded out by an applicant having graduated from BYU.

            4. wittyrepartee*

              Even then, I’d be like “guess your parents really wanted you to go to Liberty”. Like… sometimes that’s the option that a kid is given if they want higher education.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Neither would I. BYU has a decent reputation as a school. All anyone is seeing when they look at your resume is that you 1) graduated college and 2) from a decent school. They are not going “Whoa she 100% endorses everything this school stands for.” That goes for pretty much any school (Liberty being one of the exceptions).

            I mean if someone went to Berkely, no one automatically thinks they are a radical leftist who is out protesting every weekend.

            1. A Penguin!*

              Actually, I do know a couple of people with that automatic thought about Berkely students. Fortunately they are no longer involved with any sort of hiring/employment decisions, but they did both formerly run/own small businesses – albeit not ones where college degrees were relevant/required for their employees.

              1. EPLawyer*

                Oh there are always going to be people like that. I should have qualified it as “most people” do not automatically think.

                1. Texas*

                  It likely depends on your area, but in my experience there are lots of people who do assume that about anyone who goes to Berkeley or colleges with primarily left-leaning/progressive student bodies.

              2. Oryx*

                There was an episode of Criminal Minds that started with two students from Berkley being murdered and watching it the first time I was convinced it was some kind of flashback to the 1960s / 1970s based on how the costumer designers dressed them, only to discover, no, they had gone full stereotypical hippie for students in, like, 2010

                1. Gumby*

                  I mean, full stereotypical hippie is not extinct on Berkeley’s campus in the present day either. It’s not *all* there is, by far, but it is there. (And probably at a bunch of other places.)

              3. Just Me*

                Plus there are Mormons who don’t agree with some of those Church policies, either. One of my best friends went to BYU and was all for progressive reforms within the church. She has since left and also works in a liberal field, but a) if you have other work experience/volunteer experience that’s more left-leaning, that will stand out, and b) it would frankly be pretty discriminatory for potential employers to assume you were unable to do certain work or unwilling because you happened to go to a Mormon university and/or might be Mormon. But, if you’re concerned, you can also bring it up in the interview stage. I work for a Catholic university but in my interview my boss went, “Hey, just so you know, I’m Jewish and love working here. You don’t have to be Catholic to work here, you just have to know what some of the institutional values are.” Or in your cover letter, saying something like “I learned xyz values at BYU and learned a lot about community service. Even though I’m not part of the faith I value the time I spent doing abc…”

                1. .*

                  Big massive THIS, as I can vouch that this is a huge discussion going on within the church. It’s losing people due to its policies but not everyone still there is sitting quietly about it.

                  I can also say that in workplaces, there’s room to be both religious and liberal if that’s your vibe. Mine has a portion of EDI activists who are both, in a left-leaning environment. Workplaces are full of people who are just as complex as you are, and you may have to have those conversations, but I’ve mostly found that people are understanding during them.

            2. Observer*

              I’m not sure that Liberty should be such an exception. Keep in mind that their CURRENT student body was instrumental in pushing out their President. Which is to say that a there is a significant proportion of students IN the school that don’t agree with everything, or even most, of what the college espouses. By 10-15 years later, especially with a decent work history?

            3. StarHunter*

              The best thing I ever saw in applying to a job was the company asked applicants to remove where and when you went to college/grad school from your resume and just list the degree received. They specifically mentioned it was to reduce bias in the selection process.

              1. DireRaven*

                If they need that information for a background check – as a last formality before extending an offer, or upon making a contingent offer, it can be provided at that time.

        1. Ana Gram*

          Yep. My nominally Christian but not Catholic husband is finishing his master’s at a Catholic university and will probably end up at another Catholic institution for his doctorate. They have good programs so it would be silly to rule them out.

          1. A.P.*

            Some of the country’s best universities are Catholic: Georgetown, Boston College, Notre Dame. And plenty of non-Catholics and non-Christians go to them.

            1. Ana Gram*

              Absolutely. I grew up Catholic so I have more of an awareness of what colleges have Catholic roots but he was really surprised. He’s been researching institutions and I keep hear him muttering about Jesuits which I find hysterical!

          2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            My quote Pagan self got his degree from a Catholic university. Other than the occasional
            PhD nun or priest teaching classes you’d never have known. I minored in Comparative Religions and took classes from a Rabbi, a Zen master, a Lutheran minister, and a practicing Pagan. All employed by the university to teach the appropriate classes

        2. Lucy Skywalker*

          I graduated from a Catholic college over 20 years ago, and there were many atheists, LGBTQ people, and people who practiced religions other than Catholicism. There were openly gay people, atheists, and non-Catholics who worked at the college, and one of my classes was taught by a rabbi. Some Catholic colleges tend to be surprisingly liberal.

      3. Kaittydid*

        I agree with you! College choices are made by teenagers, and generally workplaces are hiring adults. The school I went to isn’t well known or prestigious, but it’s for sure Catholic, owned by the monastery on campus. I ended up getting my degree and jettisoning what little faith I entered with at the same time. It took me a few more years to figure out that I’m gay, though.

      4. Shhh*

        I’ve been involved in a couple of searches for academic positions at my current workplace. We’re less concerned about where you went to undergrad than where you went to grad school, and we’re less concerned with where you went to grad school than where you’re working now, and we’re less concerned with where you’re working now than with the work you’re doing now.

        I wouldn’t bat an eye at someone having gone to BYU.

      5. Alena*

        As long as a school is accredited, I do not make any judgments – especially if the candidate isn’t straight out of school. It basically means nothing as long as they are fit for all the things we look at.

        And I DID just hire someone who just graduated from Liberty that Alison mentioned above. Its kind of weird because I live in VA (a liberal part of VA) but its considered a good school to do virtual or get masters in – I’m not sure what Alison’s deal with them is except really disagreeing with their stance on many things, which at the end of the day for employees – I dont see much of a connection. The person I hired is super smart and awesome and fit in with our very diverse team well – I would never discriminate like that.

        1. Ana Gram*

          I’m also in a liberal part of VA and we don’t really consider Liberty to be a school that provides a rigorous education. Just looking at their doctrinal statement, I would assume that any science classes there are of questionable legitimacy. And I would (and do!) ask applicants who graduated from there about working with and for people whose beliefs differ vastly from theirs.

        2. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Liberty also actively reaches out to the military, hoping we’ll spend it Tuition Assistance money on their virtual programs. Although I know lots of fairly to rabidly conservative military members, I also know fairly to rabidly progressive members, too. Don’t automatically assume conservative just because Liberty is where the degree is from. :)

          1. DireRaven*

            Exactly. Don’t assume conservative.
            I have a Masters of Divinity from Liberty, concentrating in Christian Theology and Chaplaincy.
            I have a Masters of Business Administration from Oklahoma Christian University.

            Maybe it is because of that or in spite of that I’m an atheist anarcho-communist.
            (My ultra-conservative, ultra-southern-baptist religious in-laws know better than to start with me. So, I’m no longer allowed unsupervised by one of their parents access to my nieces and nephews)

      6. PeanutButter*

        Same. My first undergrad degree is from a private Evangelical liberal arts college. (NOT LIBERTY U) Most people don’t even recognize the name, and it’s so long ago no one cares. Then it gets to be a funny story about my past I can tell at parties.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Absent further information, Brigham Young is a religious university where I wouldn’t automatically assume that the person follows the teachings of the church. Maybe they do, and with more information I would make a note of it, but I wouldn’t automatically assume that this person is an active, practicing member of the church.

      There are heavily Catholic, Jewish, AME, and Seventh Day Adventist schools where that would be the same case. There are plenty of people who attend those schools who are athletes and that’s where they got a scholarship, or that was the school with a good program in what they wanted to study, or it was close to home, or that’s just how it worked out financially.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Ex-Mormon here. If I were the LW, I would include something in my summary about a commitment to DEI initiatives (whatever that might look like for their industry). BYU Students follow the teachings in that they are required to adhere to a Mormon honor code, which cites Mormon scripture.
        From their website:
        “By accepting appointment, continuing in employment, being admitted, or continuing class enrollment, each member of the BYU community personally commits to observe these Honor Code standards approved by the Board of Trustees “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9):
        Be honest.
        Live a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.
        Respect others, including the avoidance of profane and vulgar language.
        Obey the law and follow campus policies.
        Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, vaping, and substance abuse.
        Participate regularly in Church services (required only of Church members).
        Observe Brigham Young University’s Dress and Grooming Standards.
        Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code.”

        1. EPLawyer*

          I don’t think the average employer screening resumes/conducting interviews knows the BYU Honor Code. This is a case of “people are thinking about me/my situation waaaaaaaaay less than I think they are.”

          1. The OTHER Other*

            I think the LW might be overthinking it. In most fields, what college you attended quickly becomes less relevant compared to your work history and accomplishments. This could definitely be a factor for your first job, but it’s significance will wane dramatically over time.

        2. Critical Rolls*

          I don’t make assumptions about whether people really followed codes of conduct in college. Some schools have them, some activities have them, and they vary wildly in strictness/reasonableness. And 15 years out, it absolutely does not matter because the difference in experience and maturity between a kid in college and a professional in their mid-30s is (hopefully) incredibly vast.

          1. Shad*

            Heck, even if they followed it, that doesn’t necessarily mean they even believed it at the time.
            It just means they know how to stay in line with irrelevant rules. Which can be plenty useful at work!

            1. PeanutButter*

              Some of us used some of the rules to get around other rules! I went to an Evangelical college that had a dry campus. We were required to go to SOME sort of church services and bring signed slips to our RAs from leadership in whatever congregation we went to. By the time I hit Sophomore year, I was pretty much done with religion altogether so I started going to the local Greek Orthodox church where there was a short homily and then 2-3 hours of “luncheon” which was basically getting blasted on bathtub ouzo with yiayias who didn’t speak English and stuffed me with Greek food. I would wander back every Sunday afternoon preeeetty tipsy but every time someone tried to find out if I was really going to the bar on Sunday the priest confirmed that my butt was in the pews saying my Kyrie eleisons every week and I was an “active participant in church activities.”

        3. President Porpoise*

          I like the DEI initiative inclusion suggestion. I am also ex-LDS with a church school in my history – thankfully, I transferred mid-degree and can cite another good schools as my alma mater.

          Solidarity, OP.

        4. Cee*

          Most schools have codes of conduct that include abstaining from illegal activities like underage drinking and recreational drug use also.

          I don’t think college kids have a reputation for following codes of conduct to the letter, so I can’t imagine anyone seeing BYU on a resume would assume that that person strictly adheres to all BYU rules.

          1. FridayFriyay*

            That sort of erases that same sex sexual and romantic relationships and unmarried sexual relationships are lumped in with illegal activities here. As a queer person yeah, it gives me pause. I wouldn’t totally write someone off over it but it’s a datapoint and I’d be extra clued in to how they answer DEI questions, whether they have to fix their face if I mention my wife in passing etc. If they otherwise demonstrate their acceptance or are at least neutral about it in practice that’s great, but asking people to totally ignore it when it is a small but potentially meaningful signal doesn’t seem fair either.

            1. Observer*

              Well, that’s the thing – it’s not really a data point. For one thing, you simply have no idea of how closely the person agreed with (never mind FOLLOWED) the conduct code while they were in college. Years later?

              Now, of you are talking about current affiliations that’s different.

              1. blakey*

                Sure, but this is still a person who agreed to abide by an openly homophobic CoC because they chose to attend a university affiliated with a religion known for its open homophobia. It’s not completely beyond the pale to suggest that graduates who aren’t on board with that homophobia might want to signal as much – and it’s completely beyond the pale to suggest that a queer person can’t be concerned about a graduate who doesn’t do so. Being queer is still actively dangerous. “Not really a data point” isn’t the concern here.

                1. STLBlues*

                  Seconding this. It is very much a data point. It’s not conclusive about the person, but it does mean at some point in their life they were okay being affiliated with a homophobic organization.

                  Doesn’t mean they support it now. Doesn’t even mean they supported it then… but it wasn’t a deal breaker. That’s a data point. Something to probe into and be aware of.

            2. Tuckerman*

              Yes, thank you. At the time, they agreed to adhere to a policy that is blatantly discriminatory. If religion wasn’t a factor here, if this was a state school requiring an honor code like this, I guarantee there would be a lot of bad press.
              I get that there are difficult choices, though. Some attend BYU in part because it’s so affordable.

        5. Beth II*

          BYU makes me think of sports – that’s literally it. Also they have a branch on Oahu and all the students run the wonderful Polynesian cultural center. LOL. People don’t really pay that much attention.

        6. Princesss Sparklepony*

          abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman…..

          Am I the only one seeing a huge loophole here?

          1. Nina*

            it’s not ‘abstaining from any sexual relations [outside of marriage] between a man and a woman’, it’s ‘abstaining from any sexual relations [outside of marriage between a man and a woman]’. It’s intended to forbid any sex that is not between 1 man and 1 woman, who are married, to each other.
            it sucks.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        The Seventh Day Adventist church is pretty big where I’m from, so tons of people go to SDA schools. If I saw it on a resume, I would assume that their family was SDA (or sometimes a boyfriend or girlfriend), not necessarily that the individual is SDA. I know several people who weren’t that into the religion even as teens and would have preferred another school, but they didn’t have a choice.

      3. Hats Are Great*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t even blink at BYU. That’s more in your Georgetown/Notre Dame/Vanderbilt group than in your Bob Jones/Liberty U/Ave Maria group. It’s a totally normal place to go for academic reasons, and I would not assume religion drove your choice.

        And if for some reason I did think about it in passing, I’ve known enough kids from conservative families whose parents allowed college only if going to an appropriate religious university that I wouldn’t assume it was YOUR choice. It might have been! But it also might have been what your parents demanded, and most college kids’ choice of school is heavily influenced by their parents. Sometimes you take your parents’ financial support and bide your time to get your degree, and break away when you’re self-supporting.

        1. Anonymous4*

          I used to live in a small city that had a small, ultra-religious school, and I was credibly informed that you could find the girls from that school out whooping it up on a very regular basis in the dance places across town.

          It wasn’t a self-contained campus, like Regent or Liberty; it was located in what became a general-purpose neighborhood, and they could go a couple of blocks over and a couple of blocks down, meet their date on a street corner, and change in the car.

          1. That IT Guy*

            I went to a school like that (for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the religion and everything to do with the fact that I didn’t have to pay a dime) and I can confirm this sort of thing to be the case.

            1. They Called Me....Skeletor*

              Same. For me, though, it was because I didn’t want to leave home yet. Went to a private religious university that has consistently been on US News & World Report’s Top 10 list of private religious universities. It was in what used to be a small town, just close enough to Los Angeles that you could get into biiig trouble hardly even trying. I partied with the uni’s football players when I was in high school and saw the same thing going on when I attended the university.

      4. Allornone*

        My grad school, while not as well-known as BYU, was very Catholic. But they were also one of the only ones with a decent reputation that offered a degree specialized to my field, and offered it online (which I needed). I work at non-profits now which tend to be left-leaning (as am I), and no one has ever batted an eye. They seem just happy I have that degree.

      5. Artemesia*

        I don’t assume someone who went to Notre Dame is a fundamentalist Catholic although the school has moved that way over the last 30 years. I would absolutely assume someone who went to BYU was a Mormon although that would not stop me from hiring them as my experience with Mormon colleagues has always been excellent.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Yeah, with the caveat that I’m in a technical field and not like, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, I’ve known and worked with several active members of the Mormon church, and they’ve all been wonderful colleagues. The OP shouldn’t give this another thought.

      6. Rose*

        I didn’t even know BYU was a Mormon school. I knew it was a religious school in the south with a good academic reputation. I thought it was methodist and in Texas. I think of it like Notre Dame where people know it’s a religious school but the students would be a huge range of religious to raised in the culture to this school gave me a good scholarship.

        I think people always over estimate what other people will know about their colleges.

        1. Selina Luna*

          I know you know this now, but it’s in Utah, which I consider more “western US” than “the south.” BYU has a good academic reputation, and I considered looking at their Ph.D. in education for a minute. When I saw that they required a note from an LDS church leader (pastor? priest? the one who leads the services), I stopped considering them. But I knew they were Mormon going in. Brigham Young was a big figure in the early Mormon church, and even if you’re not Mormon, it’s not uncommon in the 4 corners to have a basic understanding of their early history.
          I wouldn’t blink at a resume that showed BYU as a school, though. Teachers from there tend to be about as prepared as other teachers in my experience. However, I will never hire another teacher from Liberty U or Bob Jones unless they say something VERY compelling during the actual interview. I’ve worked with 4 from those schools, and they were the most difficult teachers, and they seemed to actively hate students who practiced native religious practices. This is a problem in a public school on the reservation, as you can imagine.

          1. Another ADDer*

            Its original campus is in Utah. There’s another in Idaho, another in Hawaii, and I think two or three more, though I’m not sure where.

        2. quill*

          Not to nitpick, but you’ve perfectly illustrated that people may not even be accurate in what little they do know about BYU. (It’s in Utah, so… usually referred to as the southwest or the rocky mountains, rather than the south. :) )

    3. SavedFromLorna*

      Honestly, BYU’s reputation is more for excellent educational standards IME. But my experience is not universal.

      In any case, though, an intelligent person will understand the school’s stance on LGBTQIA+ issues is not universal among its students (I mean, I went to a university than until a couple weeks ago employed Jordan Peterson, and no one’s accused me of being a hard-right benzo addict!).

      Good luck in your search, LW2 <3

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        Just read Peterson’s woe is me letter (of course it’s in the National Post…). I’ve had one or two people ask if I was in any of his classes (luckily I graduated the year he started, so nope), but like you no one has assumed I’m right leaning because I have a social sciences degree from U of T instead of York.

      2. PT*

        Look at some of the crackpots that work at Stanford. Nobody thinks of Stanford as a conservative school- and it isn’t, generally- but it employs a good number of conservatives. They’re just a noisy minority.

        1. evens*

          It sounds like you’re conflating conservatives with crackpots. That’s obviously not what you mean, right?

        2. Princesss Sparklepony*

          Most of the conservatives at Stanford are part of the Hoover Institute. They are in their own silo there.

    4. Shiba Dad*

      Given that the LW stated that they live and work in left-leaning places this might be okay. However, they may not be “out” as an ex-Mormon to family and friends. LW may not want to strain those relationships.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        If OP is comfortable doing this, it’s a great suggestion. It’s respectful and unobtrusive, and it will loudly counteract any negative signals from her BYU affiliation.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Also, LW2, depending where you are and how common Mormonism is in your area, folks might be aware that BYU graduates just about as many jack Mormons as folks that still practice. In addition, BYU is also a popular option for strict Muslim families from around the world since they are lighter on the conversion side of things on campus than other religious schools, but still have the no drinking/no sex thing going on. Not to mention, they are well known for giving very, very generous scholarships. I know more than one person from Navajo, the Ute, and Paiute Tribes who became nominally Mormon for the sweet, sweet full ride+housing+stipend.

      1. Purple Cat*

        Interesting, I never would have considered that a “conservative” environment would also be appealing to conservative followers of a completely different religion.

        1. Artemesia*

          I remember reading that strict Muslim parents sometimes chose BYU for their daughters because of its conservative religious environment. I don’t know if it is true, but it made sense when I read it since fundamentalism across religious faiths shares a common thread in treatment of women.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I hadn’t thought of that angle, but it makes sense.

            Not college-related, but a lot of people who are not Catholic send their kids to Catholic schools when their local public schools are sub-par. It just means that they wanted their kids to have a better education.

            OP, I would let the rest of your resume/your volunteering/your overall demeanor speak for itself. I could not now tell you where one of my candidates went to college, but I can tell you that all of her very political jobs and other associations stood out more than her GPA or alma mater. Likely it will not be an issue.

        2. anonymath*

          This is also true of some of the more conservative Catholic colleges in my area; observant Muslim parents of a certain school of thought feel more comfortable sending their daughters, in particular, to such a school. I think the US forgets how similar conservativism can be across religions and cultures because of the way we refract these identities in media conversation.

        3. m_sparkles*

          This happened often at my Catholic High School. It was an all girls school with conservative uniforms so several Muslims families would send their daughters there – they would just sit out Mass and sometimes Theology class, but that was it.

        4. Emi*

          A couple of my siblings went to a Catholic school that also attracted Muslim students who wanted a social environment that was supportive of involved religious observance/practice, period.

        5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Totally blew me away too. I grew up in an area with a huge Mormon population so lots of BYU folks. Imagine my surprise when I was at a conference in Dubai and something like 50% of the Saudi women I met were BYU grads who knew people I grew up with. Apparently their moms went to Smith, Bryn Mawr, etc. but the outness and proudness of lesbians there in the 1980s-90s made a bunch of folks reconsider women’s colleges, so they opted for BYU because of the no sex+no alcohol and light touch conversion efforts appealed. I guess Catholic universities were OK on the no sex bit, but more lax on the drinking and BYU has better programs than the fundamentalist Christian schools.

        6. Kat*

          I went to a women’s college and we had a LOT of Muslim students, both US residents and international, because their parents thought they would not be philandering with boys instead of going to class.

          But the women’s college in question happens to be smack-dab in the middle of Boston.

          In spite of the best efforts of their very strict parents, any of those students who wanted to spend time with boys, go to parties with drinking and drugs, etc were freely able to do so despite attending a women’s college.

        7. Cat B*

          I went to Brandeis University, in Massachusetts. It’s a strong academic university that’s well known for having a majority Jewish student population including a large number of Orthodox Jewish students. (I’m Jewish but not Orthodox.)

          Less well known, it also has (or had, when I was there) quite a lot of religious Christian students. Many of them were there because it was their compromise with their parents between a wholly “Godless” academic college and a strictly faith-based Christian college that might not have strong academics. Brandeis was a school where you could steer clear of alcohol/drugs/premarital sex/”partying”, surrounded by lots and lots and lots of other people who were also avoiding those things for values-based reasons even if their specific religious beliefs were different from yours. It seemed to make a lot of sense for a lot of my fellow students.

      2. socks*

        I was going to say the same thing about jack Mormons. I honestly wouldn’t make any assumptions about someone’s beliefs based on seeing they attended BYU.

      3. PostalMixup*

        I went to college in Arizona, which has a sizeable Mormon population. It seemed like EVERY in-state classmate had at least one high school friend whose parents made them go to BYU. If you’re somewhere with a decent Mormon population, no one will think twice. Now I live in Missouri, where we expelled all the Mormons and mob-murdered the founder, and anyone with an affiliation is assumed to be Very Mormon, because there just aren’t that many.

    6. Just J.*

      LW#2 – As someone who reads a good amount of resumes, IMHO, at 15 years out of school, your alma mater should be listed at the END of your resume where it exists to confirm yes, indeed, you did indeed get a college degree.

      At 15 years into your career, I don’t care where you went to school. It’s your experience – and your most recent experience specifically – which counts way more than where you went to school.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        I think this is very field dependent. I work in a field where a master’s is required for some positions, but many, many people don’t realize this, so I get a lot of applications that don’t meet my minimum qualifications (that HR sets and I cannot change). I have a strong preference for education being at the top of a resume for this reason, I can tell right away if someone has the degree I need to move them forward or not. (But I’m not really looking at undergrad institutions, tbh)

        tl, dr: this is good advice for some fields but not others

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Same. I have my Masters listed right at the top because without it I’m not at all qualified for the jobs I apply for. I bet the same is true for anyone in a clinical role or law or any field where the degree is a baseline qualifier.

      2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        And even then I don’t even necessarily *care* that you even got a degree, it’s more of a small data point mixed with all your experience. Among my entire team, I think one of us has an electrical engineering degree (not even computer science or computer engineering), the rest of us all have a variation on a liberal arts degree, business degree, or in one case, no degree at all.

      3. LW2*

        I assure you, it’s a the very bottom, right above certifications. I mostly assume it’s just a point people check in on, but I wanted some second opinions.

    7. Christmas Carol*

      Jim “Mad Mac” McMahon, the punk QB from the Super Bowl champion ’85 Chicago Bears played his college football at Brigham Young.

    8. Sister Maria*

      Another BYU grad here who’s now an obvious exmo (if the tattoos aren’t enough, the queer relationship really drives the point home). I live in the Mormon corridor currently and haven’t felt like my BYU resume has factored into getting hired or not getting hired. I intentionally don’t put my mission or any other church accomplishments on my resume because I don’t think anyone cares. When someone inquires who appears to be asking because they’re LDS and are hoping I am too, I tell a white lie: I’m not Mormon (which is true, I’ve had my name removed) but at the time I attended college the program I was interested in was only offered at two schools: BYU and Columbia, and there was no way I was getting into Columbia. That usually satisfies their curiosity. Some friends say something vaguer like “my parents are” or “I was raised Mormon” which is another option.

      Additionally, a lot of people aren’t aware that the majority of BYU students are LDS and that Mormonism permeates the academic programs and school culture significantly. A lot of people assume it’s like Norte Dame, where there’s an affiliation but not every student is a practicing adherent. I think if you are kind to everyone and make a point of being an ally, people will take that more seriously than the school on your resume.

      My LDS background has been a huge asset in my job in education law, because it’s easy for me to identify Mormon dog whistles in things like school syllabi or school discipline programs. I hope that you’re able to take some of the positive things about being raised Mormon — public speaking experience, learning how to read music, a penchant for helping others—while abandoning the hurtful things like racism, homophobia, and lack of boundaries. It took me a long time to get there but I can finally look back at the person I was as a BYU student with affection. Being a forward thinking Mormon is tough, but the church benefits from your perspective, if you decide to stay. You’ll be in my thoughts!

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        One of my old friends from back home did his BS and MPH at BYU. He’s very, very Mormon and very, very out and proud. Last I heard he was working in SLC doing HIV and STD outreach because he knew the issues LGBTQIA+ Mormons were facing and wanted to help.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Even better, internet strangers with the means can donate to LGBTQIA+ orgs in good old SLC to assist his work. I’m not going to link is org, but there are a number of amazeballs groups. SLC is where the folks from WY, ID, MT, etc go to be in a gay community. Most arrive, if they are lucky, with the clothes they are in, so even a dollar or two can help

            PS: Sorry Alison if this is inappropriate. I’d never consider fundraising on your site, but if folks want to give love to people doing the work….

    9. Rose*

      Are managers really checking peoples social media? I’ve never done this, and none of my friends have either.

      1. Antilles*

        Given that many (most?) hiring managers can’t even be bothered to check the paperwork you actually gave them by taking 15 minutes to call references, I’d bet that most people aren’t checking social media either.

        1. Anonymous4*

          I don’t know about most people but we certainly do, where I work. We also follow up on all the references and in some cases have asked those references for more names. We do a LOT of training when we hire, and the person ends up with very valuable job skills, and we don’t want to waste time, effort and money on someone who’s likely to end up getting walked out by security.

      2. Elle Woods*

        It depends on what the job is. I have a number of friends who are social media managers and yes, they do check applicants’ social media profiles.

      3. The OG Sleepless*

        The last time I interviewed, the interviewer asked me a question about my hometown, which I didn’t mention anywhere in my resume or cover letter. I assumed she had looked me up on Facebook. I just thought it was amusing. A bit sloppy on her part. But my Facebook (and my regular life, really) doesn’t have anything salacious.

      4. Selina Luna*

        Managers definitely do check social media. I have mine pretty locked down for that reason. I have a “professional” Twitter where I follow exclusively trade groups for English teachers, writing teachers, and literacy professionals. My personal Twitter is locked, but it follows Rifftrax and nothing else. I don’t use it much. And my Facebook is so locked down that the hit on Google for my name takes you to a “page no longer exists” error.
        I think it’s kind of crappy that managers check social media, but they do.

      5. NancyDrew*

        I work in communications (PR, social, internal). Damn straight I check candidates’ social media.

    10. Nowwhat465*

      Even better, add your pronouns to your resume and LinkedIn. It is a very small, nuanced thing that will send the message without having to be obvious.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Most people do check LinkedIn when considering new hires. This is a good place to add some flair that you might not otherwise put on a resume.

    11. Anonymous Luddite*

      LW #2 – OK, you’ve heard from other BYU grads, here’s a little more.
      I’m a Utah ex-pat, living in a very large, very liberal West Coast city. I graduated from your arch rival, the University of Utah. My family has the distinct history of coming over from Nauvoo only to have our family patriarch be excommunicated from the church… TWICE.
      And I wouldn’t dream of looking askance at your application.
      Why? Because people change.
      See also a good friend of mine (who graduated from the Y) who is now a semi-pro dominatrix.

      1. Anonymous Luddite*

        I’ll repeat it here just in case:
        If listing your pronouns is a bridge too far, just show up to the interview with a Starbucks in your hand. (Nobody says what’s -in- the cup.)

    12. Emily*

      Have you thought of adding preferred pronouns on your resume? Last time there was a similar letter it was suggested by someone, I thought that was the most brilliant idea ever. Not heavy-handed but quite clearly signals that you are not in agreement on all things with the Church. Should land well with the majority of employers in a ‘liberal West Coast city’.

      1. Salymander*

        I do that when introducing myself to people who work at my kid’s school or are in any way involved in kid’s life. It is a great way to figure out which people will be a problem for our family by focusing any negative attention on me rather than waiting for them to target my child. Most folks are totally fine, and quite a few have responded really positively because they want to include pronouns but feel awkward. One or two have obviously been unhappy with it, and we are forewarned when dealing with them. This would also be a great way to signal that you are an inclusive person.

  2. M_Lynn*

    “Gang-related tattoos” sounds like such a racist dog whistle. For me, it would be a big enough red flag (aside from the tattoo issue itself) that I’d also really look at the culture of the org and their approach to questionable parental demands.

    1. Victoria*

      yep i was going to comment to say the same thing. “gang-related tattoos” basically don’t exist and are a racist myth. really recommend the “gangs” episode of the you’re wrong about podcast for more info about it.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I can’t imagine a member of the Yakuza wanting to work in a daycare, but those certainly exist! (and if you want to see some beautiful skin art, GIS yakuza tattoos)

        That sounds like a somewhat dubious place to work, though. That’s not the kind of thing you just spring on someone *after* they’ve accepted the job.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Except maybe Tatsu (AKA The Immortal Dragon) from The Way of the Househusband, but he seems to be more interested in home-making. Could see him volunteer for it if asked to, though.

          1. Anonny*

            I think there was a chapter where he volunteered to read for kids at a daycare or library. It went as expected.

            There’s also this bit in the ‘Yakuza members review Yakuza 3‘ boingboing article

            “S: I don’t know any ex-yakuza running orphanages.
            K: There was one a few years ago. A good guy.
            M: You sure it wasn’t just a tax shelter?
            K: Sure it was a tax shelter but he ran it like a legitimate thing. You know.”

            1. lost academic*

              I love this.

              There was a diner in my last city that was a similar setup – a guy went to jail rather than inform on the mob and when he got out they set him up with it for life. It had a menu like 5 pages long in a dense 6 point font, there wasn’t anything you couldn’t get. The guy was reportedly not quite right in the head but the place was great.

            2. Bowserkitty*

              Definitely going to have to read this (and play the Yakuza series someday). One of my favorite Japanese dramas is Ninkyo Helper, about a bunch of yakuza members working at a nursing home.

        1. Forrest*

          Because there are no members of the Yakuza working in childcare, and if there were, it’s very unlikely that American (or other Western) parents would recognise them and worry about their children being scared by them. They’d just see a Japanese person with tattoos.

          So this is not about parents legitimately recognising Russian or Japanese mafia tattoos and worrying about their children: it’s about seeing Black people with tattoos and Black hairstyles and associating them with “gang culture”, which is a racist white fantasy. That’s not to say there are no Black gangs anywhere ever, but the average “worried about GangCultureTM” white person cannot tell the difference between actual gang insignia and wider Black culture and fashion.

          Where people legitimately recognise and are frightened by tattoos which are associated with gangs, they tend to ban the tattoos associated with gangs. When they ban all tattoos, it’s because they don’t recognise gang tattoos, they just associate “Black person has tattoos” with “scary Black people gang culture”. It’s racist!

          I’m super suspicious of the fact that they didn’t clock the tattoos on LW at their interview, either– obviously I don’t know LWs ethnicity, but I suspect their tattoos didn’t register because they just saw, “non-Black person has tattoos and alternative look, no worries”, but they’d have noticed and brought it up if LW were Black because it would have triggered their “ooooh, GANG CULTURE” fears.

          1. FridayFriyay*

            That last bit is exactly the vibe I picked up from LW’s description of the interaction, with a side of “nice white lady obviously isn’t in a gang, nothing to see here.”

          2. Paige*


            I live in a neighborhood that occasionally has gang shootings. It is dangerous and stupid, but not a direct threat to anyone not involved. The only way I could conceive this being a safety issue for the children would be if a childcare worker were specifically targeted *while at their place of work* by someone who wanted to prove something. That is a lot of effort, and there are far easier and less risky ways to target someone.

            1. Switching to Anon*

              I have to disagree with you on this one. I’m from a neighborhood that also occasionally had gang shootings, and folks catch strays, identities get mistaken, and non-combatants sometimes get jumped. There’s definitely a risk to the community at large.

          3. Switching to Anon*

            Regular reader going anon for this. Someone that looks surprisingly like me from many years ago is a former gang associate (not member). Gang tattoos are absolutely a thing.

            Assuming all tattoos on people of certain ethnicities are gang tattoos – which is the most likely root of the policy – is the problem.

            As an aside, it’s not out of the question that people with past gang ties would work in early childhood education. Gang association goes beyond the binary of “normal people” and “guy with ‘X8’, ‘MOB’, or ‘SS’ tatted on his throat”, and there’s definitely people out there – myself included – in “regular” jobs with pasts that probably shouldn’t be used as icebreakers in a team building seminar.

            1. Also Anon this Time*

              Also Anon here:
              The ratio policy at my job is nothing visible that: is associated with any drug references (ie pipes, marajuana leaves, etc), glorifies violence (ie blazing guns, gang names, gang emblems, fighting), or involves sexual innuendo (the “Mexican cutie” from Margaritaville is used here). They just ask if you have that – to cover it; any other type of tattoo, we’re fine.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Interesting. One of my friend is a plastic surgeon who runs a free clinic for folks who want their gang related tattoos removed so they can move on and not be identified. Most of the patients got theirs in prison. In this area they are mostly those from Central American gangs that got exported from the US in the 1990s, Aryan Brotherhood, and Warrior Society. In my experience they aren’t myths, they are something folks end up getting to survive prison or to fly their racist flag high in the case of the ABs

        1. Anonymous4*

          Homeboy Industries in LA is a charitable organization that helps people who want to get out of the gang-prison cycle, and tattoo removal is one of the services they offer — and is usually the initial reason people go there.

          “Tattoo removal is a free service provided to participants in the Homeboy Industries’ program (trainees), members of the Los Angeles community, and minors who have gang-related or visible tattoos located on the hands, neck, or face.

          “This has proven to be our most popular and most critical services for former gang members. Primarily because visible tattoos can be a major obstacle making it difficult for many to secure employment.”

          1. Texan In Exile*

            OT, but if you want a heartbreaking peek into that world, read “Tattoos on the Heart,” written by Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. I got my mom to read it and may have been able to change her views on a few things.

          2. Well...*

            I mean isn’t this whole thread about how tattoos can be stigmatized and hurt someone’s work prospects even if they have nothing to do with gangs? It seems like the fact people want to remove tattoos that are seen as gang tattoos is weak evidence that they actually ARE gang tattoos.

            1. Anonymous4*

              There are gang tattoos, but a skilled and experienced teacher applying to a school with botanical ink on her arms is not flashing gang signs. Someone who was in a gang and who has tattoos that are associated with that gang has gang tattoos.

              Important safety tip: There are a LOT more people who have personal tattoos than there are who have association-derived tattoos. In the vast majority of cases, the honest answer to “Why do you have tattoos?” is going to be, “Because they’re [pretty].”

              (The answer could also be, “cool,” or “macho,” or “a reminder of my dead granddad,” or ” . . . I dunno, I just like them.”)

          3. Forrest*

            Hey, you’re doing a racism. Nobody is denying that there are such a thing as tattoos associated with gangs. We’re saying that it’s absurd to think that parents who complained about seeing “gang tattoos” on early years practitioners:

            – accurately recognised gang tattoos
            – were concerned about their children also recognising gang tattoos

            or that

            – that people with real gang tattoos were being employed by an organisation involved in early years education.

            What is far more likely is that they saw tattoos on Black people and generalised that these were “gang tattoos” because that’s an association that white people often make about Black people.

            Of course it’s possible that this organisation serves a population that is genuinely familiar with gang insignia and does know the difference between an actual gang tattoo and a Black person who just has tattoos — but in that case it seems unlikely that they would ban all tattoos rather than those associated with gangs.

            1. Forrest*

              OK, I accept there are some comments saying that gang tattoos fully don’t exist. But this is a real tangent since it’s really unlikely that that’s what is happening at this organisation.

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                I’d bet my life that no one in the Aryan Brotherhood is applying to work at a daycare. And, if they did, they would never get an offer. I apologize for starting this tangent. I was just reacting to Victoria’s statement:
                “yep i was going to comment to say the same thing. “gang-related tattoos” basically don’t exist and are a racist myth. really recommend the “gangs” episode of the you’re wrong about podcast for more info about it.”

              1. Daisy Gamgee*

                No, Forrest is making a very good point that no amount of “but racism doesn’t exist anymore” can whitewash.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          Yeah, gang/prison/white supremacist tattoos definitely exist. I’m sure there are lots of myths about gang tattoos, and anti-tattoo policies are dumb, but the concept of a gang-related tattoo is not itself a myth.

      3. FlyingAce*

        I guess my experience as a Latin American is different, but gang-related tattoos are very much a thing here (they don’t look like plants, though!). Google “mara salvatrucha” or “mara 18” to get an idea.

      4. Generic Name*

        There are gang-related tattoos…..for white supremacist gangs. (You can browse images at the Anti-defamation League’s website)

        1. Well...*

          Those would more likely be called hate symbols than “gang tattoos” even if it’s technically what they are. The dog whistle is clear to me idk, i feel like the anti-defamation league would agree.

          1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            I think calling them hate symbols instead of gang tattoos minimizes the danger of the groups that use those symbols. It’s already difficult to get people to realize that these groups are very dangerous and feeds into the narrative that what white people do is individual while what oppressed people do reflects on all the members of their groups, which is how Blackness is criminalized.

            1. Well...*

              Tbh I would prefer organized crime over gangs. To me gangs are too racially stigmatized and can mean such a wide variety of things (people in this thread are talking about gangs as mechanisms of protection in prison which doesn’t necessarily overlap with organized crime). It’s like the word terrorist. I’m not sure making it apply to white people as well is the solution.

              1. Daisy Gamgee*

                It’s like the word terrorist. I’m not sure making it apply to white people as well is the solution.

                Are you saying that you consider White people to be definitionally excluded from being gang members or terrorists? I’m …. not convinced of that. If not, what *do* you mean to say by this?

                1. Well...*

                  I mean that often both terms (terrorist and gangs) are used as racist dog whistles to refer to non-white criminals. I would prefer we stop using the terms altogether and pick terms that actually have more concrete meanings. I’m arguing against the solution to racist dog whistles that boils down to including white people in the definitions as well as an attempt to wash away their racist context.

                  The fact that you were so confused by what I was saying is exactly why these words just aren’t very useful.

                2. Daisy Gamgee*

                  Okay, now that I see what you mean, I think this is a point well worth considering. OTOH, there is the euphemism treadmill to deal with.

      5. Jenn B*

        What on earth are you talking about? Gang related tattoos definitely exist. Assuming a black person who has a tattoo is in a gang is a real stereotype and 100% a problem and racist, and this policy is crazy and is also totally racist – but that doesn’t mean gang tattoos don’t exist!

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Sad thing is unless it was an obvious swastika, most folks wouldn’t see AB or Hells Angels tattoos as “gang related” because in the dominant narrative white gangs don’t exist. Or, when they do, they are charming like Sons of Anarchy. Hell, AZ penalizes the display of “gang symbols” but specifically exempts “motorcycle clubs” (link to follow). If that ain’t racist, I don’t know what is

      6. The Dogman*

        Type “gang related tattoos” into a search engine and you will see they very much are a real thing.

        They are not likely to look like the sort of thing LW2 says they have for sure, but prison and gang “ink” is a very real, and extremely serious, subset of tattooing.

        A good friend is a tattoo artist here in the UK and they get about 3 or 4 gang tattoo coverup jobs a year. A friend of theirs in the states *only* does gang tattoo coverups.

        And if you look up “gang tattoo coverup specialist” you will find loads of tattoo artists who offer low cost or free coverup tats for gang related tattoo wearers.

        I am not saying LW 2 is even close to gang tattoos in look, but they are very real and a serious commitment, more so than a regular tattoo, even than sleeves.

      7. Unkempt Flatware*

        This isn’t true. I was a teacher in a high gang area and kids having gang tattoos was not uncommon and it was actually a way of protection. Three dots in a triangle mean something to many people and often it means, “do not mess with this child who is the son of Crips”.

        1. Anon4this*

          What it actually means is “Mi Vida Loca” – my crazy life. It’s a very old school meaning that comes from Chicano prison culture, though it was already known & used in subcultures outside of Chicano, jail/prison, and/or gangs even when I was a school kid many decades ago.
          While it’s often used by people in gangs, it’s not “gang affiliated”.

      8. Coconutty*

        ……….The fact that somebody might make racist assumptions about a person being associated with a gang if they’re a certain ethnicity and have tattoos is not remotely the same thing as gang tattoos not existing, and a single episode of a single podcast is not an adequate sourced cited page. I have no idea if this OP works in a school, an early intervention program, a counseling center, or something else, and I don’t know whether the “no gang tattoos” policy grew out of a valid concern or not. We just don’t have the context to scream DEFINITELY RACISM. But of course gang tattoos a real thing!!

      9. lmao what*

        This is the most middle-class, privileged take I’ve seen on this site in a LONG time, and that’s saying something. Gang tattoos are incredibly common, how are you not embarrassed to have written this lol

    2. LadyJ*

      I could not agree more. If we had a like button I would be smashing it so hard. Most people do not know a gang tat if it hit them in the behind.

        1. LadyJ*

          I hope you are joking because as a former caseworker unless they are not. Also, I want to point out that as a guy I know who works as a stocker and got his low rider tat in the late 70s and is now asked oh cool is that a Breaking Bad tat? What were gang-affiliated changes. 1% used to be used along with some other symbols in motorcycle gangs. Now the guys who can afford brand ner motorcycles to use on the weekend output them in a toy hauler have 1% tats. Also, very few people can keep up t=with the evolution of gang tats except those who are in. Basically, a gang tat becomes the shocking thing to do and then becomes meaningless.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Seriously, how many current or former gang members are employed at this preschool, and didn’t they already pass a background check to get hired?

      1. Renata Ricotta*

        And if former gang members ARE preschool teachers, I assume they’re already going out of their way to cover them up? Unlike folks who have say, images of plants on their arms. *side eye*

        1. Mangled metaphor*

          A former friend of my sister had a daisy tattoo.
          1) that’s probably not the plant you’re thinking of
          2) unless the Flower Fairies are in a blood feud with the Cabbage Patch Kids, it’s safe to say friend was not in a gang.
          3) this is a bad policy, implemented poorly. I might guess that the area is affluent? Associated with a certain buzzy insect that’s not a bee?

          For the record I judge tattoos solely on the basis of their spelling (and/or disturbing graphic content). Tattoos should not preclude a person from employment. I wouldn’t know a “gang” tattoo if it were drawn in Sharpie on the wall in front of me. I will, however give second thoughts to someone who decided “live, love, lagugh” didn’t need a spell check before inking.

          1. MsM*

            Hey, fairy turf wars are no joke. They’ll be talking about the Sugarplum Ball Massacre for eons to come.

            1. fluffy*

              I can’t resist recommending Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks for a definitive fairy war. Sorry to go off topic

          2. Worldwalker*

            Ever read the website “hanzismatter”?

            In addition to the spell checking, never get anything inked on your skin that you can’t read.

          3. The Dogman*

            “I wouldn’t know a “gang” tattoo if it were drawn in Sharpie on the wall in front of me.”

            I am pretty sure anyone would actually know a gang tattoo if it was drawn on a wall… Some of them are really obvious!

            Anyone with “1488” or “88” prominantly displayed is a Nazi, since that 14 is code for the 14 words (of the neo nazi creed) and 88 is two “h”‘s for the famous slogan I will not be typing out.

            And if you see someone with low quality crappy tattoos all over their face and neck they are either a gang member, a mumble rapper wannabe gang member or an edgy teen with issues. It sort of depends on the context you see them in though… ;)

            1. Anon because I'm being specific*

              They are obvious to YOU. People will see the things they know, if they actually know them. People who don’t know what 88 means (like me) won’t suddenly go “ah HA! Bad guy! Avoid!” just because they saw 88.

              1. A nice fish*

                Ok, but it’s a very common Nazi sign. And those people who *are* aware WILL often choose to avoid someone associating with it. Now you know it too.

                1. Anon because I'm being specific**

                  Well, yeah. That’s literally what I said — you see the things you know. I was objecting to the “anyone would actually know a gang tattoo if it was drawn on a wall… Some of them are really obvious.” That is false. If I do not know something is a gang sign, seeing it big on a wall just makes it…something big on a wall. They’re only obvious if you know them.

                  On February 10th, seeing someone with “88” on them would have made me go “oh, guess they were born in 1988” whereas The Dogman assumes that even though I had zero exposure to the Nazi implications of that (despite doing my thesis for my history degree on comparative totalitarianism, using Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia for the comparison and a portion of that research being what happened to those groups post-WWII) I would suddenly know that’s what it was because it’s “obvious.” No. It’s not.

            2. Anonymous too*

              I would not recognize these examples as gang tattoos if I saw them. Like maybe I’m in the minority, but I feel like my first thought would be some sort of reference to the year 1988. (A friend of mine was born in 1988 and her twitter handle is her initials and the number 88. I’ve also seen people born in 88 use it in email addresses, so I feel like this is what I would think before thinking “gang”)

              1. A nice fish*

                Just because you weren’t aware of a very common Nazi symbol doesn’t stop it being a very common Nazi symbol? And now you are aware of it. I think it would be kind to also make your friend aware – she can choose to change her twitter handle or not, but at least she won’t be blindsided then if someone thinks she’s a white supremist/Nazi.

            1. Mangled Metaphor*

              I had to pick a different one to that because I’m sure I’ve seen someone who deliberately got that tattooed, ironically! *facepalm*
              Although it still factors into my judgement, because it doesn’t suggest the best decision making skills. And for a childcare place should we really be encouraging bad spelling as aspirational?

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Prison gang tats exist, but the people who have them never would have made it past the initial screening and background checks for daycare workers

    4. emmelemm*

      Yeah, and as you note, it’s not a great response to “well, some parents complained.” How many parents complained? One really loud parent? One really racist parent? I’m unconvinced by this justification.

      1. Ariaflame*

        And given how big the turnover in parents must be as kids age, how many of them are still an issue?

        1. Yorick*

          The turnover is pretty slow, since children go to daycare until like age 12 (in summers and after school).

          1. BubbleTea*

            Depends on the facility, the one my son is about to start only goes up to age 5 which isn’t unusual here.

          2. Lenora Rose*

            Depends on the daycare. Some specialize in preschool only or in school age only, since the hour requirements are so different which means the staffing and space needs are very different. (Preschool = all day every day. School age = Before-and-after and sometimes lunch, plus days school is predictably closed in advance, like summer break. The later can even use school space because they don’t generally overlap, the former generally can’t.)

        2. Cera*

          Also have to factor in multiple children to the same families. I will have kids in the same daycare for 11 years by the time my youngest turns starts k.

      2. Writer*

        That is what annoys me. They made a whole policy because “parents” (no quantity or quality data given) said they were not comfortable with a stereotype. How about you use your leadership position to educate folks and say your org does not profile candidates based on body art because that reduces their entire talent, skills, and experience to a choice to display art on their skin. Don’t like tattoos, don’t get one. Done.

        1. lilsheba*

          I agree. Blanket hatred for tattoos and facial piercings in a work place is ridiculous in this day and age. I have both and I managed to raise 3 kids without them being scarred for life. Parents that demand these are not my kind of people.

    5. MK*

      My first thought was they used the term incorrectly for any tattoos with inappropriate depictions. But then again, they could have just said that and banned only tattoos with violent or sexual content. Also, I only know gang tattoos from probably inaccurate films, but the ones I remember aren’t really graphic, and don’t mean anything to those who don’t know, let alone toddlers.

      1. Zephy*

        Nope, little Timmy’s delicate psyche will be absolutely shattered if he sees a cool-looking star or crucifix on his teacher’s shoulder or foot. [world’s biggest /s]

        (I have a book all about Russian prison/gang/criminally-associated tattoos. You’re right, it’s very much an “IYKYK” thing – certain symbols and their placement have Very Clear Meanings to the in-group, but the out-group just sees shapes in places. Sometimes they can get a bit graphic – like, a weird amount of demon genitals? – but that doesn’t even apply to this LW since she said hers are all botanical.)

        1. Artemesia*

          The gang thing is a pretext. Many people — certainly my mother’s generation and she would be 110 now — think that tattoos and piercing signify ‘trashy low life that I certainly wouldn’t want around my kids in case they might imitate that as they grow up and become trash low lifes.’ The teaching on this was so clear to me as a kid that I have as an adult had to consciously re-arrange how I think about these things. My knee jerk on seeing tats is ‘probably drug using scum’ — which is stupid but not uncommon among older people raised as I was by fundamentalist religious people who were very clear about unacceptable behavior — all the way from card playing and dancing to hair dying and gasp — tattoos and piercings. This view has changed in the last 50 years, but it still lingers.

      2. Maya*

        I work at a daycare in a very conservative state, and our tattoo policy is nothing violent or graphic. I have plenty of coworkers with tattoos, and they’re all what I would consider pretty standard, like script quotes, names, flowers and butterflies, etc.

        I also know that parents can get weirdly demanding about specific points, but it is the daycare boss’ responsibility to stand up for their employees.

        If they really want to have a no tattoo policy, that’s on them, but they should really have mentioned that when they first saw her tattoos, and not sprang it on her on her first day!

    6. Dutchie*

      I follow a teacher on TikTok who once saw a very pretty cross sign tattoo and fell in love with it. She loved it so much, she got it tattooed on her hand. Well, years later she is an influencer on TikTok and someone informs her that it is, in fact, a gang sign and everything on google agrees.

      She is in the process of getting it lasered.

      So it does happen, but more importantly, I bet that none of the parents yelling about gang signs would have spotted this one, because it looked very cute indeed.

      1. Signs, Signs*

        Does make me think, though, that if her tattoo artist didn’t know it was a gang sign, and her immediate friends, family, and community also didn’t know, since she only found it out on the alleged greater world of Tik Tok, then…stay off Tik Tok. It’s not a gang symbol where she actually lives.

        1. Dutchie*

          Oh no, it was an actual gang sign. She saw it in her high school and the students she picked it up from were probably in the gang. The problem has more to do with the fact that she is white and those students were probably not.

          I also think you are weirdly hostile against TikTok. It’s like saying that if I discover that I committed a faux pas at work on facebook that facebook is the problem. No, it’s just that there I talk to people I normally only see in passing.

      2. DataGirl*

        There are a few tattoos that have meaning both in Christianity and in Aryan Nation/White Power movements, so people really should look up meanings before getting any tattoo.

        1. Dutchie*

          She did, but it didn’t came up. You really had to know the name of the gang to find it. It was really unfortunate for her. (She booked an appointment with the laser place as soon as someone mentioned it and she googled it, think hours after the comment was placed. She was mortified.)

    7. rolly*


      F#ck these people. What garbage attitudes they have – in the hiring lack of respect for the OP, and in their attitude toward tatoos in general and probably race as well.

      1. lilsheba*

        I’d be willing to bet against pagans or witches or atheists too. *GASP* you’re…not CHRISTIAN? sigh.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        And I’ll bet those parents aren’t asked to cover them up before drop off and pick up every day to preserve the delicate sensibilities of the other children.

        My own kids BEG for temporary tattoos all the time, and I’m willing to bet that school would have no problem with a child showing up wearing one of those. This policy is problematic all around, and obviously implemented by people that are either thoughtless or holding up some racist values.

    8. oranges*

      I really want an update from OP some day soon. Hopefully they ditched this crappy (and likely racist) place and moved onto something great where their talents and skills will be celebrated.

        1. Lexi Lynn*

          I’m very petty and think OP should find another job and leave with no notice. Then when they object, tell them that she’s unilaterally changing the terms of the agreement just like they did.

        2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

          I hope OP goes straight back to Old Job and asks if they’ve filled her position or has any others open. Worked in daycare for pretty much a decade. This covers the timespan during the early 90’s and again in the mid aughts (I think like 07-12) I have several visible tattoos. Was a Pre K Lead Teacher and have also taught the toddler and school age units. The most outcry at my tats was the toddlers pointing at them and going “sticker!” in an excited voice. Zero parental complaints. In all the time I worked daycare at 3 different companies I can only recall 1 time tattoos on a teacher was complained about. And then it was the owner trying to say that was why we had low enrollment in 1 room. This was one of our best teachers, a highly recommend peer in our local daycare community. Low enrollment was really due to schools opening their own preschool programs. And I suspect the owner complaining was more about the lead teachers race then the tatts. OP I’d even push back on the nose ring. If its under a mask its not visible then it shouldn’t matter. Cubicle Land job had a no offensive tattoos visible policy when I started there. Then they changed it to no visible tattoos if public facing years later. I looked my boss straight in the eye and said then I guess I will not be public facing. Now we work from home and no one sees us anyway.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            My kids responded to one of my heavily tattooed friends (birds, musical symbols, words, dragons, horses) pretty much by wanting to touch the tattooes to see if/how they felt different. Which, when not new or unfortunately placed (and with the support of some obvious manners lessons) she would allow.

            1. whingedrinking*

              Possibly the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard of was a friend’s four-year-old niece, who asked how old people were when their tattoos grew in. Every adult she knew had at least one, and no kids did; can’t really fault her logic there.

      1. Loredena Frisealach*

        This. I don’t even have a tattoo and that policy sets off red-flags! If I were the OP I would simply resume the recently ended job search and let this place drop off my resume.

    9. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Not racist, just plain old prejudice. For older generations, tatoos equal criminal activity, because of the myth that people only got them at prisons. Nowadays it’s a different story, but prejudice is still strong at some places.

      1. Dahlia*

        Hey, it’s really not cool when POC point out that something’s racist – especially POC in the US talking about racism in the context of the US – to be like “no it’s not”.

        1. LJ*

          Maybe above comment could’ve been phrased more elegantly – it sounds like it’s just saying there can be general prejudice – but I also don’t see the top comment (that was being replied to) say anything about being a POC?

    10. irritable vowel*

      The parents excuse is probably also just an excuse. Most parents of kids in daycare are in an age group where tattoos and piercings are very common and accepted forms of body modification/adornment and would not have anxieties about “gang-related” tattoos. This sounds more like a way for the management to exclude people of color from working at their daycare, because in their heads, Black/brown people belong to gangs.

    11. MicroManagered*

      Thank you. This stood out to me as strange too.

      Like, they’re worried someone’s tattoos might show a gang affiliation, but being covered in bandages is ok? BS.

      1. LC*

        Yep yep. I once worked at a restaurant with a “no visible tattoos” rule, so I wasn’t allowed to show the (tiny, adorable, candy heart tattoo) circling my wrist.

        More than just having to have it covered, I wasn’t even allowed to wear a watch or bracelets to cover it. If I wasn’t wearing long sleeves, I had to cover it with bandages/bandaids.

        I finally got them to relent (on the watch thing, at least) after the second customer pulled me aside to ask if I was okay and needed the suicide intervention phone number.

        The mental gymnastics some people go through. It’s exhausting.

      2. Salymander*

        Yeah, like tattoos are super bad, but it is ok to go around wrapped in grubby bandages like an extra from the film The Mummy? That seems ridiculous and unsanitary. Not to mention expensive. Buying all those bandages wouldn’t be cheap. And the parents will be weirded out by the bandages because they will be worried that OP has some kind of contagious rash.

    12. Momma Bear*

      Yeah…that struck me as odd. They really fell flat telling OP about the policy, and their choice to tell OP to “wear bandages” was way off. I would have suggested makeup (like they used in movies) if it was really that problematic but I’d wonder very much about their overall vibe and program. How racist/sexist/conservative/ableist are they? What other “gotchas” do they have and how much protection will the employee have from parents that get upset about something? My guess is not much. If HR bombs this so badly, how horrible will they be when you need them for something else?

      Sorry, OP. I would be looking for a new job immediately and put this experience on GlassDoor or something.

    13. JQ*

      I worked at a nonsectarian-but-predominantly Jewish camp that did not allow visible tattoos, because tattoos are against the religion. Parents generally did not want their child around tattoos because it was against their faith and because it diminished the horrors of the Holocaust’s forced tattooing.

      Your statement is coming across as a bit anti-Semetic.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        If that was the rationale for this policy and it was clearly communicated to prospective candidates during the interview process we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The topic of the letter is really different from this.

      2. Casper Lives*

        No. It’s definitely not antisemitic. If you choose to work at a religiously affiliated place, it’s unsurprising they have religious restrictions. You’re derailing and your comment seems designed to stir up discord.

        “Diminishing the horrors of the Holocaust’s forced tattooing” is a crock. I’m Jewish. People not of my religion choosing body art, sometimes that’s PART of their religion, doesn’t diminish the horrors of the Holocaust.

        The forced tattooing was horrific because it was a) a violent body modification, b) designed to humiliate and dehumanize, and c) deliberately and cruelly chosen to go against the sincerely held religious beliefs of the Jews as the religion prohibits tattooing.

        1. Pool Lounger*

          Yes. There are plenty of Jews with tattoos now (I’m one of them). No Reform rabbi has ever batted an eyelash.

        2. whingedrinking*

          And some of those cultures had genocide committed against them, too. The Canadian government tried to stamp out the practice of tattooing among the Inuit; it’s considered a mark of reclamation for some Inuks to get traditional tattoos, including very visible facial tattoos.

      3. Zombeyonce*

        But the school didn’t say anything about religion in their policy (and I’m sure OP would have mentioned it if they had), they didn’t want tattoos because of possible “gang relation.” These are two very different things and I don’t think it’s at all fair to say that about M_Lynn’s comment, which is only about the school’s wording being racist.

      4. Laney Boggs*

        Seeing tattoos as inherently being symbolic of “gangs” and a policy of no tattoos due to religion and culture are **completely** different situations

      5. Former Hominid*

        I am Jewish and I used to go to/work at not “nonsectarian-but-predominantly Jewish” camps but legit full on Jewish Summer camps and I’ve NEVER heard of this. I’ve also never ever heard of Jewish folks not wanting their kids around other folks with tattoos because of the holocaust, besides the usual American (now waning) prejudice against people with tattoos as lower class. If this so called “nonsectarian-but-predominantly Jewish” camp really had this rule- dollars to donuts it was because it WAS “nonsectarian-but-predominantly Jewish” and not ACTUALLY a Jewish camp. I’d love to know the name of this place and it’s location, but in general- since your phrasing indicates you yourself are not Jewish- (“their faith”) please do me and all Jews a favor and do not place yourself as the arbiter of what is or isn’t anti-semitic.

    14. Pam Adams*

      My sister, who teaches in an early-childhood program heard this too about her tattoos, which were also equally neutral. Once she pointed out the prevalence of tattoos among the families they served, they shut up.

      Also, one administrator told her she shouldn’t let the children use sidewalk chalk as it could lead to them doing graffiti/tagging! (She suggested that when they saw pastel chalk pictures on the freeway overpass, they would have cause to worry.)

    15. Kayem*

      Yeah, that’s the vibe I’m getting. Reminds me of my high school, which banned bandanas, head coverings other than ball caps, and colored shoe laces because of “gang association.” This was in the mid 90s in a very white, rural area in a very white, very rural state. There was maybe 200 people in the entire high school and the biggest thing that ever happened was when a Subway was built next to one of the only two gas stations. Even if it wasn’t clearly code for racism, there’s no way that would have even been a problem at that school. Like what, gangs are lining up just for a chance at taking over this town that has no stop light in a county that still bans alcohol sales?

      It was also ridiculous on a practical level. I had a lavender unicorn bandana that I liked to wear on hot days, but had to leave it at home while sitting in an unairconditioned building for eight hours a day after getting called to the principal’s office twice for wearing “gang colors.” A friend of mine got suspended for a day for refusing to take off her pink glitter shoelaces.

    16. SnappinTerrapin*

      Then again, it could have been prompted by complaints about employees displaying images associated with white supremacist gangs or white biker gangs. We don’t have enough facts to support this speculation.

      Even if the complaints arose because some employees displayed images associated with criminal gangs that are predominantly black, it’s a pretty broad leap to assume that race, rather than association with crime, is the primary concern of the complaining parents.

      On the other hand, the employer didn’t handle this well. I accept the LW’s assertion that her tattoos are benign in nature, and her employer should have addressed that up front.

      By the way, if you hear the dog whistle, what category does that put you in?

      I’ve seen real racism, and I’m not going to jump to conclusions about the facts presented in the letter.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        “By the way, if you hear the dog whistle, what category does that put you in?”

        Holy False Dilemma, Batman.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          I’ve noticed the folks who claim to hear those “secret signals” operate from their own set of biases and stereotypes.

          Racism is real. Not every issue is race-based.

          Not every bigotry is racial.

          Making decisions based on bigotry is wrong. No matter which biases a person has picked up over the course of their life – and we all have – it’s vital to look past the stereotypes and not jump to conclusions about the people we deal with.

      2. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

        “By the way, if you hear the dog whistle, what category does that put you in?”

        Ah yes. The “he who smelt it dealt it” theory of racism.

  3. Faithless in Fresno*

    Re: #2, this may be a bit overboard depending on your career goals, but are you ever planning to get another degree, certificate, etc.? I wouldn’t do it just for kicks, but if you’re thinking about it anyway, having that at the top of the education section instead of BYU (and same for LinkedIn etc.) would serve your purposes—you could choose to identify as a UCLA student/grad (or whatever). Lots of people emphasize one school over another, with the more recent perhaps reflecting your current thoughts and not those of an 18-22 year-old.

    1. LW2*

      Nope. Secondary degrees are not required (or terribly useful) for my profession and would be a huge investment (both time and money) for marginal gain.

    1. LadyJ*

      My concern is that it will start rumors that she self harms or has a skin condition based on what this place sounds like.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Judging by the comments I’ve received about the scars on my arms – people will absolutely assume you’re self harming if you’re wearing bandages on both arms. I bet the same parents complaining about tattoos would kick up a heck of a stink if they thought their child’s teacher was self harming…

        (I’m slowly getting my scars covered with tattoos, reclaiming my body :)

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          TLDR – more than one person (over a few years) went clear to the back office of a major US department store to complain about the appearance of a teenager at work to the store manager. My name as printed on my name tag was used in every complaint. Both the store manager and department manager absolutely had my back and no times for fools.

          Can verify. I couldn’t win for trying with horrible skin issues (allergic dermatitis, and spoiler, I am allergic to just about everything…it got better once they diagnosed the food protein allergies that were really causing the root problems!) as a teenager. They were NOT contagious and I had certifications from my doctor on file in the HR office.

          Complaints to the store manager about me when I didn’t cover the rash:
          1. I obviously had leprosy or some other contagious disease
          2. I obviously had poison ivy (irony here: I’m NOT allergic to poison ivy)
          3. I obviously had horrible psoriasis and I needed to be out of the public eye because it was just gross to look at.

          Complaints to the store manager when I DID cover the rash with bandages:
          1. I was obviously self harming
          2. I was obviously covering up tattoos

          In every case, demands were made that I be sent home from public view (seriously, who the eff raised these people?!?!).

          To his absolute and 100% credit, the store manager’s response to every bit of this nonsense was: It would be far better for you to mind your own business as my employee’s medical condition is none of yours. She is not contagious. If it bothers you to look at her, please leave.

          1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

            they thought you were covering tattoos and were offended by IMAGINING tattoos under the bandages? People are absolutely ridiculous.

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              Our guess as to this reaction was that I was very clearly a teenager and likely not old enough to have actually been tattooed legally in my state of residence. So I was a lawbreaker.

          2. Daisy Gamgee*

            Blessings upon that store manager! I don’t think any of my past managers would have stood up for their employees in a similar situation.

          3. CatBookMom*

            Brava! Bravo! for that store manager! So much sympathy, and a very good, supportive response to ignorant customer complaints.

            I developed really bad psoriasis in the 90s, all over my legs, my hands, forearms, when my job still required pumps and pantyhose. Some spots came and went, some were large and persistent, and showed even through colored pantyhose. This happened at the same time as perimenopause and hot flashes, so I was hard-pressed to look professional, with sweaty head, blotchy legs, etc., and I couldn’t always wear trousers. There were a lot of awkward moments when co-workers finally just had to ask.

            I am glad that some of the reasons for the skin issues have been isolated, and, hopefully, treatments are helping. Thank you for sharing this, and again, Bravo! Brava!

        2. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Honest question – and I’m impressed with the reclaiming process that you’re undergoing – how well are they working on scar tissue? I have a few areas from said skin condition that I’ve considered using tattoos to cover…

          1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

            I don’t have personal experience with tattoos over scar tissue, but I’m fairly involved with tattoo community. Some artists will work with scar tissue, some won’t, and you’d want to find someone experienced with tattooing scar tissue. From what I have heard, scars need to be as healed as possible first – ideally not raised at all, but I think some people do have tattoos over raised scars. There is a facebook group called “ask a professional tattoo artist” that might be able to give you some more specific advice for your skin!

          2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Scar tissue is considerably thicker than normal skin so it’s a deeper needle needed (as far as I know) which my artist is experienced in doing cover ups. However a lot of my tattoos mostly obscure the scars by having lines over them/making them look like part of the design rather than a total cover up.

      2. Clorinda*

        If you don’t have a skin condition when you start wearing bandages all day long, sometimes wet, you will quickly develop one.

    2. Loulou*

      I’m stuck on “must remove nose rings even though they’re covered by a mask”…what??? My workplace has had a ton of turnover since the pandemic started and I’m now realizing that I’ve literally never seen the noses of most people I work with regularly, and vice versa. This whole situation is the definition of borrowing trouble.

      1. Mongrel*

        I’d be OK with that one. If you accept the possibility of kids getting grabby at nose rings it’s not that much more of a step to them getting grabby at masks, especially if they’re pattererned

        1. Oska*

          Yeah, this sounds like good HSE, even if I haven’t thought of it in this setting before. Lots of places with machinery etc. have rules against jewelery that can get snagged/entangled, from piercings in various looped shapes to necklaces and bracelets. And machines are more predictable than children. (But they exert about the same amount of pulling force.)

          1. Forrest*

            I don’t think it’s a completely unreasonable policy, but the chances of a child managing to get a strong enough grip on a nosering or a stud/sleeper earring to do serious damage is very slim in my opinion, and probably about the same as a child managing to injure someone with a badly timed headbutt or something. Plenty of parents have them after all, and children are much more likely to react to a very high-pitched shriek of pain than machinery.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Seriously. Teachers wear earrings all the time and I’d think those are easier to pull out than a nose ring or anything pierced through cartilage.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                You would be surprised, I’ve heard some horror stories about the yanking of nose rings.

                Also most places who are worried about grabby kids will also say no to dangly or hoop earrings. It’s piercings that they can hang onto that are an issue.

                1. Clisby*

                  I haven’t heard any particular stories about nose rings, but when my nieces and nephews were really little, I removed non-stud earrings whenever I was around them. They absolutely would have yanked on hoop or dangly earrings.

                2. Myrin*

                  @Clisby, I absolutely did yank on my mum’s earrings when I was little and made her bleed by doing so. She never mentioned any outrageous injury but she only went back to wearing bigger earrings, like, fifteen years later or so (not because she thought fourteen-year-old me was likely to yank on her earrings, she just got used to it).

                3. Artemesia*

                  It is reasonable to ban dangly earrings and nose rings around little kids. Studs make a lot more sense in that setting. But not reasonable to insist they don’t wear a nose stud under the mask.

                4. Texan In Exile*

                  Any time I have seen a nose ring and an earring connected by a thin chain, I wince, because all I can think of is someone yanking on the chain.

                  And all my friends stopped wearing dangly earrings when their babies were infants.

                5. YetAnotherFed*

                  My mother is over 70 and I am almost 50 and she still won’t wear any earrings that aren’t stud-style because I pulled on her earrings when I was little.

              2. Anonymous4*

                A friend has some nasty scars on her earlobes due to dangling earrings and a toddler with fast hands. I hate to think of what would have happened if she’d had a nose ring. Ear lobes you can cover with hair, or with clip-on earrings. Noses? Not so much. (I’m presuming that we WILL eventually get done with wearing masks . . . one day . . . )

                1. Loulou*

                  Right, but OP already mentioned switching out their rings for studs. I think you’d need much finer motor skills than a day care aged child to yank out a well-fitted stud. This doesn’t seem to have a safety justification since OP was clearly amenable to the safety concerns raised by their previous employer.

              3. Coconutty*

                I mean, I also would not advise wearing large or dangly earrings while working with young children, and most of my coworkers generally do the same. There’s also a risk difference between a parent with one or two young children and teachers who are constantly wrangling 15 or so toddlers. It’s simply practical.

          2. Lenora Rose*

            Frankly I think a “no-nose-rings lest a kid pull it” rule makes MORE sense than a policy that says “Office staff having to walk through the factory floor to reach the cafeteria, on a clearly yellow marked path at least a metre from any part of any machine, and further from any part that can snag loose jewellery, may not wear any jewellery at all, not even a flat ring, while walking through this non-optional path.”

            Or maybe I STILL resent losing my wedding ring.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I had a coworker who covered his leg tattoo with a bandage, and would tell students he’d been bitten by a shark or other silly explanations. One time a kid saw him in public without the bandage and was SO excited that his leg had healed! Didn’t even notice the tattoo :)

      It’s almost as if tattoos aren’t inherently inappropriate around children or at work!

      1. An0n*

        My partner is a teacher and previously worked in early childhood education and has tattoos. Nothing huge, nothing inappropriate in content, I don’t think kids ever comment on it. It’s really a non issue here (public schools in Australia).

        That said, back when I was in school in a religious private school I imagine a teacher having a tattoo would’ve been very scandalous. I’m glad things are changing

    4. Quoth the Raven*

      It certainly brings more attention to whatever it is you’re trying to hide.

      I have a tattoo on my wrist (Simba from The Lion King). When I worked as an elementary school teacher, I used to cover it with an elastic wristband similar to the ones used by tennis players, and the kids would always ask if I was wearing it because my wrist hurt, or if I had gotten injured, or asked if I could take it off and let them check it out. But the days I forgot it no one ever seemed to notice the tattoo! The only kid to ever mention it was a 6th grader who saw it when I reached out for something off a top shelf, and he just said it was cool.

      1. Renata Ricotta*

        I love that the wristband was a distraction while your specific tattoo is PARTICULARLY kid-appropriate! Tattoo rules are just so ridiculous.

      2. Christina*

        It was going on fifteen years ago that my kids were in elementary school and one of the teachers had a belly button ring. From the howling of the suburban mothers, you’d think the woman had put a pole in her third grade classroom and started an exotic dance routine. And she’s a third grade teacher – the only time anyone gets a glimpse of a belly button ring on a third grade teacher is when she reaches for something and her shirt rides up a bit.

        (This was the era of low riders and belly button rings….so this did happen from time to time).

    5. Laura*

      Because children won’t become curious at all if you look like The Mummy or as if you have a horrible skin disease, or multiple ferret bites, or whatever.

      Also, if ones wear bandages on one’s hands, for hygiene resaons the bandages have to be washed instead of (or in addition to) the hands. Which takes a lot longer, and also a lot longer to dry. So, not just ludicrous, but “on what planet does that make anything resembling sense?”

      Gloves might do, but one would need about a dozen of them for an average day, and then wash them overnight.

    6. SLAS*

      Yeah – as a parent I’d be MUCH more concerned about a staff member in perpetual arm-length bandages than about tattoos.

    7. Run mad; don't faint*

      I think that would be more likely to scare the children and concern the parents than the actual tattoos.

    8. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      And going thru new bandages every wash. Which in a toddler room is every time you turn around. I’d make the daycare supply them. Oh, out of bandages? I have a visible tattoo due to my short sleeve shirt. Shall I clock out and go home until you replenish the bandages? I’d hate to scar little minds or upset parents.

  4. Ghosts*

    LW1, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. It’s 2022; people have tattoos!

    Maybe try saying something like “I’m confused and sorry about why it’s coming down to this, but I will obviously not be covering my wrists with bandages on a daily basis so that no one can see my plant tattoos. If this policy is set in stone then I clearly cannot work here, so let’s talk about what needs to happen to take me out of your system and get me paid for my first day.” If they’re willing to lose a qualified and highly competent employee because of their outdated, old fashioned, and frankly pretty racist tattoo policy, I don’t think that’s a place you would have ended up happy at anyway.

    1. Worldwalker*

      Not just her wrists. *Her entire arms*. The wrists are just what would be getting wet several times a day.

      Nothing about the OP’s tattoos would conflict with the school being “a safe place, free from gang activity” so the administration is both clueless (why wouldn’t they just reassure parents that they did background checks and did not hire gang members?) and thoughtless. Not a good place to work.

      1. Salymander*

        Yes. Such ridiculousness. Are they trying to please a few vocal narrow-minded parents, or are they just really silly and controlling?

        Could be like a nanny agency that I interviewed with and ultimately decided not to work with because they were terrible and the parents that employed their service were even worse. The agency wanted all their nannies to look as “upper class” as possible. Their words, not mine. We were supposed to dress like we worked in an office, which is totally impractical for running around after small children. So, we were told to wear business casual to work as a nanny unless we were required by the family to wear a uniform. No tattoos, no piercings except for a single hole in each earlobe for women only. They discouraged us from wearing a wedding ring. They asked whether my parents were divorced and when I asked why they told me that they can charge more for a nanny who doesn’t come from a broken home. The person interviewing me for the agency recommended that I wear only white bras and underwear, lest the mothers looking for a nanny think I was trying to flirt with their husbands. I went for a few interviews, mostly to see what sort of people these were who employed this draconian nightmare of an agency. It was bad. Very bad. One family had me play monopoly with their son while they watched us on the nanny cams and yelled comments to us. That was the interview. The kid cheated horribly, threw whole grain crackers and organic strawberries across the room, and kicked me in the shin. Before I could tell him to stop kicking me, the parents came in to shake my hand and congratulate me for passing their test because I didn’t make him stop cheating. They were ready to hire me right there. It was annoying, but actually pretty funny in retrospect.

    2. MEH Squared*

      I agree with all of this. I have a rather noticeable tattoo on my left forearm of flames and thorns on a ‘bracelet’. I don’t hide it and I would be upset if I got all the way through an interview and accepting a job, only to be informed my tattoo was unacceptable. Covering your tats with bandages on a daily basis? Come on! And, yes, the mention of gang tattoos is a racist dog whistle. I don’t think you did anything wrong in this situation and would not blame you for objecting (and possibly leaving).

    3. Wendy*

      This, so much. With the labor market the way it is, they’ve already invested a lot of time into bringing you on board and they’re much less likely to throw that away over something this minor than they might have been in years past when they would have been swamped with talented people applying for every job opening. And “gang tattoos?” REALLY?

      I think the gang thing can be your in, maybe – because OBVIOUSLY your tats aren’t gang-related, they’re not something that would scare a child, and there’s no reasonable way for you to actually keep them completely covered while you work. If it were me, I’d plan on wearing long-sleeve shirts (without bandages), rolling up my sleeves when washing my hands like I’d normally do, and act like of course their tattoo rule doesn’t apply to me because mine aren’t gang tattoos and I’m wearing long sleeves. Could they still make a big deal of it? Yeah, possibly… but then you’re no worse off than you are now, right? And if you’re lucky, you can just bluff your way into everyone pretending this is what you agreed to in the first place.

      1. TechWorker*

        Depending on the climate where they live tho even committing to wearing long sleeves might be pretty rubbish.

        1. Salymander*

          True. My town is really hot almost all year around. It is 70° F in winter. From March to early November, it is between 80° and 115° F, so it is super hot almost all the time. Requiring long sleeves in the climate here would be cruel.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        Yes, to be honest if I were OP this is what I would actually do (although not the advice someone would give from a professional advice column, of course). Having just quit my prior job I am not eager to quit on my first day. I’d wear or bring long sleeves every day, maybe some of those thumb sleeve shirts, but then I’d do whatever I wanted, rolling them up or hand washing as usual, and see if anyone actually complains or says anything. If not, and I like the job, great. If I’m actually stopped by the management, I’d point to my long sleeves (or point to the sweater at my desk and say, sorry, I forgot). At least you bought yourself a little more time to job search if they’re actually going to enforce it. If they actually write you up or fire you for this, I guess try to have a best argument you can for unemployment – at least you didn’t quit voluntarily.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Oh right I forgot about the piercings. That’s a bit tougher I think. Event the more discrete studs are still in violation of the policy and if you’re ever un-masked will be noticed. (I’d probably still try though … the fact that your interviewer didn’t connect the dots when they saw you makes me hope this might be a policy on the books that’s not really being enforced). And again, practically, if this was me, I’d want to buy myself as much time on the job as I could, and hope for severance or something, not voluntarily part ways on my first day and be unemployed.

      3. comityoferrors*

        It sounds like long sleeves are acceptable (“…and I would need to wear long sleeves or wrap my arms with cloth bandages at all times…”), so…yeah. Except I would plan on wearing long sleeves while furiously job-searching, personally. It sounds like OP might be at that point too, so I encourage toeing the line within reason (sleeves but not stressing overly much about coverage until/unless administration starts bringing down the hammer) and finding a new position.

        I wonder if this is one of those situations where most of the jobs are filled until next semester because it’s education, though. Fingers crossed that OP can quickly move somewhere that 1) respects their right to self-expression and 2) doesn’t mislead or lie to them about the expectations.

        1. anne of mean gables*

          I just commented below, but there is a massive shortage of daycare workers pretty much across the US. If my town is any indication, she could walk into any daycare and get hired within the week. There is basically a bidding war for daycare workers amongst my local daycares (except with a ceiling on salary because the economics of running a daycare are terrible). The one my kid is at is going through their budget with a fine-tooth comb to find extra money to give raises to retain staff. It’s terrifying as a parent (daycares are shutting down for want of staff) but I’m hopeful for OP.

          1. Anon because I'm being specific*

            Right? My daycare would be *thrilled* for a teacher coming off a 5 year previous position to apply and they’d have that teacher working as soon as the background check cleared. “Tattoos? Cool! Just be aware the kids may draw all over their arms to be like you*, but you’ve been a teacher for years and obviously already know this.”

            *My daughter did this when one of her teachers had tattoos and I thought it said a lot about how much she liked that teacher!

        2. Artemesia*

          This. I’d get those sleeve things that are sold to cover tattoos or wear long sleeve shirts (screw ‘bandages’ — that is truly nuts). And. would immediately begin a job search and leave with minimal notice letting them know that their bait and switch ‘policy’ made it impossible to work there. And never put them on the resume. Day care workers are in demand.

          1. Hazel*

            OMG, this reminded me – OP could get sleeves that are meant to look like tattoos! Like for a costume. That would be hilarious! “I’m wearing long sleeves…” I am very amused by this possibility.

      4. anne of mean gables*

        I would honestly be appalled if I knew my daycare had this policy for their teachers (happily, I know that they don’t, because the daycare director has visible tattoos). It’s unbelievably asinine, particularly given the current staffing shortage at daycares pretty much across the country – daycares in my town are shutting down rooms or closing entirely for want of staff. I hope OP lives in a place where she can go down the road and get hired by a place that cares about the experience and character of their staff, not their aesthetics.

    4. allathian*

      Yeah, absolutely. There’s a chronic lack of employees in your field, so I hope you’ll be able to find another job fairly quickly, LW1.

      You really shouldn’t have to cover your tattoos or nose rings in 2022! I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I really recommend confirming the dress code on tattoos and piercings next time you get an offer. Interviews are a two-way process, and you’re free to turn down employers that require you to hide your visible tattoos.

    5. Myrin*

      I really like this script but it highlights something I don’t see mentioned in the letter:

      OP, are you, in the end, willing to comply with these rules and stay at this job and you were really just musing and wondering in general, or are you unwilling to work for such an organisation and looking for ways to make it clear to them that they are going to lose you if they hold firm?

      Both of these stances are valid, especially since we don’t know why you left your last place of work in the first place and what positives there might be to this place apart from their tattoo policy.

      I’m only mentioning this because all through reading your letter, I was thinking for sure that your would ask about scripts exactly like Ghosts suggests, for how to go about resigning or pointing out that you will resign over this or similar, but then you actually ended with some general questions which made it sound to me like you’re willing to stick this out.
      FWIW, looking at the shortages in your field, I’d guess you might have a pretty good chance with at least trying to combat this but I could understand if you said it’s not worth it to you, in either direction.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good point. In a very rural area there may not be a lot of options. And in mon-rural there may be a few options that have better vonditions/pay than others.
        But if there are options, OP should remember that a short-term job can just be left off the resume….even if used to answer ‘why did you leave your last job?”

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, before moving forward you need to know whether this is a dealbreaker for you–which would be very reasonable if they won’t budge. How easy would it be to return to your previous employer or find a new job? Are you okay financially if you have to have some time off while you look for a new job immediately or do you need to stay at this one for now and then start a new job hunt quietly? I think the answers to those questions impact how firm you want to be with them.

        If you are willing to potentially lose this job over this policy I would honestly just refuse to comply with it. Say you are excited about the job but that they did not inform you the tattoos would be a problem and you will of course not be able to cover them every day and then just don’t. Depending on how much they don’t want to go through the hiring process again they *might* find that the policy is suddenly miraculously less firm than they originally claimed.

    6. rolly*


      Banger attitude with a great script.

      Also, if they backtrack and loosen the policy, get it in writing. “Thanks so much, can you confirm that for in an email for my records and future clarity.”

    7. Chili pepper Attitude*

      I came here to ask if OP #1 was going to quit over this. I think I would over just the inconvenience factor but the attitude reflected in the policy and how they handled it would make me even more reluctant to stay.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      OP2, I think the current job market in your field is exactly why this center’s major job requirement accidentally went unmentioned until you had already given and worked out the notice at your previous job.

      In other fields this is when they would mention “Of course you can’t work from home for the first six months” or some other dealbreaker.

      1. Colette*

        I actually wonder whether they realized the OP had the tattoos and piercing – if she was wearing a jacket and mask during the interview, they might not have been visible.

        1. Anonymous4*

          I very much think they saw them. The HR rep went over EVERYTHING in the school’s policy handbook — except the part about tattoos.

          And I think that they figured that once OP was hired and in the school, OP would just . . . go along with it! Make the tattoos magically disappear. Wear bandages! Conform to the policy!

          I’m wondering why HR doesn’t seem to be considering that teachers are in short supply. Do they really have so many applicants that they can afford to discard a highly qualified employee on account of some harmless decorations?

          1. Observer*

            I’m betting that they think that the OP is “stuck”. Which…. not so much.

            And I’m sure their HR grouses about how “no one wants to work anymore”

          2. Still trying to adult*

            But draconian and petty rules are what some employers live to make! (or, so it seems in my experience). It often doesn’t matter that the rules are way out of touch with reality; like ‘tattoos’ means ‘automatically gang related’ or ‘POC’ are ‘always lazy/shifty/up to no good’

            If I were LW#1, I’d still be very upset with the whole thing, and (assuming that they left the previous place on good terms) I’d be contacting them about coming back.

            The process involved going over the appearance policy EXCEPT FOR THE TATTOO & PIERCINGS part!

            I find this borderline abusive on the company’s part; I’d be worried they’ll start finding other things to nitpick about, and just make life hell.

            Their policy on tattoos makes me think of the saying: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

            Run, Forrest, Run

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I also wonder if OP can go back to her old job. Seems like that would be the easiest thing to do if she doesn’t want to stay there. Of course, it might put her in the front for layoffs but from what you all are saying about staffing shortages that wouldn’t be anytime soon, would it?

        2. Lizzy May*

          I think the fact that they reviewed the entire dress code except this one point means they knew and wanted to get OP into the job before springing the news.

          1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

            What’s their game plan, though? Why waste all this time on a candidate? Will they end up with an employee?

            OP might theoretically be willing and able to remove the piercing and let the hole close (not saying they should, but it’s at least possible the employer thought they might do that). But it’s not like OP is going to go get their tattoos removed for this one job. And the bandages idea is laughably unworkable.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              I think everyone is understandably focusing very heavily on the bandages thing, but the first suggestion they actually gave was long sleeves. I would assume that that’s what they actually had in mind, with bandages being the kind of back-up option if some situation arose where you absolutely could not wear long sleeves.

              I’m not at all suggesting that expecting someone to wear long sleeves at all times is a good or reasonable expectation (a couple of my colleagues are expected to do that and it’s horrid for them in the summer) but I think that’s what they actually had in mind rather than bandages or tattoo removal as the main solution. Still shitty but not as immediately insane.

              1. Rhoda*

                Long sleeves might work for an office job. But for something practical it’s much more hygeinic to wear short sleeves, for ease of handwashing and not gathering germs on your wrists.

            2. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Because it is incredibly difficult for daycares to get employees right now, and even if OP leaves after a day or 3 days or a week, it’s that long that there’s a body in that classroom. They’re probably constantly hiring and it’s unlikely they turned down someone else when they offered OP the job.

              That is literally how bad it is at our daycare right now (and they do not have this type of policy because we’ve had teachers with tattoos and piercings) according to our director. They are DESPERATE for employees, to the point that they are giving quarterly bonuses for showing up.

          2. Colette*

            Why would they deliberately try to hire someone who will leave as soon as they’re able to do so? How does that benefit them?

            1. Observer*

              They don’t realize that the OP could walk tomorrow. They think that the OP is “stuck” with the job now, and are incapable of worrying about the long term.

            2. FridayFriyay*

              A lot of employers are used to overplaying their hand and have not really absorbed what the current job market means for those sorts of games. They are used to working with employees who are desperate and trapped.

            3. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Because it’s a person in that classroom until they leave. Staffing really is that desperate right now at daycares (see my comment above).

        3. Observer*

          I actually wonder whether they realized the OP had the tattoos and piercing>

          I think it is VERY unlikely that they “missed” it. If the OP can’t wash hands without soaking a bandage that means that they are going pretty low. Also, they WENT OVER THE APPEARANCE POLICY and THEY SKIPPED ONE PIECE – THE ONE ABOUT TATTOOS I can’t emphasize this enough. It just is not credible at all they “accidentally” skipped the ONE item that would have presented a problem “by mistake”.

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      Yup. In this labor market, if I were OP I’d just wear the short sleeves and the nose rings and dare management (not out loud) to write me up for it. And I’d be job hunting again either way.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Exactly what I was thinking. It’s unlikely they’re going to fire OP with such a labor shortage. I vote for her to just quietly wear what she wants.

    10. Roy G. Biv*

      Maybe I am cynical – but I think the interviewer did not go over the tattoo/piercing stuff on purpose, because they really need LW 1 on staff. HR figured “If they accept the job they can’t back out later because of the dress code. They will just have to get on board with wearing long sleeves and removing the piercings.”

      1. Still trying to adult*

        Agreed. This is a fight looking for a place to happen, and HR thinks they have all the weapons. LW#1 has their own weapons: Make a stink, force the issue, flaunt their tattoos, throw it in their face that the tattoo policy was NEVER discussed but they were plainly visible, and finally , the ultimate weapon: “I quit. Your crazy quotient is too high for my mental health”

    11. sacados*

      Agreed, if this was simply a case of “we ask people with arm tattoos to wear long sleeves,” well that might be something OP would be on board with and doesn’t seem *quite* so much of an overstep. But it sounds like they want OP to erase her tattoos from existence– like, she’s not even allowed to roll up her long sleeves to wash hands because the tattoos would be briefly visible.
      Which, that part is nuts.
      If OP does want to stay at this job, hopefully they would at least compromise on the fact that a part of a tattoo might momentarily be showing when washing hands or reaching for something. Sheesh.

    12. Alice's Rabbit*

      Eh. It’s not an uncommon policy in education and childcare. I’m honestly shocked OP hasn’t run into it before. It’s certainly been the policy at every school I’ve worked with, and is why all the teachers and bus drivers I know have had enough foresight to only get tattoos that are easily covered.

  5. Loulou*

    I’m torn about the script for #4. Something about “I didn’t realize I hadn’t confirmed…” sounds off to me — I’d interpret that as “I thought I responded but didn’t,” which would make me question OP’s organizational skills in a way that doesn’t actually seem warranted by what they describe in the letter. But I don’t see a way of saying “I thought this was one of those emails that didn’t require a response” that doesn’t belabor the point or cause further confusion, so maybe best to say nothing or just graciously thank the rep for rescheduling?

    But it’s so much weirder that the rep didn’t followup that my best guess is: SHE missed that OP hadn’t responded, noticed 10 minutes before when she went to join the meeting, and hastily rescheduled. It makes no sense to leave confirming the interview time to 10 minutes before otherwise.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, my thoughts were exactly the same as your first paragraph – the proposed script makes the OP sound scatterbrained when there was simply a mismatch in expectations around communication. I feel like the only thing to say would be something along the lines of “I’m so sorry, I thought with you sending the original email, the date would already be set in stone and I didn’t realise you were waiting for an explicit confirmation” but even that comes across as a bit cumbersome and if used at all, would probably be best brought up verbally during your interview instead of in writing.

      1. Wry*

        I feel like even cutting it down to “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were waiting on explicit confirmation!” would suffice, and isn’t too cumbersome.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is even worse as it implies that you don’t know that you need to close the loop in a business conversation on email. The OP screwed up here and the employer didn’t handle it very well either — vague is the way to go.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree–I kind feel like it would be better to just not mention it? Is there really a benefit to bringing it up now? Sometimes emails just don’t get seen, which is why she should have followed up with OP earlier. I think there was a bit of a communication breakdown on both ends but none of it is a huge deal at this point and the interview is now rescheduled and moving forward so I would vote to just move on and commit to clear communication for the rest of the process.

    3. anonymous73*

      I agree. And this is partially on the recruiter. If she needed a confirmation, she should have said that. And if she didn’t receive one, she should have sent a second email asking you to confirm, not just rescheduled the interview.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yes the recruiter should have followed up, but there is no mystery that one needs to confirm an appointment like this. The OP made a mistake here; you always confirm an interview.

  6. ZK*

    OP #1, I’m so sorry you were treated this way. I’m honestly amazed there are still such rules on tattoos out there. Gang related, or inappropriate in some other way, fine, sure you don’t want those showing, but anything else is just over-reaction. Your ink sounds gorgeous. I have a small tattoo on my wrist. It’s a typical love heart, the date of my heart attack and my own (now healthy) heartbeat, it’s on my wrist because it’s next to my stent scar. If anyone tried to tell me it was inappropriate and needed to be covered, AFTER I quit a previous job to work for them, I’d be super peeved and absolutely job searching again.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, what struck me is that this is apparently based on something which was brought in “several years ago” – given that it’s early years it’s likely that the parents who complained then are no longer using the program and there’s no real reason to suppose that current clients would have similar prejudices, nor any reason why the policy can’t be amended – maybe to say that staff may be required to cover up tattoos which are offensive or depict violent or sexual imagery, for example .

      (Where I work, we did at one time (I’ve been here 20 years and its a conservative industry) have a no visible tattoos policy. We now have a dress code / policy which simply states that you must be dressed neatly and professionally, and your appearance generally must be such that you are comfortable meeting with clients. We have several staff members which have tattoos which are or may be visible – most are fairly small – e.g. on an ankle or wrist . I am fairly sure that we have a couple of people who have nasal piercings but I am not sure because it really doesn’t matter .)

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Lol my workplace’s dress code is also “you need to wear something you’re comfortable meeting clients in” but joke’s on them I’d be comfortable meeting clients in just about anything. Ballgown, skimpy going-out outfit, etc.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          (Don’t worry, though, my actual style is vintage-influenced business casual and I’m usually a little overdressed compared to the rest of the office.)

    2. Esmeralda*

      You know what, even gang-related is ok, as long as the words or images aren’t inappropriate for small children to see. It’s the kind of rule that means people who make poor decisions (or who don’t have many options) when they’re young, are punished for years afterwards even if they’ve changed.

      Anyway, it’s a ridiculous rule. Kids are going to see tattoos on shoppers at the grocery store!

      1. Hazel*

        I agree! Also, what exactly does a gang tattoo look like? How would children know that a tattoo is gang-related? And what does the employer mean by gang-related? I don’t think this policy can stand up to scrutiny.

    3. anonymous73*

      Let me preface this by saying that I think the policy is crap, but how exactly do you decide what tattoos are appropriate and what tattoos are not? If you don’t have any policy against tattoos, and someone is hired that has one that is personally offensive to someone, do you tell that person to go pound sand and get over it, or do you tell the tattooed person to cover up? It’s a slippery slope without a strict policy (that again I don’t agree with). Quite honestly I wouldn’t want to work at a place that goes right to “gang related tattoos” as their reasoning, and seems to create rules based on irrational parents who want to shelter little Susie from all the “bad” things in life.

      1. Laney Boggs*

        It really isn’t?? No violence, no nudity/lewd figures , no profanity, no obvious hate/gang symbols (swastika comes to mind).

        Thats all quite simple and goes under the blanket of “offensive” with enough room that you could also say “you do need to cover up the Marijuana leaf tattoo, Chad.”

        1. Kaittydid*

          Yep! One guy I worked with needed to cover his pin up girl forearm tattoo. He grumbled about the little sleeve thing in the heat, but seemed to agree that his ink wasn’t for everyone. Basically, if you couldn’t hang the art on your cube wall you should cover it while at work. It’s not that complicated.

          1. A*

            I started out my career in an industry that was fairly laid back and tended to attract people from all walks of life. We hired a salesperson who we knew had full sleeve tattoos, but it wasn’t until summer and he showed up in a short sleeve shirt for the first time that we discovered he had a fairly provocative pinup girl tattoo (technically clothed, but thong & pasties kinda deal). Since he was in a customer facing role the owner let him know it would be problematic, and asked how he wanted to handle it. Salesperson said he was going to handle it. Came back the next week and he had gotten a dress tattooed on her. It was brilliant. It’s been almost a decade, and it still makes me smile.

        2. anonymous73*

          It’s not as simple as you might think. What is or isn’t appropriate is subjective and will involve a lot of opinions. I’ve been on committees that made low key decisions and it didn’t matter how careful you were about rules and policies, somebody would always find something wrong with it.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            But you don’t have to write it so that someone looks over the list and says “ah, yup, right there they say I can’t have a knife decapitating a puppy.” You write something like “no tattoos that may be perceived as insulting, offensive, or demeaning.” Then when someone comes to you and says “John has a tattoo of roses” you tell the complainer to pound sand. When someone comes to you and says “Susan has a tattoo of a knife decapitating a puppy” you tell Susan that needs to be covered up.

          2. Starbuck*

            Part of making the decision is deciding how much you care if someone dissents. Sometimes people can have their opinions but they don’t actually need to matter. If one parent opposes someone’s Disney character tattoo because their kids aren’t allowed to watch Disney cartoons for whatever reason? Well, that’s just too bad, it’s not in our policy and it’s not a reason we care about enough to take action against.

      2. FridayFriyay*

        I agree with Laney about the pentameters. It is no different than most other types of similar policies. Otherwise you are leaving the door open to truly ridiculous and offensive claims, like that a gay pride tattoo isn’t appropriate and that is just… wrong.

      3. Awesome Sauce*

        It’s pretty straightforward. Any content that’s NSFW is NSFW, whether it’s a tattoo, photo, shirt, whatever.

      4. Ana Gram*

        So my employer does this. As part of the application process, visible tattoos are reviewed and applicants are told if they can display them, not display them, or not work here. It’s subjective but you know well in advance. Want to get a new visible tattoo after you work here? There’s a form to request it. I haven’t heard of anyone being turned down in the 8?9? years we’ve had the form.

    4. Happy Grouch*

      Sometimes something gets so deeply ingrained into a companies culture no one questions it ever again or even realizes it might be problematic, not a general standard or outdated.
      That’s not an excuse of course. Just the most likely explanation.

  7. Observer*

    #1 – To be honest, if I could, I’d be finding out if I could go back to the center I had been working at. If that were not possible, I would most definitely be looking for a new job.

    To be honest, I suspect that they were acting in bad faith. They didn’t notice your tattoos? If they are that unobtrusive, then they shouldn’t be a problem now, no? Also, if the director felt the need to cover all of the appearance policies it’s interesting, and not in a good way, that somehow that was the one thing that was “overlooked.”

    1. MK*

      Their policy sucks, but I don’t see what they had to gain by intentionally hiring someone who would probably leave as soon as they could. They can’t have thought the OP would agree to wear bandages daily.

      1. Jen*

        And wear bandages in a job working with young children which requires a LOT of hand washing. Bandages would be burdensome to replace each timem

        1. Momma Bear*

          Not just handwashing but little kids are messy in general. You might get a lot more on those bandages than you want over the course of a day. Way less sanitary than bare skin.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        The policy also mentions long sleeves as an option, so I think they most likely did assume that once OP was in the job she would just agree to wear long sleeves. They probably thought the policy would be offputting enough that they didn’t bring it up, but didn’t think it would be a big enough deal for her to actively quit a job that she had invested all this time/effort in – kind of a sunk cost thing.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I suspect that you are right. If it was the only one they didn’t cover then it’s hard to see it as an oversight.

          OP, unless there is something else that makes you want this specific job, I would look elsewhere.

          However, I do wonder whether in the you can just dress normally – and if challenged explain that it wasn’t raised when all of the other dress code elements were dealt with in interview when your tattoos were readily visible, and it is not practical to cover them given the hygiene requirements.

          They assume that you will comply rather than leave, maybe do the reverse – assume that they aren’t going to actually fire you, they’re just hoping you will cave.
          (Obviously this would only be workable if you can afford to risk losing the job if they decide t is a deal breaker for them, but given how much in demand your skills are right now, I suspect that you could find another job a lot more easily than they will be able to find another you.

          1. Antilles*

            Your third paragraph is exactly what I was thinking too – basically ignore the policy and let them be the ones to bring it up.

      3. Shiba Dad*

        They may have realized that if they tell LW about their policy before hiring, LW would likely not take the job. They calculated that after hiring, LW would just comply with the policy.

        Or these people are morons. Could be either, really.

      4. EPLawyer*

        Yes yes they could. A LOT of employers have not noticed the shift in the employer-employee relationship. They still think, well she quit her job to come here, what is she going to do LEAVE and find another job?

        It’s why they waited until OP was onboarded to bring up the no tattoo thing. They thought they would leave OP with no choice but to comply.

  8. cryptid*

    LW 3, you might also qualify for short term disability, which isn’t full pay but is better than nothing. I’d like to gently caution that I had a frankly ideal top surgery (no drains, back to work in a very physical job in 3 weeks) and I would absolutely not have been able to work 3 days after, in any capacity. I could barely stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time for the first 3-4 days – it’s a lot to heal from! By day 4 or 5 I was able to at least sit up (instead of reclining only), but I couldn’t really concentrate on anything for another few days. If it’s at all possible, try to take more than just 2-3 days off before you wfh.

    1. Wendy*

      I have heard this from friends who have top surgery, too – that even past the “expected” recovery time, it took them a few days to get back to 100%. OP, I know you said you can’t afford to take the time unpaid, but is there any chance you can use the time between now and then to save up a bit? Just in case you end up having to take more time than you planned? Maybe that’s not possible – and your finances are nobody’s business but your own – but a day or two of wages would be more than worth the relief of not having to worry about a commute (wearing a seatbelt, ow!) right after surgery!

      1. Ermintrude*

        Last year I had a pacemaker inserted. The surgery was relatively minor especially compared to ‘top’ surgery but I wasn’t up for much for a week or so. Maybe OP 3 should find a way to rest up for longer because surgery does quite a number.
        Best wishes and congratulations on the upcoming surgery.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Pacemaker fistbump! I also got one last year, and am considering getting top surgery and kind of went “oh god, it’s going to be like this only more so and on both sides and that’s going to suuuuck”.

          I was able to work from home while recovering and that was particularly nice since even after I was mostly feeling better, shirts were still *terrible*. You don’t realize just how much you use your shoulders for everything.

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            But once it’s done, it’s done and if you aren’t happy with your current chest, it’s sooooooooooo wonderful. I was on the fence for a long time and finally went for it last year, and I’m thrilled with the outcome.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        OP3 did say they get Thanksgiving week off, and are planning to add a few more days to that, so it should be OK? A whole week better at least.

    2. Jen*

      Yeah, my advice is never to underestimate any surgery. I got knocked out for a week from what was supposed to be an extremely minor procedure and top surgery is not minor at all. You should be taking it easy physically for weeks.

      I get this is being forced by LW’s employer really offering insufficient leave, but try to find a way to pad it, LW. You could really get hurt coming back too soon.

      1. Oasl*

        Agreed. I had a common dental surgery years ago that I went into thinking it was no big deal. Loads of people get it and I was allowed to go home as soon as I woke up.

        It hit me hard. I definitely couldn’t have worked three days afterwards, and I had to manage my energy very carefully for about a month afterwards. Remember that brain work is still work, and even without a commute, you might not be able to work a standard length day.

    3. Atheling*

      Very much seconding all of this. When I had top surgery the actual thing went smoothly; I got a minor, common complication afterwards (cleared up fine.) I ended up off work for four weeks. For the first two of those I was sleeping 12+ hours a day and if I needed a shower that was all I’d get done.

      I’m in the UK so very different medical and work norms, but I physically could not have done my job for at least a fortnight.

    4. Dutchie*

      Yeah, the anesthesia did a number on my brain and it took me quite some time before I could actually focus on something for quite some time again.

      But I also don’t think I would have physically been able to use a computer in the first week. I couldn’t extend my arms that far!

      1. cryptid*

        Yeah, I think it was mostly just anesthesia recovery those first few days. I had a revision 3 years later and the surgery was very chill all things considered (I was okay to drive 4 days after), but I was still wiped out the first two after just from anesthesia.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Usually you have to sign up for short term disability 12 months in advance for many things (pregnancy, pre-existing conditions) so this Thanksgiving would already be too late for STDI if the LW doesn’t already have it.

      1. OutofOffice*

        It’s possible if it’s provided by the employer; it is in some cases. I had maybe a month or two of notice before a needed and unexpected surgery, and had no problem signing up. I think I got full pay for up to 6 weeks. I know YMMV, but it’s still worth it for LW to look into. (And I’m not even sure how one would apply 12 months in advance for pregnancy!)

      2. LizB*

        Wait, you have to sign up for short term disability 12 months in advance? Do you mean you have to add it to your benefits during open enrollment? Or that you have to say, 12 months in advance, “I will be taking this benefit next year?” If it’s the latter, how does anyone ever take it? I’m pretty sure most people don’t know their expected due date 12 months ahead of time… pregnancy is pretty famously a 9-10 month process, and you can’t reliably pick which month you’ll start it.

        1. nona*

          If you get it thru work, you sign up at open enrollment

          If you get it on your own, maybe there’s a duration in which you are committing to pay the premiums, or a blackout for receiving benefits? I think the expectation is that you have short-disability coverage *just in case* you need it – or you expect to need it for pregnancy or something in the next year or so. Its not really something you sign up for after the event that is going to cause the need for it? The insurance company wouldn’t have much of a business model if you could pay $5/mth to receive $800/mth (or whatever 60-100% of your monthly income is). So I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a time commitment aspect to having coverage.

        2. doreen*

          It’s not necessarily a matter of an open enrollment period – but it’s also not that you need to know 12 months in advance that you will need the leave. My employer did not offer short term disability benefits. I could buy the insurance through my union, but I wasn’t restricted to signing up during an open enrollment period and could sign up at any time. If I signed up for it last month, I would not have been covered for any disability related to a pre-existing condition until January 2023 – and that would include a pregnancy that I received medical treatment for in December 2021.

        3. not a HR rep*

          No, not always. Many employers offer a basic short term disability package with full pay as part of your benefits. If you want extended or additional benefits, you can sometimes sign up during the yearly open enrolment period, for the additional benefits. I have not heard of someone being denied core STD because they didn’t know 12 months in advance they would need it. But for extended STD coverage (continuing at full pay) before it switches to LTD (reduced pay) or FMLA (no pay) yes many times you do need to sign up for that in advance during open enrolment.

      3. turquoisecow*

        No, not true. I had to have surgery a few years back and I scheduled it maybe two or three months in advance? It was definitely not a year. I think I was out 6-8 weeks and HR had no problem with it.

        Also plenty of people take short term disability for maternity leave (especially if their employer doesn’t offer paid leave outside of vacation/sick time), which is definitely not scheduled a year in advance.

      4. cryptid*

        That’s definitely not my experience! I applied the week of my surgery and received pay within weeks. That said, I’m in California and I’m sure it varies by state.

        1. Librarian*

          Doesn’t Cali have state-sponsored STDI, as in, not via employer? A friend used to live there and had 3 kids during that time; she used STDI via state benefits for her mat. leaves. I think employer-based plans have more rules/restrictions.

    6. Jack Be Nimble*

      Seconding. I had a more-typical top surgery (and my drains stayed in longer than anticipated). I could have theoretically started working from home after about ten days, but it would have been pretty miserable.

      Most people I know have been told two weeks’ recovery time from top surgery, a return to remote work after 2 weeks, and a return to in-person at 4, with a weight restriction until week 6. Your recovery timeline might be different based on the surgeon/exact procedure, so I’d get those details from them before I raised it with my workplace. You don’t need to go into details, you can just say “I’m going to have a surgery that will require me to be out for at least X weeks, how do we typically handle medical leave?”

      Good luck and congratulations!

      1. amberlynn*

        This matches what I have seen with friends who’ve gotten top surgery. ~2 weeks of extended rest/no work. Then maybe ~2 weeks limited time back if options are available (reduced hours, part time, remote, no driving). No heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for ~6 weeks. It’s not like getting a boil lanced, LW #3. It’s a big surgery. They will absolutely tell you no driving for a while.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          I was back full time remote 2 weeks after top surgery and it was fine, but if I could have taken three or four weeks I absolutely would have. LW3, let me add to the crowd – the first week especially is *debilitating* and you will be tired, sore, cranky, itchy, brainfoggy (from pain, anesthesia, and The Good Drugs), and you aren’t able to lift your elbows away from your waist. I knew what was coming and I still had no idea – it’s really hard to imagine yourself as weak and helpless as you will be, post-surgery.

          Things improved rapidly during the second week, after I got my drains out. I can’t recommend planning to work within that week, but I think you could if you were really desperate.

          Please take care of yourself and plan to not work for at minimum ten days after surgery, ideally 14.

    7. mreasy*

      I had a reduction (not as invasive as top surgery) and I’m afraid I agree. I couldn’t have worked from home due to healing-related exhaustion for at least the first week afterward.

    8. KayStar*

      There will be drain(s) most likely. I recently had a mastectomy, which is similar surgery, different cause for having it. I am also short and round. There was no room for the drain + food + constipation backup (thank you pain meds) in my midsection, and it stood on a nerve most of the time, making repositioning very difficult for the first 10 days. Also I was banned from driving until I was off the pain meds,which are a controlled substance. Need-the-money or not, your body will compromise your ability to work the way you want to, even if it’s telework.

    9. LW #3*

      I think it may be too late to apply for short term disability for me. I think that’s an option when we do open enrollment, but obvs the selections for 2022 are already done.

      Thank you though, I think from what I’m hearing, I will need to prepare to take more than just a few days of leave or FMLA. As someone who lives paycheck to paycheck though, the idea of missing one kind of terrifies me!

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        From your letter it sounded like you were looking at doing the surgery and some extra time off before the holiday week–can that be flipped? Like you have the surgery just before the holiday week, then take a few days paid leave, then at that point you would have a sense of whether you could do some WFH or if you’d have to request more time off?

        1. LW #3*

          The goal was to have the surgery the week before Thanksgiving and take that whole week off using leave, then have Thanksgiving week off, and ideally return back to work after that, but I’m thinking I may need to WFH for week #3, if they allow it. And then kind of see from there.

          1. Max*

            That sounds like a good plan to me! I think by week 3 it’s reasonable to expect you could be doing remote work. That said, don’t push yourself if you’re not up to it, and be prepared to rethink things if needed. Listen to your body and you should get a sense of what type of work you’ll be able to manage and when. (I only intended to take two weeks, but ended up having a serious complication at the end of week 1, which set me back a third week. Annoying and unpleasant, and not something I could have predicted going in, but ultimately still worth it.)

            I hope everything goes smoothly!

          2. All Het Up About It*

            Good luck with the surgery LW #3!
            I recently heard a boundary setting phrase that I think could be so useful in the office. When you make your request and reference the surgery you are bound to get some additional questions. Hopefully as Alison said they will mostly just be out of general concern. You can always answer: “I’m not comfortable sharing the details right now, but thank you for your concern.” I love it as a way to recognize that someone is hopefully coming from a good place, but that you are still due some privacy if you want it.

          3. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

            LW, see if they would also be open to you working from home but part days for a week or two. I get the finances are a concern here, but it may be a bridge option as you gain back your strength.

            I remember after having an intensive surgery (and having 3 weeks off), I would have loved to be able to go back to work for 4-6 hours a day instead the full 8 hours for a week or two. I was sooo exhausted at the end of the day. I was lucky my company had short term disability program (Canada), but it did not allow for phased in return to work. For my next surgery, I took the full 4 weeks off even though I could have easily worked part time during weeks 3 and 4.

          4. marvin the paranoid android*

            Congratulations on the top surgery, LW3!! I’m hoping to schedule mine this year as well.

            I don’t know what options are available where you are, but you could try looking into whether there are any organizations near you that make funds available to assist with costs associated with affirming surgeries. I’ve seen some that will help out with things like travel costs, so they aren’t always specific to the cost of the surgery itself.

            From what I’ve heard, most people are okay to work or study from home after a week or two, but it’s hard to guess how long your personal healing and recovery will take. I hope yours goes as smoothly as possible!

            1. LW #3*

              I didn’t even think about this! I’ll look into it. Any extra funds which could pad me if I take FMLA would be extremely appreciated. It’s already going to be rough to actually save up for the surgery itself, which’ll be $6,000 WITH insurance coverage. Missing out on a full paycheck would be super stressful. Thank you!

              1. marvin the paranoid android*

                I don’t want to tell you anything you don’t already know, but if the cost of the surgery is also a barrier, you could look into getting a grant to help cover those costs too. If you have a local LGBT+ resource centre or trans healthcare organization, they might be able to provide a list of options. Best of luck <3

        2. Hlao-roo*

          I think this is a good idea, if at all possible. Schedule the surgery for the Thursday or Friday before Thanksgiving, have the week of Thanksgiving off, take off Mon – Wed after Thanksgiving, then work from home the Thursday and Friday after Thanksgiving.

          I don’t have any personal experience with this, but from what the other commenters are saying, it seems you’re more likely to be able to get work done (from home) two weeks after the surgery than the few days immediately following the surgery. Best of luck!

      2. canary*

        I had a double mastectomy (with reconstruction, so a bit different from your situation) with a shockingly quick recovery according to my doctors- my drains were out in less than a week. But even so, I was out for at least two weeks. Your body is going to be exhausted by the healing process and you will need a lot of time to rest. I’m so sorry you don’t have the leave you need (and deserve – but I’ll stay off my American Healthcare & Leave Policies are Immoral soapbox). Best of luck to you.

      3. not an HR professional*

        You can ask your benefits department. Sometimes for ahead-of-time planned surgeries or other medical “events” (i.e. unexpected pregnancy) they will allow you to enroll out of season. Alternatively you see if you can delay the top surgery until Jan the following year and sign up in advance for the STD so you do have an allowance for paid medical time off. I know sometimes that isn’t emotionally a great choice if you don’t want to delay further, but it sounds like you are worried about money and time off, and being able to avail yourself of all the options your company can give you for extended medical leave is something to look into in the interim.

      4. cryptid*

        Depending on your location, you may have a state-run short term disability you can access – I got mine through California, not my job. I wish you the best of luck and an easy recovery! I’m so, so happy I had it, from one nb person to another ♥️

      5. Mike*

        I had this same surgery and must have been very lucky because after a couple of days I was totally fine to work at home and so incredibly bored from being cooped up that I really wanted to as well. You definitely shouldn’t commit to working or assume you’re going to be able to do so. I’m self employed so I could just do whatever. Do you have the option of planning to take the leave, and then if you feel better than expected, changing the plan to work from home instead?

        1. Mike*

          Also I should add that your surgeon is the ideal resource for informing you of what activities you can do when. If you have scars closing up, drains still in, not allowed to life your arms above chest level, etc, this can affect your ability to go places. Like I was eager to go outside but sure as hell wasn’t going anywhere when I wasn’t allowed to take a shower for a week. The surgeon should be prepared with guidelines on this.

  9. Worldwalker*

    I just had an evil thought … the kind that is, unfortunately, more practical in the imagining than the doing.

    There are long sleeve things that you can get to simulate a full sleeve tattoo; you can find multiple designs on Amazon. Get a set of those. Wear them to cover up the tattoos. When management complains … “But you said tattoos had to be covered; you didn’t say they couldn’t be covered with pictures of different tattoos.”

    That would probably get you fired for insubordination, but it’s fun to daydream about!

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Theres a possible solution in your evil thought. I cycle and got tired of slathering my arms in sunscreen in the summer. There are plain colored arm sleeves available on the internet intended for UV protection. They’re skin tight and thin and cool (seriously in the summer they don’t make me any hotter). Slightly annoying but it would allow LW to wear short sleeves without bandages which is a dumb idea. And if they get wet, they’ll dry fast but you can also pull them up when you’re washing your hands too.

      But let me just on the record to say the policy is dumb and outdated.

      1. Batgirl*

        That sounds like a genius idea. It would be good for OP to be comfortable while she job hunts. Honestly all the shrugging and the “that seems like a you problem” attitude OP has met with are as bad as the way they have established a rule without thinking about why they are doing it, and have hired someone without considering their well-being under that rule.

      2. Elenna*

        Yeah, I’ve worn those while hiking, can confirm they’re comfortable and dry out fast. Definitely an option if OP doesn’t want to make waves.

        But this is still a stupid policy likely rooted in racism. (And any sort of arm covering seems likely to be at least equally distracting to small children vs tattoos.) And it’s completely ridiculous that nobody told OP about this before the job offer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the interviewers were, consciously or unconsciously, thinking “well, OP’s not a POC, therefore these can’t be gang tattoos, so it’s fine”.

    2. Silly string theory*

      There are also sleeves you can buy to cover ‘unsightly veins/scars’ advertised that are basically tights for your arms and come in some flesh tones. (Unsure of colors!) they are meant to be worn under sheer sleeves, so probably not too heavy.
      Just a thought.

    3. Chili pepper Attitude*

      An honest practical question. If the OP wears long sleeves or tights type sleeves or bandages, the kids will see the tattoos when the OP rolls up the sleeves or changes the bandages. So what is the point.

      Unless adults have to go in a staff room to wash. In which case, the op will be away for an inconvenient length of time in order to change bandages every time they get wet. I’d be spending lots of time in the back washing my hands.

    1. trans_worker*

      Top surgery typically refers to when trans people get chest-modifying surgery as part of a medical transition. So, a trans woman might choose to get a breast augmentation, and a trans man might choose to get a mastectomy.

      1. gsa*

        Removed. This is definitely something you can research outside of this site if you’re interested in learning more about trans people!

  10. trans_worker*

    To LW3: If it’s possible to use your vacation days instead of trying to work from home, or to schedule your surgery right before your break and then work from home AFTER the break, I would highly recommend that! I had keyhole top surgery in December of 2020 and I was barely ready to start working from home after 2.5 weeks. Obviously everyone is different, and you know yourself best – but I wouldn’t count on being able to work in any capacity a few days out from surgery. Just my two cents as a fellow trans office worker :)

    1. LW #3*

      I think WFH on week #3 is a good bet. Uses more leave days than I want for the first week, but that’s better than missing out on the pay. I will ask about this!

      Thank you for your kind words!

      1. JelloStapler*

        I am sorry to hear about the skimpy PTO and sick time options at your employment, that is certainly not a generous policy to say the least.

  11. Pennyworth*

    The tattoo policy seems ridiculous. I can understand that a tattooo of a gun or a violent image would have to be covered, but plants are harmless ( assuming they are not triffids) and might even be something the children like to look at.

    As for covering your arms, have a look at images for UV arm sleeves used by cyclists – they would be easy to push up when you need to wash your hands and come is some wild patterns.

    1. Green great dragon*

      Came here to say to LW1 a) policy is ridiculous, and I would be inclined, once the weather warms up, to ‘forget’ to put the bandages on, but b) if you do want to cover up, google cycling sleeves. For bonus points, find some with a plant pattern on…

    2. Wry*

      Completely agree. The suggestion to wear bandages is ridiculous – bandages might very well be alarming for children to see, they might constantly ask about them assuming it’s due to an injury. I don’t see how this is less disruptive or disturbing to children than a tattoo.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I agree the tattoo policy is ridiculous, but I’m hesitant to say that the image in the tattoo should matter at all. I’ve known people with a fairly detailed tattoos of the crucifixion that many people could have called violent, but it was clearly a religious and deeply personal piece to them (it was a back piece, so it would have been covered anyways, I suppose). Ditto the soldier’s cross (which would be a depiction of a gun) done as a tribute for their deceased squad-mates. I’ve also seen people told to cover up their pentagram/sephirot/tarot tattoos, because of how people viewing them feel about the tattoo, rather than what it means to person wearing it.

      So… I’m opposed to the idea of thinking there is ‘reasonable’ levels of censor-ship where you can tell someone to cover up their tattoos, because of how comfortable or not the content will make viewers.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        I agree that it’s difficult to draw a line, but in the specific context of a child care center, there definitely is one. I would define it less by objects and more by something like “violence, obscenities, or sexual content.” That might mean a graphic depiction of the crucifixion needs to be covered! But if it could be reasonably expected to upset a small child, in this specific job, cover it.

    4. ThisIsTheHill*

      Right? I have a Wonder Woman half sleeve, & when I wear short sleeves in public, littles (and lots of their parents) love to ask me about it. I also have a tat on my inner arm that’s an outline of a hand shaped like the devil’s horns you do at concerts; one of our friend’s sons asked me if it was for Spiderman to shoot his webs out of.

  12. Justin*

    LW2, don’t worry about it. I live in Seattle and work for one of the large tech companies. I can think of at least 5 people in my 60 person department who are active in the Mormon church and no one cares. They were hired for their experience.

    1. trans_worker*

      I also live in the PNW and have worked with several Mormon folks over the years. I have never known anyone to think twice about it and agree it shouldn’t be a cause for concern at all for the LW.

      1. jonquil*

        Same! Grew up in and live in the PNW, around lots of LDS/Mormon folks, including some good friends. My impression of BYU was always that it took a lot of hard work to get in. If I’m hiring at a mission-driven nonprofit that deals with issues that bump up against some of the positions the LDS church has taken, I’m going to be looking at your cover letter and work experience for alignment, and would want to hear from you in an interview about why our mission is meaningful to you. But that’s no different from how I’d approach reviewing literally any other candidate.

      1. Prefer my pets*

        Hmmmmm…I have worked with quite a few as well. I was right on the Utah border so to be expected. Probably 75% it was not an issue at all…some needed very, VERY firm discussions with management and HR that yes in fact they were required to interact with women, POCs, and LBGT+ just the same as white cis het males. A couple of those were fired because they refused. And then there was the guy that we were in the verge of firing for his absolute refusal to take direction from women when he was arrested for aggravated assault and attempted murder for beating his wife very nearly to death for trying to leave the cult. Judge wouldn’t even give him bail when some of the other stuff started coming out.

        So yeah…I get the desire to make it very clear that they aren’t an extremist.

        1. Curious*

          I hope people remember that discrimination based on religion violates Title VII — and that applies to religions whose tenets we find offensive just as much as it applies to religions whose tenets we find comfortable.

    2. Jen*

      I once had a boss who dropped that she went to Bob Jones and I was really surprised when she mentioned it. I don’t know if she was no longer religious but she didn’t act like the type of have gone to a very religious university at all.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I worked with someone who had gone to Moody Bible Institute. I was a little worried until I heard her call it Insta-Moody Bibletoot while laughing her ass off. She turned out to be great fun. Still religious, but nicely compartmentalized.

    3. Nye*

      Ditto – I’m an evolutionary biologist and I wouldn’t bat an eye at a BYU credential in my field. It’s got a really good biology program, and it’s a relatively inexpensive education. As long as the candidate doesn’t mention mission work or other overtly religious activities on their CV, it shouldn’t be anything to worry about in most fields. (Though if you work in a field that serves groups discriminated against by the church, Alison’s and others’ suggestions to make your views clear in your social media / other listings in your CV sound like a good idea.)

    4. LW2*

      One wonders if we’ve worked together… ;) Maybe I’m one of those people influencing your opinion of Mormons in the workplace.

  13. Observer*

    #2- Any place that is going to knock you out for having gone to Bringham Young 15 years ago has its own issues with basic tolerance. Let’s face it, there are plenty of CURRENT students who don’t agree with a lot that the University believes in. 15 years out? Assuming that any school you went to 15 years ago is a strong indicator of what you believe today really doesn’t match reality, unless there are other signs of strong affiliation.

    I could see an employer deciding that if you and another candidate are so close that it’s pretty much a coin toss, they would go with the other candidate. But how often does that happen. And on the other hand, any good employer should be looking out for more current and active signs of prejudice, regardless of college someone went to, especially if they finished their degree more than a decade ago.

    1. Raboot*

      This “any place that will ding you for X is somewhere you don’t want to work” comes up in comments for a lot of letters and I don’t think it’s that helpful or accurate, honestly. One sourcer or recruiter passing on OP’s resume is all it would take to have an effect, it doesn’t mean the company as a whole in all cases is a terrible intolerant place to work.

      1. Observer*

        This “any place that will ding you for X is somewhere you don’t want to work”

        I’m not saying that it’s not a place you want to work. I am saying that this is absolutely a data point that you should factor in to your decision making about the job.

        Alison talk about this kind of thing a lot. And, yes, one of the things she mentions frequently is to look at whether this is just about a lousy recruiter vs a lousy company culture.

        Does that mean that this would never, ever possibly hurt the OP? Of course not. But overall, that’s a problem you really can’t guard against. Because if you’re talking about recruiters who aren’t good at their jobs (which would be the case if they pulled this), you really can’t know what they are going to have an issue with.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I definitely was thinking that even if OP2 was still Mormon, dinging her for that would be intolerant and illegal. I do think that it’s something she should be concerned about since a lot of folks would discriminate against her for that anyway, unfortunately. But it really, really sucks that the answer to “I think you might be religion A,” is “Don’t worry, I’m not, actually.”

      1. LW2*

        The answer isn’t even “don’t worry, I’m not actually.” It’s more ” It’s complicated and way more personal that I’m prepared to get into in an interview. Also, aren’t you not supposed to ask about religion?”

  14. nnn*

    #2: What if you indicated your pronouns on your resume and/or linkedin profile?

    I know it shouldn’t be related, but in practice there’s often a strong inverse correlation between willingness to indicate one’s pronouns and the kind of religious overzealousness that can be problematic in the workplace.

    (I haven’t a clue what the Mormon faith specifically would think about indicating one’s pronouns, but a subset of potential hiring managers are going to be people like me who don’t know much about the Mormon faith but, rightly or wrongly, are likely to interpret pronouns as an indication that you’re “not like that.”)

    1. Wendy*

      I like this :-) It’s a subtle way to go against the stereotype a hiring manager might have in their head about Mormons, and hopefully that will be enough to make them evaluate you on your own merits.

    2. Franzy*

      Why is it ok to discriminate someone who may identify as Mormon if they have not expressed any prejudice? It seems like simply being Mormon is a disqualification here.

      1. Renata Ricotta*

        (Disclaimer I was LDS and went to BYU) — because the official church stance has been pretty homophobic and transphobic (and racist, overtly in the past and subtly in the present). I could see at least a bit of trepidation that an actively religious person might introduce prejudice that could undermine a company’s goals of creating a diverse and inclusive environment. That shouldn’t eliminate someone out-of-hand but raises a yellow flag to make sure they won’t inadvertently hire someone who will make the working environment hostile toward people of other gender identities/sexual orientations/etc etc etc

        1. S*

          In the news, a BYU professor/church higher-up said some racist things on camera *last week*, so it’s not as subtle as all that.

          I think the pronouns thing is a useful way to signal that you intend to be respectful about people’s identities, whatever your personal religious beliefs may or may not be, and that’s all I would need to know.

        2. JelloStapler*

          Could be, but would not hiring a Muslim in case they are really a terrorist okay? No. You’re making a jump no matter what the religion is.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            This is not analogous. Islam is not a unified religion in the same way Mormonism is. There is no central authority of Islam working to oppose civil rights in the U.S. I certainly think Mormons should be given fair consideration in hiring, but the comparison is not accurate.

      2. Green great dragon*

        It isn’t ok, it isn’t legal in hiring, but it’s very hard to stop. It’s not just about a flat ‘will not hire Mormons’, it’s also about more subtle bias, which the interviewer might not even be consciously aware of.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah. I was almost guilty of not wanting to hire a guy because I saw he was from Texas, and I was worried that he’d be a redneck. Then I told myself this would be reverse racism, and also, that a redneck wouldn’t come to France to study translation. His CV was far better than all the others combined, so I asked him to come in. He kind of stumbled out of the lift and one look was all I needed to know he was a lovely person through and through. Turned out that the town he was from was the one cool place in Texas.

      3. Sylvan*

        Are you aware of any of the church’s current or historic policies about Black people, women, or LGBT people? Or the posthumous baptisms of non-Mormons, specifically Jews for some reason?

        1. Sylvan*

          Like the school that the LW went to practiced electroshock aversion therapy on gay students in the 70s. That’s, like, a fraction of it.

      4. Bagpuss*

        Discriminating against someone because of their religious beliefs is not acceptable (or Legal, where I am)

        However, I don’t think that taking into account the fact that a person choses to continue to be an active member of an openly homophobic/transphobic organisation is necessarily discriminatory, even if the organisation is a church.

        1. Curious*

          Sorry, but that is a distinction without a difference. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on religious belief, full stop. The fact that an employee or applicant may hold religious beliefs that you or I may find abhorrent doesn’t change that.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            If the practice of their religion may be incompatible with your workplace, it’s not discrimination to consider that. I would never want or expect someone who keeps halal to alter that for their workplace; but I also wouldn’t hire them to butcher pigs, because it’s fundamentally incompatible. The type of discrimination openly endorsed by the Mormon religion is incompatible with many workplace policies. Practicing Mormons should absolutely be given a fair chance in hiring, since they may not practice that way (which is true of pretty much all religions). But let’s not act like there’s no basis for concern.

            1. Curious*

              This is another instance, similar to the case of applicants who might be perceived to be disabled, of the good practice of asking the same thing of all candidates. So, it would be perfectly fine to ask all candidates if they are willing to follow employer’s policies on DEI. It would not be okay to only ask those questions of candidates who you presume are less likely to be willing to follow those policies based on their (presumed or actual) religious beliefs.

            2. SnappinTerrapin*

              If they apply for the job, it’s not your place to parse their doctrines or judge their compliance.

              You can’t refuse to hire someone because of their professed (or perceived) faith, even if you regard your discrimination as benign and helpful.

      5. Critical Rolls*

        There are two different things that are getting conflated. There is LW’s situation, where they went to BYU 15 years ago. This should not cause a moment of hesitation for a bunch of reasons.

        Then there are people who are current, active LDS. It’s not unreasonable for this to raise a yellow flag, as that person is choosing, right now, to associate themselves with an organization that has been openly, actively discriminatory, and openly, actively demanded its membership support that. If you care about DEI in your workplace, that’s going to give you pause. But candidates do need to be given a chance to demonstrate whether they are willing and able to work in an inclusive workplace, so it shouldn’t be anything like an automatic disqualification unless they put “worked to oppose gay marriage” in their volunteer experience.

    3. Well...*

      This is smart. I struggle with how mainstream success on these fronts makes it harder to ID allies, since signaling ally ship now has professional advantages so there’s incentive to keep up the appearance. For example, I work internationally and pronouns in sign-offs is also a symbol of “I’m from the US/some parts of Northern Europe” which has its own set of advantages (unfortunately).

    4. LemonLyman*

      This was my first thought as well. Hoping OP already does this but it’s a good way to signal to others that you support transgender colleagues so they can see that – at a minimum – you do not align with some of the more bigoted aspects of the religion.

    5. trans and tired*

      This is what I would advise. For all the talk about how “everyone uses pronouns! declaring yours is a totally neutral act!” putting a pronoun in your email signature or resume next to your name is an explicit gesture of allyship.

      (frankly, I am not a fan of the pronoun discourse because it feels like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but that’s probably more a topic for the weekend thread)

    6. Anonymous Luddite*

      In some ways, I agree that it’s a clever coded way to convey that.
      In other ways, that’s about as subtle as showing up to the interview with a Starbucks in your hand.

      1. Gracely*

        …what is showing up with Starbucks supposed to mean nowadays, other than you like coffee?

        I mean, there are 2 in my small, blue-collar, rural, southern town, and they are constantly swamped. It’s definitely not the “elite leftist” signifier it was back in the 90s when you could only find it in large cities.

        1. Captain Raymond Holt*

          Mormons/LDS don’t drink caffeine/coffee. So showing up with a Starbucks cup would signal “I’m not like that.”

      2. LW2*

        Hah! I see you! Alas, I still don’t drink coffee. Though, I could roll up with a Starbucks cup full of delicious hot cocoa.

    7. LW2*

      I like this idea.

      I’ve consciously left off my pronouns because I’ve read some things from trans folks opining that for those who aren’t out it feels conspicuous if everyone has their pronouns and they don’t. So as a form of allyship I’ve left mine off. But in the job hunt phase where people don’t know me, adding it to LinkedIn at the very least does feel like a good counterbalance.

  15. GelieFish*

    It took me weeks at my new job to figure out that the reason my coworker wore long-sleeve shirts in the middle of the summer was because he had tattoos. We’re both GenXers, so that would have been the norm in the past, but everything has become more relaxed that it surprised me.

    1. Tupac Coachella*

      I ran into something similar-I mentioned to a coworker that he must be burning up, and he replied pleasantly that he was fine, but has tattoos from “a part of my life I’m not proud of.” It was very easy to take the hint and let it go. No issue with tattoos in general (I have several large ones and love showing them off), but I know that many people have tattoos they consider either embarrassing/upsetting, even if others wouldn’t judge them.

  16. Renata Ricotta*

    Hi OP#2! I also went to BYU and am an ex-mo (although I went for grad school, not undergrad). I’m in a liberal field and live in LA and it has not been a problem, promise! If anything, I’ve gotten jobs based on LDS people giving me an edge (which I don’t feel that bad about, ha). I just don’t mention it, and focus on my professional accomplishments since graduating. And then once I get the job, I live my ex-mo life — I have a cup of coffee at the office, I grab a beer at happy hour, etc. I generally find that the people who were inclined to notice my educational history then take the cue (or ask, and I say “oh I don’t practice anymore”), and the Mormon/BYU alums are mildly disappointed but not shocked.

    Also re your terminology comment, my still-very-devout dad LOVES his joke that he “used to be a Mormon” :)

    1. Renata Ricotta*

      Oh, and I definitely include all of my very-liberal pro bono work and community service, to assuage any concerns that I’m a homo/transphobic. Similar to another commenter’s advice to include pronouns; just signal your nonconformity to LDS norms where it feels organic.

  17. KEG*

    #2 It is basketball season, I don’t think all the kids who play for BYU are Mormans, maybe some are. I think they are there to get an education by way of playing basketball which is fine if they are okay with following the rules laid out when they sign up.

    You went to BYU to get an education, yes? You took & passed relevant courses? Your degree is no different than a degree from Notre Dame or Baylor.

    1. Renata Ricotta*

      BYU alum — the restrictions are WAY more intense than Notre Dame or Baylor (no non-marital sex of any kind, alcohol, drugs of any kind, coffee, even tea), which is why BYU’s LDS to non-LDS population is more than 90% LDS and less than 10% non-LDS. The non-LDS people at BYU I knew who were reasonably OK with it were already very religious and had similar restrictions based on their faith. The ones who were not religious/less religious broke the rules and risked expulsion.

      1. Liz*

        I hope this isn’t too off topic (my apologies if it is) but how do the school know? I could understand them getting wind of it if someone threw a wild party on campus, but what about in their outside lives? Most of my uni shenanigans happened in pubs the other side of town, or at my friends’ houses. Even if the university took issue with that (which mine didn’t, granted) it was very unlikely that they would have heard about it, and if it was a sticking point with university policy I’d be making doubley sure that I put some distance between the campus and my personal life.

        This may well be a case where my perceptions don’t align with reality, but I think if I heard of a university trying to enforce that kind of thing, I’d assume they were only referring to what goes on within their own campus (because how else is it enforceable?), or I’d think “good luck with that” and figure the students were all doing their own thing once they were out of the gates for the day, LW included.

        1. DEJ*

          BYU has a well publicized formal Honor Code that all students must sign that says that you are choosing to live a certain lifestyle all the time. They encourage reporting of wrongdoing by fellow students. There was even a scandal awhile back where the university police department was accessing records they weren’t supposed to be accessing so that they could use them to report violations to the Honor Code office.

        2. Ayla*

          I know my brother had to get periodic ecclesiastical endorsements from a religious leader, and his living situation had to be reported. But a lot of it was self-reporting, and plenty of people did all sorts of things that were against the rules and most of the time they didn’t get caught. On the other hand, when my cousin got his girlfriend pregnant and it was found out, he had to re-take an entire semester of courses to be awarded credits for the classes he’d been taking when the conception took place. The penalties can be pretty harsh.

          1. Not All Hares Are Quick*

            What? Have I understood that right? A math qualification is invalid because the candidate was putting his genitals where they shouldn’t be at the time he took the course?
            I hope at least there was a chance to get a distinction for anyone who undertook to wear a chastity belt for the semester.

        3. VintageLydia*

          There are almost no pubs or bars in Provo, UT because it’s a city (and state! A rather large one!) pretty much ruled by Mormons. Which means a lot of local friends will be of that faith and have similar feelings about alcohol/coffee/tea/sex. This is a religion with PSAs on reporting your friends to church leadership for *masterbation* so the rules are quite strictly enforced by even peers.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        The difference between perception and reality will work in LW#2’s favor here. A lot of non-Mormon/LDS people think that BYU is similar to Notre Dame or Baylor. Hiring managers who aren’t familiar with BYU won’t judge LW#2 beyond “yes, this person did get a degree in [field].”

    2. birch*

      Education is not equal, and people in general have some responsibility to make sure that the institutions they support (e.g. with tuition money) share their values. Universities have different mission statements, values, and codes that they expect their staff and students to work by, and they develop reputations by how they deal with violations of those codes. Their values also affect what kinds of learning opportunities and support services are available to students and what the content of their courses are–it makes a HUGE difference in curriculum, and no topic is unaffected by values. Just an example–I taught a stats class that used PISA (education) data, but PISA’s gender demographics only include boys and girls. I didn’t have the authority to choose the materials for that course, and using that data enforces a gender binary. When these seemingly small things are magnified over hundreds of courses and universities with historically problematic values or institutions that don’t even bother to think about these things, the education you get is not the same as at another university and has a huge impact on students’ learning. That’s not even getting into “quality of teaching” issues or codes of conduct on campus.

  18. TheWilk*

    BYU grad here from more than 20 years ago. Been hired at all types of companies over the years… liberal, conservative, secular. Worked from private start ups and for the government. People care about your work. BYU may have its social issues, but like Alison said, it’s got a strong academic reputation. When I’ve told new coworkers where I went to school, most didn’t bat an eye. I’m a nuanced member nowadays.

  19. Macaroni Penguin*

    #1) So, does this mean at some point that (presumed) gang members were employed to work with children at your company? Because I’m now picturing a yakuza staffing takeover of a daycare or kindergarten. One could also point out that these (presumed) gang members passed their criminal record checks. Or were these parents worried that the organization was bought out by Tony Soprano? What nonsense.
    And yes, the employer should have gone over their Absurd tattoo policy.

    1. rolly*

      No, it means (assuming the company is the in the US) that they want some way to screen out Black and Latino people. It’s not about organized crime with European or Asian origins. it’s about Black and brown people.

      1. Stardust*

        Not in the US so i’m not too familiar with this steteotype but are black and latino people more likely to have tattoos? Otherwise how would that in any way be an effective screening tool?

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          In the US, there is a strong stereotype connecting black and brown people to “gangs.” So lots of seemingly innocent things, like colors, hand signals, jewelry, tattoos, are more likely to be attributed to a gang connection if black and brown people display them.

          1. Rolly*

            Yup, adding in response to “Otherwise how would that in any way be an effective screening tool?” — many, many policies about clothes/dress/appearance can be weaponized for racial discrimination in the US. All the things Kittering mentioned.

            1. JimmyJab*

              No, folks are suggesting the policy in general is racist, another reason why the policy is stupid, and can exclude folks like OP, who may or may not be a person of color, who has obviously non-gang-related tattoos.

        1. Daisy Gamgee*

          As the ad says, why not both?

          One pattern I’ve noticed over time is that people who do not suffer from a particular disprivilege often don’t see its more subtle or understated manifestations and feel qualified to judge globally whether or not it’s present in a given situation, disregarding the judgments of people who have experienced and/or studied the particular disprivilege and thus recognize it in less obvious situations.

        1. Mameshiba*

          At 11 we hit up the neighborhood convenience stores for protection money, at 3 we pay off the local cops, and at 7 we patronize local bars and sex workers!

  20. KEG*

    Catholics and Baptists are not okay with pre-marital sex, alcohol or drugs. They are okay with caffeine.

    But really, the OP went to BYU to get an education. 5, 10, 15 years later they have professional references that they know what they’re doing when they do what they do? All good.

    1. UKDancer*

      Err I would say most Catholics I know are perfectly fine with alcohol and I’ve never heard of it being a thing they take issue with. I’ve been around a lot of Catholic countries in Europe and many of them have a fairly well developed alcohol production industry.

      1. Dutchie*

        Would be hard for the Catholic church to be against alcoholic consumption since it’s used during mass. ;-)

        1. londonedit*

          I mean…Ireland as a country pretty much proves that Catholics don’t mind a bit of alcohol now and then.

          1. Anonymous Luddite*

            There’s a fun bit of history on that… Every wave of immigrants to the US (whom we now all “count” as white but were discriminated against at the time) was painted as being lush alcoholics. Irish, Italian, and German.
            Prohibition episode of the podcast “You’re Dead To Me”

            1. Daisy Gamgee*

              Yeah, it’s an interesting set of historical parallels. Sometimes the language used to criticize different groups was the same down to the phrasing (which does hint that the source was more likely xenophobia than any actual egregious behavior on the part of those criticized).

          1. Salymander*

            Ha! Yeah, the church I went to as a kid preached that Jesus didn’t make wine, he made grape juice. They said that this is a fact because they looked it up in “the original Greek.” None of these people could read Greek. And a few times they served Kool aid and I know that wasn’t anywhere in the new testament.

            Boy was I surprised when I went to church with one of my school friends and they served real wine! I had one little sip, and I was so scared that my parents would find out that I stuffed almost a whole pack of gum in my mouth to cover it up. They served lovely fresh baked wheat bread too, instead of the stale water crackers my church used. And they had beautiful stained glass windows in the chapel. I was super jealous of my friend.

        2. Green tea*

          Right? I was raised Catholic and a church that gives seven year old kids sips of wine every week during communion is definitely not anti-alcohol.

    2. Cards fan*

      Plenty of Catholic churches near me. All of them have beer tents and/or wine tastings at their summer picnics.

      1. introverted af*

        My city has an annual Irish Fest that is pretty big, and all the beer tents are volunteered at by a local church or Knights of Columbus chapter. The people that volunteer get free entry before/after their shift, and the group that organizes the volunteers gets the proceeds. It’s a great time.

    3. Well...*

      From my experience with catholic school and a v devout Catholic extended family, Catholics are cool with alcohol. Drugs/sex is widespread but they do try to make you feel guilty about it afterwards. The non-negotiables are abortions, not having kids, not raising your kids Catholic, not believing things. The clean, sober, celebate lifestyle that sets one apart culturally is more of a thing with other christian groups.

      1. Lucy Skywalker*

        And I know from personal experience that there are some progressive Catholic churches who are fine with married couples who choose not to have children. Such churches are about welcoming all, even those who aren’t 100% on board with all the Church’s teachings; because they’d rather have them come to church than not.

    4. Cj*

      Never, ever heard that Catholics are against alcohol. Quite the opposite in many cases, the comment regarding the Irish confirms. I mean, St Patrick’s Day is related to the celebration of a Catholic saint, and also is connected to a lot of drinking.

    5. canary*

      All the Catholic church festivals I have ever been to (and I have been to A LOT) prominently feature beer tents and low-key gambling (Bingo, pull-tabs, etc). The Catholic church has many, many (MANY) problems but they are 100% cool with alcohol.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        The Lutherans and the Catholics will both have a place to watch the Packers game during a festival, but the Catholics will also have booze. :)

        1. Captain Raymond Holt*

          Wait, people watch the Packers without beer?

          I mean, I do, but I’m one of the minority of Wisconsinites who doesn’t drink.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Recovering RC here (don’t practice for many reasons, but especially its retrograde patriarchal structure and values) For sure, the RC church is the church for beer, dancing, and parties.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      There is a long tradition (centuries-long) of Catholic monks (and the odd convent) brewing beer both for their own consumption and to support their monasteries. In many cases it’s excellent, world-renowned beer. Catholicism, like most religions, is opposed to alcohol addiction, but otherwise has no issue with alcohol consumption.

  21. Jen*

    For LW1, I’m on the parent board for my kid’s preschool and there’s a notorious nation-wide shortage of staff in childcare and teaching. Places are adding tons of benefits and pay increases to stay competitive. And this place found you, an experienced teacher who’s basically the hardest thing to find right now and they’re willing to let you go over some tattoos? Definitely not a choice I would make. The good news is, you should be able to find another job easily. I’m just shaking my head on how they would let a teacher go over something so petty.

    1. Silly Janet*

      It’s all so lame. The policy itself, the fact they didn’t tell the OP during the interview stage, and how they are making them hide the tattoos. I work in childcare, and there were two years I was the only teacher not covered in tattoos. In this day and age it is a very outdated policy

      1. Jen*

        Especially because they would likely have had to start the background check/licensing paperwork already and at least in my state, it’s ridiculously backed up. What were they thinking?

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      At this point I’m not sure it’s clear whether they would actually let her go over it or not. I think finding that out is the next step, but only if OP is willing to lose the job if the answer is yes. If not then I guess the answer is to comply for a bit while quietly continuing the job hunt.

  22. JM60*

    #2 is a bit like the situation I’m in. I’m a liberal, gay, former Catholic guy who attended 2 Catholic Universities. The second I attended isn’t particularly conservative, but the first one I attended frequently makes top-10 lists for most conservative universities in America. It’s not as well known as BYU, since it’s much smaller, since it’s about 1/10th the size, but anyone who Googles it will see just how Catholic it is.

    Anyways, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Most people will realize that what college doesn’t necessarily indicate how religious you are or aren’t or what your values are or aren’t. If you’re very worried about it, perhaps you could try doing some volunteer work somewhat related to the types of positions you apply for, but also indicate that your values are not what people may think based on your attendance of BYU.

    1. reject187*

      Similar! I attended a small Christian university with the denomination and “Bible” in the title, and it hasn’t gotten in my way of being employed. No one even asks about where or why I got my education there – just what I’ve done with it.

  23. Bumblebeee*

    Who on earth complains about their kid’s teacher’s tattoos!? Unless they are obviously offensive why on earth does it matter. I have kids and a t

    1. Bumblebeee*

      Oops, prematurely hit submit by accident! I have kids and a teacher’s tattoo never registered more than the colour of their shirt.

      1. JimmyJab*

        People are banning books and banning teaching US history to students, so uproar over tattoos doesn’t much surprise me.

    2. Rayray*

      I agree. People with young kids are mostly younger Gen X, Millenial, or even Gen Z. Times have changed and most of these generations don’t give a rat’s ass about tattoos. I’m a Millenial working in the mortgage industry and my boomer parents were shocked to learn that I have coworkers with tattoo sleeves, pink hair, piercings, and we all wear jeans. Some people even wear leggings to work.

  24. frystavirki*

    #1 Wow, that’s a really restrictive policy for this day and age. My kindergarten teacher in 1999 had a visible tattoo. I hope they either rethink their rules or you can quickly get another job, because yikes! I don’t know too many kids myself, but I have never known a child to be offended by a tattoo. As I recall, I mostly just thought Ms. Casey’s ankle shamrock was really cool and wanted to know how you got permanent pictures on your skin like that.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      “wanted to know how you got permanent pictures on your skin like that.” – ha, yes, this is the rub! I have tattoos myself so I’m not expressing my own opinion here – but conservative people with old-fashioned ideas about tattoos probably don’t want their kids to get them, so they aren’t likely to be fond of a teacher that might put this idea in their heads.

      1. frystavirki*

        Luckily, I’m pretty sure my parents just told me it was a grownup thing, and I still don’t have any tattoos 23 years later, so maybe that worked?

  25. Caroline Bowman*

    OP3, if you are having surgery on your chest area, you may well be fairly incapacitated for a bit more than a a few days, very likely a week or so, and definitely not in a position to drive. I realise we’re all different and surgeries vary, but that whole chest, abdomen, rib area connects to a lot and free movement necessary for driving will be a huge challenge for a bit. Not forever, obviously, but for a while. I’m not US-based, but I’d go to HR and say you are having surgery where it is strongly advised to avoid driving or being in a vehicle (the jolting! The JOLTING, yikes, painful memories!) for a good 2 weeks post-surgery and how do they suggest you manage that? Say you’re willing to work from home from about day 4-5 and see what they say. I feel like your doctor will 100% back you up on the ”no commuting” thing for at least 2 weeks. It would be borderline dangerous.

    1. Allyson*

      They’re likely to ask for a physician’s letter as well to verify the need for medical time off. And then they will require a physician’s letter to verify that the employee is in good enough condition to return to work. Because an employer does not want you to come back too early and cause yourself additional issues, especially because that opens the employer to liability if the doctor said you can’t come back yet.

      Please don’t cheat yourself out of your recovery time. It is a big shock to your body no matter how well-prepared your mind is. And you never know how your body is going to respond. Let it have the time it needs to recover. Make sure you have contingency plans in place in the event that you do need additional time off beyond what you suspect you will.

    2. martin*

      In the US, you don’t have to disclose medical details but you do need to notify your employer that you will be out. And HR is not allowed to ask the medical reasons why for privacy laws. But a dr’s note will be required by most employers if more than a minimum number of days is expected to be missed. And then a dr’s note will be required in order to return to work. It all depends on how the employer handles time off with vacation versus allotted sick days. We would have to take our sick days for this type of surgery at my employer but could add vacation time to the end if we wanted to avoid it triggering the onset of our short-term disability process.

      1. LW #3*

        We can use the time off for anything, really, they just name it differently due to how the types carry over. (Sick days don’t, vacation and personal days do), but I could take any one of the three for the surgery as long as I have them available. My hesitation was just that I wouldn’t have said days if I used them all up for recovery time and they don’t refresh until July. It may be something I’ll just have to deal with but that was where the majority of my hesitation was!

        1. Moonsunbear*

          Fellow non-binary person still waiting for top surgery (was supposed to be next month! will be waiting until October!) and just wanted to say, congratulation!! Go out and live your best life.

    3. BelleMorte*

      If it is a mastectomy it will likely be a month or more before you have full movement, honestly. A friend had this done and had drains for several weeks longer than the norm due to some swelling. I’d encourage you to ask for more work from home time than you expect to anticipate any potential surgical setbacks.

  26. SavedFromLorna*

    I’m a little surprised at LW1’s situation. I worked in elementary education for almost a decade before making a career transition, and in both public and private schools, it was always deemed unacceptable for teachers to have visible tattoos or piercings other than ears and maybe a simple nose stud or small, plain ring. I’d be wary of taking this job–it doesn’t sound like they pay attention to details, and that’s the kiss of death with educational administrators.

    1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      Maybe a regional thing? I also worked in k-12 education for a decade, both private and public, in New England from 2010-2020 and there was never any issue with teachers having piercings or tattoos as long as the piercings weren’t super grabbable (I worked in special education and a number of students engaged in aggression at times) and the tattoo subject matter wasn’t inappropriate.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      These things can be very regional. My sister trained to be a teacher in Missouri, and the schools there were super strict. Certainly no visible tattoos, she actually was told not to wear suspenders because it made her “look like a lesbian”.

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          It was about 5 years ago at this point, but it’s Missouri. It’s Christian cult central, probably way worse than Texas has been being portrayed on the news, they just don’t get the publicity.

    3. Observer*

      I’d be wary of taking this job–it doesn’t sound like they pay attention to details,

      I don’t think that that’s the problem. I thin what they don’t pay attention to is transparency and good faith. They somehow managed to go over the who policy handbook and leave out JUST the part about tattoos? That doesn’t read as careless with details to me.

      1. SavedFromLorna*

        Right, so they don’t pay attention to details. They omitted a crucial part of the dress code (or there are multiple versions floating around) and somehow missed this noticeably-tattooed person with two nose rings had tattoos and nose rings.

        You don’t have to agree with me, but I’d say that shows a lack of attention to detail, which is in fact a bad sign in education (well, anywhere, but especially in something as fraught and stressful as education).

        1. Autumnheart*

          It sounds to me more like they deliberately left that part out so that OP would take the job, and figured they could strong-arm her about it after hiring because she’d be invested in keeping the job.

          If I were OP, if it wasn’t enough of a deal to bring up during hiring, it isn’t enough of a deal to enforce. Continue the job search and don’t waste time with the bandage nonsense. If they hate it that much, they can fire you and pay unemployment. With luck, you’ll find another job soon and just not include this place on your resume.

  27. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (tattoos) – is it a coincidence that HR went through all the policies including the dress code in which they covered “all of the points listed except one” and when asked later why they didn’t mention it they “shrugged it off”?

    This smells like a bait and switch to me.

    They wanted to get an experienced professional, worried (maybe correctly) that that requirement would put you off taking the role, and assumed they’d be able to get you to wear long sleeves / bandages (!) once you were already committed.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I admit, I thought at first it was just a mis-communication – the hiring person didn’t know the policy or figured it didn’t matter, or even the HR person forgot about this buried throwaway line – and I try not to attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence – but there is something weird about that.

      1. Emily*

        Wondering what would happen if OP1 just ignored this policy? It doesn’t actually sound like they care that much about the policy – given that they are HR they can’t tell OP1 “what’s in the handbook doesn’t matter” but whether they enforce it might depend on someone actually complaining. Even if a parent complained about tattoos years ago, I don’t think most modern parents now would object to tattoos of plants?

  28. Lady_Lessa*

    Grin about religious colleges and universities. I got my Bachelors from Georgetown College, and I was a Baptist at the time, so it was a good fit. I’m now Catholic, and when I say Georgetown, I have to specify the small Baptist college or else folks will think I went to the University.
    Since I’m a chemist, where I got my MS was more important.

  29. Alienor*

    #5, if someone went to a religion-affiliated college a reasonably long time ago, and they didn’t have anything else overtly religious on their resume or drop references to their church in the interview, I’d assume they’d probably gone to that college because their parents/family expected them to. (Or possibly refused to help pay for a college that wasn’t religious, because I’ve known people who had that situation.) I wouldn’t think it necessarily had anything to do with their actual beliefs.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Ditto—I also assume the parents played a decent role in a kid’s decision to attend a religiously affiliated university. If they’re otherwise a strong candidate, I just make sure to let them know that employees are evaluated on a range of behaviors including their ability to engage inclusively and ask for examples of how they do that.

  30. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    #2, had you gone to BYU-Hawaii like me you would only have people assuming you spent your entire college career partying on the beach LOL. I hate the bias, I spent a lot of time eating Luau food too :D

  31. Allyson*

    To the LW having top surgery, I’ve had a few friends go through this and recovery times definitely vary, but please don’t sell yourself short on time off to rest & heal. You are likely to need more than you think you will and especially if there are any complications which require additional recovery time. Nobody ever expects to be laid up for more than a few days, and the shortest I’ve ever seen anyone go back to work was two weeks after. Good luck and I hope it goes well.

    1. LW #3*

      Thank you for your kind words! Yeah I think I’d be pushing myself too hard just out of fear of using too many days, but I think ultimately, I wanna avoid any complications due to trying to go-go-go too soon after.

      Someone suggested above, using leave for the first week, taking the holiday week off, then working from home on week 3, if they’ll allow, and I think I may go with this plan.

  32. Frances*

    OP#2 if it helps, I’ve reviewed a bunch of candidates with BYU degrees over the years. I have never thought anything other than “Oh, good school.” and I’m a liberal working in a very liberal leaning organization.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yup. I’m in the west, and when I see that someone went to this school I assume that they grew up Mormon, or are just from the region. It’s a generally well-regarded school. I wouldn’t give it much more thought than that.

  33. YoMs.R-H*

    LW #2 – this past summer I was reviewing resumes and came across exactly this issue: a strong candidate whose only possible red flag was attending BYU. We work with a large LGBTQ+ population and I almost disqualified the candidate assuming that BYU Grad = homophobic. Long story short, I gave the candidate a courtesy interview, asked directly about queer issues… and it turned out the candidate was queer (and partnered with someone they met at BYU)!!

    They ended up being a great hire, but if/when they move on to another job, I’m going to encourage them to add some of their LGBTQ+ activism work (at BYU) to their resume to prevent future confusion.

    1. Minerva*

      LW with tattoos – you wouldn’t happen to be in Japan? A friend hires for preschools there ( foreign English teachers) and they definitely ban visible tattoos, and it wouldn’t be easy to get the policy changed.

      But I only mention it because it is a huge cultural difference he has had to explain to American/Canadian/European folks. Elsewhere I would be surprised.

      1. Mameshiba*

        If that were the case, I would expect this letter to contain details like “I just moved to a foreign country/Japan” or “I have a decade of experience but none in this country” because I don’t know how OP could have so much experience in childhood education/life in Japan/Asia in general and not know about this. It would have been an issue at OP’s previous job and is common social/cultural knowledge, it’s not something that suddenly comes up when changing jobs!

        And I highly doubt OP just moved to Japan as Japan is infamously stubborn about allowing new work visas right now.

    2. Attractive Nuisance*

      As a queer person and a religious minority, I don’t think you should say anything to your employee about their resume. The “confusion” seems like a you problem. And anyway, if your organization is affiliated enough with the LGBTQ population that you considered illegally disqualifying this person on the basis of their religion, wouldn’t their employment with you provide proof that they aren’t homophobic?

      1. Attractive Nuisance*

        (And to be clear – I am NOT trying to say that being affiliated with the LGBTQ population leads to religious discrimination. That, again, is a you problem.)

  34. J.B.*

    Lw3 – that’s a pretty stingy policy! Have you considered looking elsewhere? It might take too long for FMLA coverage but if you had more flexibility on when to schedule that. Or if you approach your current employer as OF COURSE they’ll support your necessary surgery can you borrow from future vacation/sick.

    I know not everyone will be decent and I wish you the best!

    1. LW #3*

      I am currently job searching, though hesitantly because besides the time off being kinda strict and no money for a raise this year, I very much enjoy my job, my boss, and my whole department. They’ve been very supportive since I started in mid 2020 and I’m a little bit fearful of going somewhere where the culture is more like my last job- toxic and draining. But I am looking, just not super actively.

      I’m not sure we’re allowed to borrow from future PTO, just because of how it’s all processed on Payroll’s end, but I can do some digging and find out! Thank you!

  35. cncx*

    Re LW2, I went to a university with a uh, less than stellar reputation for race relations. I’m a good two decades out from it and based in Europe so now my degree is more anecdata than anything (like for college football) but earlier in my career i did make it a point to bring it up casually in the interview process (my freshman year was one where they had a known “incident”) and create a situation where people could ask questions about where I stood. It was also helpful to me because I bristle HARD about Confederate imagery, so having a discussion also helped me have context at one employer where someone thought a rebel flag was funny.

  36. Dax*

    LW#1 – this MASSIVELY sucks. When I started my current job, I had extremely long hair, acrylic nails, and I exclusively wore skirts because of my religion (which is no longer my religion, thank the gods). On my first day here, after interviewing in a skirt with my long hair flowing and my fake nails obvious (by a manager who knew me very well from a previous company), I was told that there were zero exceptions to the skirt rule and I’d be expected to wear pants every day. I didn’t even own a pair at the time! I also learned that no nail polish or false nails of any kind were permitted, so I spent the evening of my first day at work getting them drilled off, which meant starting my new job with my nails trashed. I also learned that no metal clips or pins were permitted to hold up my hair, but it had to be restrained above my shoulders at all times. Imagine trying to tie up 4 feet of hair using only hair ties and no metal pins – and still trying to look professional. I literally cried. I thought I was going to have to quit, but I had no job to go back to, so I had to stick it out. My position is management-level (office work) in a standard manufacturing plant, so I had no reason to think there would be bizarre dress code rules, and not a word was said until after I was hired.

    Thankfully, things have gotten better. I used my influence and position to change the nail polish rule, and left the toxic religion that required me to have uncut hair and wear a skirt every day. But at the time, it totally sucked, and was a very alienating experience as a new hire.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      That pants rule is horrible.
      If you worked in a lab or in manufacturing, I could understand it somewhat.
      One place I worked, I had to wear slacks since I was in the lab. They said it was safety related, to prevent skin burns from spilled chemicals. I disagree, because it is a lot easier to wash something off your skin, rather than removing clothing and the pants keeping the chemical next to your skin.

      Now,(much different company) slacks and skirts depending upon the weather, but nothing to catch on moving equipment.

    2. Purple Cat*

      I work for a food manufacturer and when I supported Operations and could reasonably expect to go on the floor “at any time” I had to follow all the same GMP as the employees working the floor – so no nail polish. We hired a new HR manager who last minute didn’t start because she wouldn’t abide by the no nail polish rule because of her color street side gig….

    3. I take tea*

      No metal clips or pins in the hair? Would plastic be ok? Just hair ties sound like a disaster waiting to happen, honestly.

  37. LemonLyman*

    OP 4 – It’s a workplace email norm to close out a conversation like this with an indication that you’re both on the same page. A simple “Great! Looking forward to it!” would have sufficed. However I realize this isn’t intuitive to everyone.

    Several years ago, my SO used to not reply to text messages from family. For instance, if we were meeting his parents for dinner and we needed to know what time we should meet them, his mom might text and say “We will meet you at 7 at Restaurant.” He wouldn’t reply, thinking convo over. But she wasn’t sure if he saw it so she’d send me the same message with a “I haven’t heard from Mark so I don’t know if he got this” note. This happened several times with different people to the point where family started bypassing him and just texted me with a “I never know if Mark sees my messages” or “It seems like Mark doesn’t always get my texts” kind of comment. After we chatted about it, I explained that they need a quick confirmation so they know he saw their message. He’s gotten much better at these kinds of replies now and, as the big boss at work, he fully understands how helpful these closing the loop replies are in communication.

    I realize that this was just a miscommunication, but keep in mind that a habit of not closing the loop on emails in this manner can signal to others that you’re at best disorganized (because you miss emails) or at worst flippant (because you don’t confirm that you got the info and more than a couple ignores might even start as read passive aggressive).

    1. LW #4*

      I’ve started to realize that my intuitions are out of alignment with most people’s on this. My instinct is that once both parties have agreed to a time, that’s all that needs to be said (and I thought that my sending a list of times implied agreement to any of those times). But it seems that other people consistently like to go one layer deeper into the Two Generals problem than I do and are uncomfortable when that isn’t reciprocated. It’s something for me to work on, especially if it’s seen as passive aggressive. I appreciate the advice.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Thing is, while they do know you can make it, they don’t know whether you have seen their email in time. So it’s best to quickly confirm reception.
        I’m guilty of replying to lots of stuff in my head only, so I’ve definitely been there.

  38. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    LW3, I had a hysterectomy a couple of years ago when I had just started a new job, didn’t have enough leave accrued, and didn’t qualify for FMLA yet. Obviously my ex-uterus was not something I wanted to talk about at work, so I called it a “routine surgical procedure”, said I had been putting it off but couldn’t anymore, and asked for the time I needed unpaid. My boss and HR were sympathetic, didn’t pry, and let me go into negative leave to cover it. I ended up not needing the recovery time (apparently the rest of my body also hated my uterus?) but did work from home for a week so I didn’t have to put on real pants over the incision. This was pre-COVID and my WFH phobic workplace was OK with it. I’m guessing they figured if I really wanted to slack I would have taken all the leave or something. So, long story endless, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Most people when asking what surgery, are less curious about the procedure and more looking for how they should react (sympathy? sorrow?).

  39. TatsAreLife*

    LW1 the HR dept at your job has a very ridiculous policy. I’m not sure what they mean by gang tattoos, but like others have already said, people who are in gangs most likely wouldn’t work at a school or childcare center.

    I also have many visible tattoos and facial piercings. Some tattoos are on my hands/wrists and are almost impossible to cover. The only time I’ve ever been asked to remove my piercings was when I worked with psychiatric patients (they weren’t yet stabilized on the meds and were prone to violent outbursts). I’ve never been asked to cover my tattoos and would absolutely leave a job or decline an offer over a no tattoo policy. Of course, you may not have that option so if you don’t, just do what you gotta do for now, regardless of how ridiculous it is, until you can find a more open minded place. Then let them know that’s why you’re leaving. It’s not petty or shallow or whatever to leave a job over being lied to by omission, especially over something that’s such a large part of your identity.

    Tbh, I think you may find more acceptance working in the “inner city” as that environment tends to be way more accepting of tattoos and different appearances in general, even if you work with kids. If you live near an urban area, consider that instead.

  40. Former fundy*

    #2: Consider adding a statement of commitment to diversity, allyship to the LGBTQ+ community and others historically and presently excluded by the BYU/LDS church. I also grew up in a very religious environment (since have left) and I have helped friends who went to Liberty-type institutions update their application materials, and they included such a statement. It’s important that this statement isn’t performative, but is rather a display of values you now hold, especially as they align with an organization you may be applying to.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Ooh, I kind of like the statement of diversity in this case, which wouldn’t usually be something I’d go for. The thought did cross my mind that if I saw BYU and “LGTBQ outreach” I’d start to worry that the applicant was doing the opposite of what OP means – like trying to do religious counseling or even conversion stuff – so I’d want OP to craft that resume pretty carefully, but the statement gets the point across directly.

    2. Sylvan*

      That could work. OP could also note any volunteer work they’ve participated in.

      (I’m from a pretty prejudiced place, I have the accent to prove it, and my resume’s still pretty clear about where I actually stand.)

  41. Shenandoah*

    OP #1, my toddler is currently covered in temporary tattoos (including some plants). I bet he would find yours really cool.

    I completely agree with the other folks that the market for your field is extremely good right now, and given most of my kid’s teachers have had tattoos, I have to imagine yours won’t phase a lot of sane employers.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. My kid’s 5th grade teacher had green hair and the kids thought that was just so awesome. I was frankly jealous that he could get away with it. I wanted fun hair, too.

      OP might consider reaching out to the old center and asking if at least PT work is available – they may want/need subs – while OP gets this whole job/tattoo thing sorted. We had someone once who quit and asked to come back when the company they were going to wanted a certification they failed to mention in the interview process. Sometimes it happens and can be accommodated.

  42. lots of tattoos*

    #1: HR handled this really poorly, from the interview process to now. But now you know that this is something you need to explicitly ask about. I think you’ve gotten lucky so far, honestly. Lots of employers (regardless of industry) still have really conservative policies about tattoos and piercings. I did some temp work a few years ago and the temp agency told me I might have to remove my facial piercings and wear long sleeves to cover my tattoos to work for some of their clients. I’ve also worked at a bank where it didn’t matter as long as nothing was offensive. Some places might have a policy but enforce it.
    It really, really depends. For something like this that could be a dealbreaker, it’s going to hurt you in the long run if you keep thinking “they can see my tattoos/piercings and they’ll tell me if it’s a problem.” While your HR might have some bias against you (based on how they’re handling it), some people are shockingly unobservant or don’t make the necessary connection (this candidate has tattoos, need to cover our policy with them) if they don’t encounter it regularly.

    1. Esmeralda*

      A couple of years ago Whole Foods bought the local organic grocery store and instituted a no-visible tattoos, piercings anywhere not on the ears, ear plugs policy.
      Whole Foods. In a very liberal neighborhood.
      Employees who’d worked there for years were upset. Customers asked, flipped out when they heard. Privileged crunchy granola white people who had no problem complaining.
      That policy didn’t last long.

      1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        Holy moly, I used to work in HR at a food co-op and I’m just imagining how this would have gone down there. Pure mayhem. Possibly pitchforks.

        It’s nice when the privileged crunchy granola white people who complain use their powers for good, and not for evil. Heh.

  43. Hiring Mgr*

    Even besides the tattoo policy, I’d also be wary this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as parental meddling given what we see happening in US school districts these days. (MAUS, etc..)

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah, parents are the worst part of teaching and based on how the policy has been explained it sounds like this school doesn’t have strong boundaries for dealing with them.

  44. Lacey*

    OP2: I went to a religious college as well and while it’s not as well known, the name does basically scream, “THIS IS A RELIGIOUS COLLEGE” and that worked for me with some people, so I was always worried about it working against me with other people – especially my definitely not religious boss.

    But, since he started ranting to me about how awful people from my religion are on like my second week, I realized that he didn’t even register/remember the name of my university. He hired me because of my skill in particular areas and no other reason.

    Also, tons of my classmates are no longer religious or don’t subscribe to the particular version of our religion that our college. I imagine they also feel like they need to explain themselves, but also no one who talked to them for more than 5 minutes would imagine they were as conservative as our college was.

    1. Kayem*

      Same here. I got both my undergrad degrees at a private Catholic university. I am not now, nor have I ever been Catholic. I went there because my (also never been Catholic) spouse was employed there and they had a very, very generous tuition benefit program for spouses and dependents of employees. I have no idea if it’s hindered my job hunt, but I now have advanced degrees from two different public state universities, so I doubt employers in my field are even looking at where I went for undergrad.

  45. Murphy*

    That tattoo policy is so dumb. There are so many people who work with my child either at daycare or gymnastics classes that have visible tattoos or piercings and I can’t imagine having a problem with it! (I also have visible tattoos and purple hair so I may be a bit biased.) It’s even more egregious that they interviewed someone with nose rings and tattoos and didn’t think to mention this.

    There is some makeup that can cover tattoos as well. Not that I think OP should have to do this, but that can be another option.

  46. blackcat lady*

    LW#2: This is going to date me so, yes I’m old. I always got the giggles that former QB Jim McMahon went to BYU. He isn’t exactly the poster child for conservative behavior. Here’s hoping you get an interview and can get your values across.

    1. DEJ*

      There are a lot of stories that there was definitely some behavior by athletes back in those days that was overlooked at the time. You can’t get away with that in these days of social media and cell phone cameras.

  47. BorisTheGrump*

    Immigration lawyer here. Let me tell you I have my forearm tat AT THE READY for the next time some judge accuses a client of having gang tattoos. Off the blazer will come.

    (I also know people who have worn suits in “gang colors” to court to hunt that what are perceived as “gang colors” is highly dependent on the race and ethnicity of the person wearing them. Who’s going to argue with a blue and white suit?)

  48. Jam Today*

    Tangential to LW#1, but Dolly Parton is covered in tattoos (mostly butterflies) and its the reason she usually wears long sleeves.

    1. Live From Dollywood*

      Dolly has debunked this many times – she does have some tattoos, mostly to cover scars (for example she has a beehive tattoo over a feeding port scar from a time when she was very ill) but she is not “covered in tattoos” and does not have full sleeves. Not that it matters – we all love Dolly and tattoos are great :)

  49. WonkyStitch*

    Just wanted to post my best wishes to LW #3 with your surgery, hope everything goes well and you have a quick recovery! I had gastric bypass surgery last year, which is not something that was medically necessary, and I just told my employer “surgery” and everything was fine.

    Also with LW #4, I also would not have realized that the first instance required an email to confirm.

    1. LW #3*

      Thank you for your kind words! I don’t plan on disclosing the surgery details now that I know it’s probably not necessary.

  50. Sharpiee*

    #1 Repeatedly seeing an employee with arms wrapped up in bandages would be more unsettling than tattoos.

    1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*


      And, is the employer going to provide all those bandages? Or is the employee expected to shoulder that burden?

  51. 867-5309*

    LW2, I would not even clock BYU when looking at a resume, as it is not the same as Liberty, as Allison noted. It has an excellent academic record. If you are going to work within a LGBT-focused organization then you could, as mentioned, note any previous, similar volunteer work. However, even in that case, I think most hiring managers would assume you attended BYU for a good education and if you are now seeking roles supportive of the LGBT or other community, then you are highly likely to be supportive of said community and organization.

    Also, you are not the first student to attend BYU and later renounce the religion. It is surprisingly common – or at least not so uncommon that it affects your job prospects.

  52. Jigglypuff*

    LW #2,

    “It’s definitely not like having Liberty University on your resume” oh how I cackled at this. I attended Bob Jones “University,” which is far stricter and more conservative than Liberty (most of the students at Bob Jones would not have been permitted by their families to attend Liberty). Like LW2, I no longer ascribe to the beliefs espoused by my alma mater.

    In my case, I ended up with a masters degree from a real school, and I put that on my resume and leave my undergrad and first masters degree off entirely. I noticed a very marked difference in results from applying to jobs once I did that.

    Once I’m established at a job, I’m happy to mention in passing where I went to undergrad, but only in a “wow isn’t this a weird thing” kind of way, like, “My very strict undergraduate school actually required all dorm students to be in bed with the lights off at 11:00PM, isn’t that silly and weird?”

    1. Janey-Jane*

      I also chortled based on the number of liberty grads I know who went holding their noses (online programs that just ended making the most sense), or are non-religious now. It happens there too.

      1. Salymander*

        Yeah sometimes that is the only way to get a very strict and controlling family to let you go to college. I had a lot of friends who attended strict religious schools for that reason, and many of them left the church completely after graduating and getting a job. I went to community college and then transferred to non religious university, but I had to pay for everything myself because my family thought that I was betraying the church. It took me many more years to graduate and find a good job, but I am way too outspoken and independent to abide by the terribly restrictive rules for women at a fundie school, so I didn’t really have a choice.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Yeah. The side-eye I’ve given to a Liberty alum that I knew was because she was actively proud of being an alumnus. Like uh…it’s one thing if your parents made you go, but if you’re 40-something and all “It was a great school!” then that tells me the kind of person you are.

  53. Nancy*

    LW2: people do not care where you went to school 15 years ago. You don’t need to do anything but add it to your resume to show you have a degree when applying for jobs that require one.

  54. SK*

    LW#1, HR/the employer messed up here. They should have been upfront with the policy. I would be on alert for any behavior from them that suggests they want to fire you for frivolous reasons. Be cognizant of nit-picky behavior over mistakes that you weren’t aware you are making.

    A few years ago, I had a friend who got a job as a waitress at a prominent chain of sandwich shops. She had a large hand tattoo of an elephant, which was mostly covered up by her jacket sleeves when she went to interview. When she showed up for her first day of work, the store manager saw the tattoo and told her that she wouldn’t have been hired if they had seen the tattoo. From that point, she felt the store was purposely setting her up to get fired. They didn’t tell her the approved shades of nail polish, so she showed up wearing a no-no color one day. Finally, they claim a mystery shopper gave her a bad review and that’s why she was being fired. Honestly, it really felt like the tattoo was the issue.

    1. AsherCat*

      Approved shades of polish???? That is ridiculous. Though I could see my former workplace doing something like that. And that’s one of the many reasons why it’s “former” !

  55. I'm just here for the cats*

    ” I was given a large book of policies to review, including a dress code/appearance policy. The HR director had reviewed this with me during our in-person meeting before I accepted the position, going over almost all of the points listed except one: Employees may not have visible tattoos or facial piercings.”

    Does anyone else think that the HR person didn’t go over this policy on purpose? I bet they really wanted them and figured they wouldn’t accept if they knew the policy and figured that by the time they accepted and started it would have been too late for them to back out/ they would need the job.

    This is a policy that should be re-evaluated. IF there was an issue with employees having gang tattoos that should have been addressed with those people. And if it’s just that parents think that tattoos = gang well then maybe they should have some education then!

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I had a suspicion of “bad faith actors” and “they misjudged their power here, badly” while reading, yes.

  56. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#2 — I don’t know what field you work in but you say it’s been 15 years since you graduated from BYU. (Which, as Alison says, has a fine academic reputation.) At this point in your career, most hiring managers are going to be looking at your professional accomplishments, not your academic record. Move the education section of your resume to the bottom and check the AAM archives for advice on emphasizing your career accomplishments.

    My advice might be different if you’d just graduated, but you’re already 15 years into your career. Emphasize what you’ve achieved, not where you took your degree.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Yes, I agree. Especially if the OP has helped with any initiatives at work that would go against BYU’s ethics. For example if they were part of the Diverisity and inclusion efforts at a past job. And if they can add specific things they did such as “helped format D&I training focusing on Trans awareness” or something concrete that they can point to.

  57. anonymous73*

    #1 yes they handled it poorly, and could clearly see your facial piercings. But if you were wearing long sleeves or your tattoos weren’t visible during the interview, I can see why they wouldn’t mention it. I’ve never had an interviewer say anything to me about dress code/tattoo policy during an interview. While it shouldn’t be a big deal in 2022, I have worked in places where there was a “no visible tattoo” policy, so moving forward it would probably be best to ask during the interview process.

    1. anonymous73*

      And now I realize I missed the part about going thru the policies BEFORE they hired you. Yes they suck, big time.

      Educators are in high demand these days. I know job hunting is a pain, but I’d consider looking elsewhere. The fact that their reasoning went directly to “gang-related tattoos” and that they bow down to irrational parents would have me running for the hills.

  58. Foobar*

    To LW2/All the folks saying anyone who would be reluctant to hire LW2 because of a BYU degree is a jerk, on the one hand, yes. But on the other hand, as a non-Mormon living in Utah, the LDS church comes across as corrupt and oppressive, and does active, daily harm to a *lot* of people who aren’t white men. It’s not wrong for someone who’s been burned by the LDS church to be concerned about bringing someone connected to it onto the team, especially into a position of leadership. They shouldn’t reject on the basis of BYU degree on its own, but they are absolutely within their rights to screen extra hard for “will this person accept a female manager/give *all* of their direct reports equal opportunity/force Mormon culture on the org even though others don’t share it/etc?”

    1. Observer*

      As someone who has strong reason to have no love for the LDS church, I have to disagree with you. There is a HUGE difference between someone in leadership and someone who went to the college 15 years ago.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      Also, I think the area will depend as well. If they are still in Utah area that thought may be more prevalent than in another region like the Midwest. I’ve lived/grew up in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin area and in my small home town there was a small LDS church. I was even best friend with members and went to some of their church youth events.

      But people didn’t have the same reaction in my area. Granted some people were jerks and prejudice, but it was more the “multiple wives” thing (which I know is not part of the mainstream LDS).

      So if the OP has moved away from Utah area all together I don’t think they will have as much of a problem

    3. Curious*

      No, they would not be “within their rights” to treat an applicant differently because of their religion. It would be just as wrong — and illegal! — to discriminate against a member of LDS by “screening extra hard” as it would be to screen someone who is Islamic “extra hard.”

      1. Foobar*

        Curious, asking additional questions to make sure someone isn’t a misogynist or homophobe isn’t illegal. It’s part of doing due diligence, in the same way that you’d probe extra hard in any area of a candidate’s resume where you had questions/concerns. Not hiring them just because of their religion would be illegal. Not hiring them because a core tenant of their personal belief system is that women are inferior to men and belong in the home or that gay people shouldn’t exist if they’ll be working with women or gay people is quite reasonable. Figuring out whether the latter is the case requires asking questions. And if you think I’m exaggerating re: misogyny and homophobia, try googling info about the Utah gender wage gap (worst in the nation) or the recent federal investigation into BYU for abuse of LGBTQ students. There are plenty of BYU grads pushing for equality, too, so like I said, I’d be asking questions, not making assumptions, but I’d also have a duty not to create a hostile work environment for female or non-cis employees…

  59. AsherCat*

    #1 – LW, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I also have some large floral tattoos on my arms, though they are higher up and easily covered by my clothes – though my dream is to get full sleeves (and neck!). I also have a nostril piercing. Switching the ring to a stud for safety reasons sounds reasonable (possibly – my 3 year old keeps getting her hair wrapped around my stud and yanking on it), but the new company’s policy is bonkers. I would push back if you can, which I know isn’t an easy thing to do. You might also comply with the policy for a while (as in, keep on your mask but don’t remove your studs, wear the sun protection sleeves), but then slowly pull back on those things as time goes on and your workplace can see how awesome you are. I hate to even suggest that because you shouldn’t have to accommodate a stupid-ass rule, but depending on your circumstances, sometimes we have to work with what we’ve got.

    For future jobs, I would make sure your tattoos are very visible – roll your sleeves up, make sure you can see them in the video (if doing video). If it’s an in-person interview I imagine you’ll be wearing a mask for a while, but with video interviews they can see your piercings. I would also ask about it (and the general dress code) before getting to the offer stage.

    Side note – I can totally see my old workplace having a similar policy. I worked at a very conservative university for a couple years, and their dress code was soooo strict and I hated it. It was also very sexist. The worst part was that it wasn’t enforced equally – if you were part of the “special crowd” you could get away with all sorts of crap, but the rest of us peons had to adhere to the letter. I work at a big state school now for the last 12 years and it’s a breath of fresh air. We’ve got lots of people in all level of positions with piercings, tattoos, fun hair, you name it.

  60. theletter*


    Have you checked with the hiring manager and/or your line manager regarding the tattoo policy? It sounds like the HR manager is seriously out of touch, and maybe doesn’t get into the playrooms very often. If they get called out on their outdated policies by someone further up the chain, they might back down.

    For one thing, ‘gang-related’ does sound like a racist dog-whistle from the ye olde 90’s. It sounds like they haven’t read their own policity in the past fifteen years.

    Secondly, when we say it’s 2022, we mean the world has fundamentally changed. The demand for daycare far outstrips the supply. The HR manager is being petty at their own risk.

  61. ChaosBiscuits*

    Although not quite the same, #1 reminds me of the letter from someone who started a new job only to learn it was a dog-friendly workplace – and they were allergic to dogs. There was no mention of this during the interview or hiring stage, no mention of it on the website. No dogs where present during the interview. It was such an oversite on the employers part.

    I feel the same way towards today’s tattoo OP, to have such a strong anti-tattoo policy and not mention it at all during the interview or hiring – when they have visible tattoos! – what were they thinking? I would be seriously considering checking with my old employer to see if they would hire me back, or else keep looking.

    1. Daisy Gamgee*

      I was just about to write a comment making this comparison! I will instead simply concur with yours.

  62. Dave H*

    #1 The previous job where they asked you to wear studs instead of rings was probably for your own safety as well. You said you happily obliged and probably saw that it was a reasonable request.

    As for the parents worried about “gang-related tattoos” on the school’s teachers and staff, sounds like a certain swath of parents at a school district I worked at many years ago. The fact that the school caved to their demands like that is also somewhat alarming to me unless there was more context behind it (an incident, lawsuit, etc.)

    I agree it’s unfortunate that you’re still dealing with that sort of attitude but like others have said, you’re bound to find a good place to work in your field. It sounds like you really care about children and enjoy working with them, which is the most important thing.

  63. Office Rat*

    I am covered in tattoos. My face is clear but from my wrists to my neck I am covered. I work in a conservative financial field and am on a diversity committee for other non-tattoo-related reasons. The dress policy was being revamped to specifically include head scarves and natural black hair.

    We can’t fill positions, and I pointed out that the tattoo policy wasn’t helping them either. It’s not enforced in my team, and I wear polos and rolled up sleeves with it all showing. We haven’t had a complaint in all the years I have done this, and more often than not, when I meet with heads of companies, they often show me there tattoos, or say nothing. We’ve had no complaints.

    This wasn’t something the older more conservative HR folks had even considered to be a problem, and it ended up with our policy being changed to no “inflammatory imagery or slogans” as our tattoo policy. We specifically were dealing with tattoos for white pride and nazi imagery, which was everyone’s biggest concern. Funny, gang-related tattoos didn’t even come up, but we are diverse racially and that concern is definitely a dog whistle for racism.

    We had some discussions that in this day and age, we are reducing our candidate pool with strict dress code and tattoo policies and if we want to be competitive, that might help. We are stuck on wages, but we are opening up benefits such as time off, and work from home, and now dress code.

  64. IWatchtheSuperBowlFortheAds*

    LW #3 I was able to do something similar to what you’re asking for with transition related surgeries (back in the early 2000’s). It was simple and I did not have to give details – in fact the HR person told me the less detailed the simpler as mostly they want to know what I need and if it’s medically related whether FMLA will be used and the dates.

  65. Michelle Smith*

    LW#3 – No need to provide your diagnosis or anything like that for an ADA accommodation. I just went through the process recently and it was not required. It is no different than if you needed the time to recover from a mastectomy.

    Good luck with your procedure and I hope you have a swift recovery.

  66. Elenna*

    For OP#1, I really wonder if they would have enforced the tattoo policy if OP hadn’t said anything. Could definitely be wrong but the interviewers/HR not saying anything feels to me like “OP doesn’t fit our stereotypical image of a gang member (aka they’re not black*), so we’re just going to quietly pretend this policy doesn’t exist for them.”

    If I were OP, I’d be tempted to just not cover the tattoos and see if anyone says anything. Of course this only works if you’re willing to get in trouble over it and maybe find a new job. Otherwise, the light cycling sleeves someone mentioned above are a great option.

    *Of course I don’t know OP’s race, this is just speculation.

    1. RagingADHD*

      There are all kinds of reasons why policies get written, and sometimes the people in charge of enforcing them think they are stupid and don’t care (or actively oppose it), but they don’t have the authority to change it officially.

      That may be the case here. For all we know, the parent that made the stink in the first place is probably long gone, but some higher-up now thinks this is vital to retaining clients. So the HR person was flippant because they don’t personally care, but they had to say something because LW asked.

      Whatever the reasoning, if someone saw me in person and didn’t say anything, I probably wouldn’t say anything either and wait for someone else to make an issue of it.

  67. yala*

    Anyone else think kids would be more unnerved by arms completely wrapped in bandages than some flowers and plants?

    1. singularity*

      Yep, and they will continually ask her about it.
      “Are you hurt?”
      “No, I’m fine!”
      “Why are you wearing bandages on your arms?”
      Way to draw attention to the thing that you’re trying to cover up. Kids will be curious and they’ll find out they exist.

    2. Salymander*

      Yes. This policy is ridiculous.

      I have a tattoo. It is covered by clothing, but you can see it if I am wearing a swimsuit. When I worked as a nanny, there was one family that expected me to take their kids swimming and actually get in the po with them. The parents got all upset by my rather small and not at all violent or scary tattoo. The kids just thought it was weird, and asked me why I put a temporary tattoo on my hip. When I said it was a permanent tattoo, the kids immediately lost interest. They had swimming to do, and the tattoos of a grownup were just not that exciting in comparison. Fortunately, most of the families didn’t belong to the no tattoos club, so the pearl clutching was limited.

    3. Salymander*

      This is 100% correct.

      I was thinking that boxing hand wraps are washable and would work fairly well, but then these ridiculous people will think OP is going to be boxing in the classroom. And actual bandages will be expensive to wear, as they will need to be replaced frequently when they get dirty, and the parents will think OP is unhygienic. Maybe OP should get wrist braces like people with carpal tunnel use. Because a lot of unnecessary and impractical crap covering the hands and arms is far better than showing kids some flower tattoos that they would likely notice once and then never think about again. FFS

  68. PurpleHeartsRed*

    I went to a school that should change its name but refuses. I use a common nickname for the school when referring to it, can’t do anything about the full name on my resume. I recently changed jobs, and worried that I’d have trouble. Maybe I did, I’ll never know, but folks who get to know me know quickly that I’m not the typical grad from that place.

    Regarding Liberty U, I have worked with many who went there because they are veteran friendly and have an unmanned aircraft program. I’m not a fan, but those reasons are both legit.

  69. That IT Guy*

    I take a bit of issue with this part of the advice to LW1:

    “Had I accidentally hired someone without informing them of a policy that was going to be a massive pain in the ass for them, I’d be apologizing and asking if the job would still work for them …”

    No. You hired them. Even if it’s an accident, that’s on you, not on them. You find a way to make the policy work around them, not the other way around. If that means one person gets special treatment, then so be it. If that means an unnecessarily old-fashioned, backward-thinking policy finally gets nuked from orbit, even better.

    1. Purple Cat*

      What? Just because one person (deliberately or accidentally) fails to inform an employee of a policy, that doesn’t mean that policy all of a sudden goes out the window. I completely agree that this policy should get blown up, but they shouldn’t be making an exception for LW just because she wasn’t informed of it in advance.

      1. That IT Guy*

        Yes, because the hiree–the victim of a completely arbitrary policy–shouldn’t have to bear the burden of the company’s mistake (or outright dishonesty). It’s no different than not being incorrectly informed about compensation, schedule, or any other critical part of employment.

        LW1 *quit their job already* to take this. This happened *on their first day*. I’m sorry, but the employer needs to find a way to make this work, not the employee. A half-hearted apology and “Will this job still work for you” is not an ethical solution to this issue.

    2. JustSomeHickFromDC*

      If by “a bit” you mean “a whole heck of a lot” I totally agree. You could offer to employ them until they find a better fit, offer them a couple of months’ pay as “severance”, or at the very, *very* least, agree not to contest unemployment.

      I’m really disappointed with that part of Alison’s response and the near-total failure to call it out in the comments. Just because something’s accepted doesn’t make it acceptable. When someone is going to suffer because of something you’ve done (or not done), being a good person means doing right by them, even in business—period, end of story, not up for discussion. I’m doing a lot of judging right now, and not just of the HR lady in the OP.

      1. That IT Guy*

        Yeah, exactly. I checked to make sure I wasn’t just piling on and I was shocked to find out that no one had commented on this. While the HR person has no legal obligation to do anything here, I would say they do have a moral and ethical obligation to the point that I don’t know how they sleep at night if this is normal behavior for them.

    3. OhNo*

      You said exactly what I couldn’t articulate. The response to LW1 bothered me but I just couldn’t explain why. It’s the the employee’s problem that HR didn’t tell her about no tattoos during the interview. This is just part of employers getting away with whatever and doing whatever to workers and the worker just has to take it.

      Just like you said, the LW should either get special exception since the HR person wasn’t clear on the policy, or they need to change the policy. It shouldn’t become the poor worker’s problem when the company isn’t up front.

  70. AllieGator*

    I’m angry on behalf of LW#1. They are so right about the staffing crisis in daycare centers right now. The center my child is at (and any center) would be so lucky to have someone with their qualifications and tattoos SHOULD NOT MATTER! I wish them the best of luck and hope this position works out or they find one that’s a better fit!

  71. J3*

    LW #4– The wording here is kind of important, but if the HR rep’s language in your letter is verbatim, I think they were the ones who dropped the ball here. Yes, it would have been better all around if you’d written back to confirm, but if someone says “I have us scheduled” my assumption is that it’s all set unless anyone states otherwise.

    1. LW #4*

      “I have us scheduled” is verbatim. Yeah, that’s the part that threw me; it sounded like it was happening regardless of my input! In the future I’ll definitely err on the side of writing back though.

    2. That IT Guy*

      Agreed. Had I been the recipient of that email, I’d have assumed it was a done deal and at most sent back a quick thanks just to be polite.

  72. Spicy Tuna*

    OP2 – I’ve worked with a few Jewish and Muslim people that went to Notre Dame and Catholic University and no one has said anything or made any assumptions. I also live in an area with a lot of immigration from Latin America – so many universities in Latin America have “Católica” in their name. Not everyone who attended is necessarily Catholic. I wouldn’t overthink the BYU issue. You don’t necessarily have to adhere to the religion to attend the university.

  73. Homebody Houseplant*

    I am so tired of appearance discrimination against people with piercings, tattoos, unconventional hair colors etc. What about it is “unprofessional?” That boomers might judge me? Oh no I’m so scared!

    Seriously. The company I work for says nothing about appearance other than being “professional” in our dress code. But when I asked global HR specifically about piercings and tattoos, they said that they don’t contribute to a professional appearance and might make clients and colleagues uncomfortable. That doesn’t sound like my problem, that sounds like they need to be less judgmental of someone’s outward appearance and focus on the service and quality of work.

    What I do with my body is my business. As long as I’m doing my job well and my behavior and dress is neat and professional, I can’t get over the fact that a place that benefits from my labor can tell me what I can and can’t do with my body.


    1. Emily*

      Well, there was that French kindergarten teacher who made himself look like a demon from Pan’s labyrinth or something with black pupils and scary tattoos on his entire body? It was amazing that he kept his job despite a child’s mother complaining he gave her child nightmares (frankly it would give me nightmares too). That was extreme and while I normally don’t see problems with tattoos per se, if you are overall actually going for a terrifying or intimidating look it’s fair that you are asked not to teach at a school. Doesn’t sound like the case with OP2 of course.

    2. FullSleeves*

      I’m so glad someone mentioned this! Tattoo discriminations is a real real thing! As someone with full sleeves and finger tattoos (also all nature themed) I’m amazed how many looks/stares I get on the daily basis. I have a t-shirt that says “Tattooed and Employed” and once had a stranger say to me “I’m sure, as a waitress or stripper!” I was absolutely shocked that someone who doesn’t know me would say that to a complete strangers face. My tattoos, admittedly, are full color-block, color-realism by nationally recognized artists (think cover of Inked Magazine artists), so I get the impression that often times people are simply shocked that tattoo art is exactly that, ART! That said, I get stopped on the street, asking for pictures of them, can they touch them, staring, etc. etc.

      I never mention my tattoos in interviews because, just as the letter writer mentioned, I want to be hired based off my qualifications and I don’t think my tattoos or lack there of should have anything to do with it. I do however ALWAYS ask if there is a dress code before I accept my offer, and I get verbal confirmation that visible tattoos are allowed. I almost always get approval for visible tattoos before I show the extent of what ink I have in my skin, since I do get such dramatic reactions. I feel like they say ‘visible tattoos’ are acceptable without realizing how significant mine are, but then they can’t go back on it. I’m sorry this happened to you! And I’m sorry people react so strangely to the ink in our skin.

      1. Salymander*

        Wow. The person who called out your tattoos like that is a huge jerk! Your tattoos sound amazing.

        I have one tattoo that is only visible if I am in a bikini or similar. When I was younger, I would use it as a way of screening out unsuitable romantic partners. There were a few I had to give the boot to because they made a comment about me having a tattoo that was really sexist and gross. I imagine that dealing with that kind of garbage while you are just trying to do normal daily life type stuff would be really exhausting. What a lot of jackasses.

  74. Emily*

    Regarding OP3’s question – can one always get ADA accommodations for surgeries even if they are elective? Not suggesting this is the case for OP3, just wondering what happens for say LASIK or breast enhancements that are purely cosmetic. I could imagine a manager being sour about somebody needing months to recover from, say, a botched cosmetic surgery, but does the law protect the employees for these kinds of needs?

  75. FinallyGotItDone!*

    #3: I just had top surgery four weeks ago on a Tuesday, and I couldn’t be happier!

    I had the whole deal — drains and compression. Because I was short on sick leave/vacation, I took three sick days off (Tues, Wed, Thurs) and worked from home on that Friday. The next Monday was a holiday (MLK Day), so I WFH Tues-Friday. Considering the meds I was on (gabapentin and a muscle relaxer; I didn’t take any opioids), it was doable, but it was rough. I had some awesome help from coworkers, though. From the third week on, I’ve been fine.

    I didn’t tell anyone what kind of surgery I was having. No one asked, and I didn’t want to tell anyone yet.

    And, finally, congratulations on doing something for yourself. It’s a great feeling!

    1. LW #3*

      Thank you! The surgeon I’m going with doesn’t use drains, so I won’t have to deal with that. My workload is never super urgent or stressful, so even if I’m in and out of it, I think I could manage just answering emails and cleaning up data, which is what I’m usually doing day in and day out.

      I mentioned above that I think I’ll just end up taking the whole first week off, then enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday week, and working from home on week three before returning back to the office. But I’m glad to hear that your procedure went well! I’d rather avoid opioids myself lol.

      Thanks you for your insight!

      1. Sky Dragon*

        Hey, LW #3.
        I’m nonbinary, and I also want to get top surgery, but I’m a bit nervous about it. I’m scared of pain and I’m nervous about situations that I don’t know anything about. (I have Major Anxiety, Depression, and ADHD.)
        Are there some things you can tell me that will help me prepare myself for when I do get top surgery?
        I’d be really grateful for any advice you can give me.
        Thank you, LW #3.

        1. FinallyGotItDone!*

          Sky Dragon, people’s tolerance of pain varies a great deal. I’m pretty good with pain from surgery, but others need more help. For me, the temporary pain from the surgery was very much worth it. I’m nonbinary and had no trouble finding a doctor who would perform the surgery. I had to pay for it myself, because my insurance wouldn’t cover it, but there are some insurance companies that will.

          I found a lot of info by just googling “top surgery.” You might start here: Also, there are lots of top surgery and nonbinary groups on places like Facebook and reddit. You might check those out, too.

        2. marvin the paranoid android*

          Hey, I’m not LW3 but I second the recommendation to find an online group specific to top surgery, or a more general one about transmasculine/non-binary support, which usually have a fair amount of top surgery content. A lot of people are open about all of the details of their experience, which you might find helpful. If you have an idea of what surgeon you’re interested in, they might have some additional details on their website that are specific to their practice. For what it’s worth, most people I’ve heard from say that their pain was not very severe, many people describe it as similar to a sunburn or soreness from working out. I’ve heard from a number of people that the itchiness and discomfort of the compression vest was the worst part. It might also be helpful to look into the various surgery types (keyhole vs. double incision, nipple grafts or no nipple grafts, drains or no drains) to get a sense of what might be most comfortable/appropriate for you. I have a lot of medical anxiety and I personally have found it really reassuring to gather as much information as possible in advance. Good luck! <3

  76. RagingADHD*

    LW3: Surgery is surgery is surgery. The only time your employer needs to be involved with the reasons for a procedure is if it was an on the job injury. Otherwise, all they need to know is how long you need to recover and/or what kind of accommodations you need.

  77. Avery*

    LW #3, I went through the same thing a few months ago, with the added wrinkle that it was a new job. I just said “surgery” and it was fine, no prying questions or the like. I will say, though, that you may not feel up to working even from home a few days after the surgery–maybe you could try to schedule it for the middle of that week so you only have to use a couple days of leave and then you’d be on break anyway? WFH on the tail end of recovery seems more realistic to me than WFH only a couple days after what is fairly major surgery, when you’re likely still on painkillers and the like.

  78. Middle Name Danger*

    LW3, I framed my top surgery as “just something I need to take care of,” as suggested here! Nobody really questioned it. I was worried people might think of it as elective or cosmetic and wonder why I was allowed to take off more than my PTO, but it’s genuinely for your overall health and well-being.

    Just a warning to make sure you don’t give a firm return date when you make arrangements. I had to take a week longer than anticipated before returning to the office, because my drains had to stay in a few extra days. Double incision is a very intense surgery and can be a rough recovery. (If you’re getting something like keyhole surgery that might be different.)

    I don’t say this to scare you, I don’t regret it at all, but I’d be clear when asking for accommodation that it is a major surgery.

  79. ndawn90*

    To LW#2 –

    Fellow ex-Mo here. I don’t have any advice, but I do have friends/relatives who went to BYU and later left the church. In one case, I have a friend who was in his last semester of his Bachelor’s degree when his ultra-Mormon mother found out he was gay. She sent a letter to the school basically outing her son, and he was kicked out for violating the “Honor Code”, not because he actually violated anything that’s actually written in the Honor Code but simply because he’s gay. He was left with all of his student loans and no degree.

    I hope for your sake that people generally understand that just because you went to BYU, that doesn’t mean you agree or support anything they stand for, but I also hope that people understand that there are real people like my friend who are hurt by the homophobic, bigoted actions of the LDS Church and their affiliates, and push back on it.

  80. CommanderBanana*

    Someone explain to me how walking around with bandage covered arms is supposed to be less ‘disruptive’ than having tattoos?

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      I know, right? That’s absolutely ridiculous. As a young child, I would have been pretty freaked out by a teacher with arms perpetually covered in bandages.

      That rule sounds like it was made by some old-fashioned fuddyduddy with a major stick up … well, you know!

  81. Casey*

    Hi OP3! I’m also non-binary and had top surgery a couple years ago. Just for your own reference, I was pretty dazed and out of it for about a week – after that, I was able to work from home just fine. The specific wording I used with my boss was “hey, wanted to let you know I’m planning to take some time off in May for a medical procedure. Don’t worry, I’m okay! It’s more of a quality of life thing, but it would be super helpful if I could work from home while recovering. Is that alright with you?” For me, that hit the appropriate level of information while still being vague/breezy enough to avoid talking about either my body or gender identity in great detail. (I work in a pretty conservative industry, obviously you can share as much as you’re comfortable with!)

  82. SwampWitch85*

    LW 1: Instead of bandages (do we want to use rotary phones and dial-up internet, too?) there are cosmetics that cover the scary scary tats and are waterproof. I’d ask your HR since they weren’t clear about this policy despite seeing your tattoos, they could at least cover the cost of the makeup as a uniform stipend. I did that and they balked and changed the policy instead of providing me $36 bucks a month for makeup. Also, ask for clarification what “gang tattoos” mean because we all know that’s just coded racism especially in an area where there were probably never any gangs or gang activity ever. I also did that and asked if “gang tattoo” include Neo N*zi, Wh*te Supremacist tattoos, or any kind of hate group insignia and neato presto, the policy was rewritten to include that language.

    1. GreenDoor*

      I was going to comment on the “gang tattoo” justification for this stupid policy. We’re talking about an early childhood provider, right? I would hope that any organization that provides direct services to children does employee background checks? Wouldn’t that be far more effective at screening out people who are committing gang-related crimes? Sounds like a policy based on stereotyping and baseless fear. I have a trio of purple flowers tattooed on my ankle. Tell me, to which gang do I belong??

  83. CupcakeCounter*

    #3 I have several family members who work in health care and their recommendation would be to try to book the surgery for the Thursday before Thanksgiving week (which I believe you have off already) and take those 2 days off. Then you have 2 PTO days, 4 weekend days, and 5 preset closure days for 11 days of recovery. Then request WFH for the entire next two weeks, while stating that you will reassess after the first week of WFH.

    As for how to request it, just say “I have surgery scheduled for Nov 17 so I will need the 17th and 18th off. Since I won’t be completely recovered by the 28th, I would like permission to WFH at least the two weeks after Thanksgiving so ensure proper recovery.”

  84. Kayem*

    I often wonder about future tattoo policies when I apply for jobs, especially when they say “no visible tattoos” and/or “no facial tattoos.” Sure, I can cover my arms and back with just a shirt, but tattooed eyeliner still counts as both visible and facial, especially since I don’t wear any other makeup. I think that most places don’t think that far ahead when they make these policies, associating facial/visible tattoos with some sort of nebulous and undefined criminal activity.

    I always wonder if it’s better to start off a job by lying when I sign the dress code policy documentation or disclose it and risk losing the job if the employer has a zero tolerance policy.

    1. RagingADHD*

      If nobody would know it was a tattoo without being told, I question whether that counts as a “visible tattoo.” There are people who get corrective tattoos to conceal a scar – it is technically visible, but someone who didn’t know the scar was there at all wouldn’t discern it.

  85. Tab*

    As someone who grew up in Lynchburg, seeing the Liberty mention made me chuckle. I will say that I have multiple friends who went there for nursing because their nursing and aviation degrees are actually surprisingly good. But I would agree that their other programs are much less… Rigorous. (My Mom is a teacher at a local school that doesn’t take on education practicum students from Liberty any more because they can’t do basic busy work like making copies or stapling papers, and the teachers had to redo all their work constantly.)

    Also, I know people who went to Liberty because of financial reasons or because that’s the only school their conservative parents approved. They’ve also put a LOT of money into advertising their online programs, so people could sign up for that and never know about all the nonsense that happens on campus. So I think it’s unfair to judge someone for having Liberty on their resume unless they give off a very conservative/ religious vibe.

  86. Rana*

    If I saw BYU on a resume I would definitely think “oh, they’re likely Mormon or their family is” but I would not immediately think “they hate gay people” or whatever other stereotype. I work in a very liberal tech startup in San Francisco that has a few Mormon employees and as far as I know no one has batted an eye at that part of their identity (like anything else, it is a part of them that they do not hide but is also not the first/only thing you know about them). I certainly do not assume that they ascribe to every single thing the Mormon church decrees, the same way I don’t assume that about Catholics.

    In some senses, working in a very liberal field/area might actually work in your favor. I know my company tries to be scrupulous on “we only evaluate people on what they are bringing to work,” initially inspired by combatting racism/sexism/etc. but also extending to conservative politics (we have several people like that, though it is true that the public discourse heavily skews liberal) and all kinds of religions. You might be given a better chance in that environment than in the southern Bible Belt, for example.

    All that to say – there may be some people that look askance at BYU and I do think it is a great idea to include anything that would combat those stereotypes in your resume (and if you were interviewing at a LGBTQ nonprofit or something like that I would address it in your cover letter), but overall I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    1. Lucy Skywalker*

      LW #2: I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Remember, the people of the most liberal state (Massachusetts) elected Mitt Romney (a devout Mormon) as their governor.

  87. Chestnuts*

    I had a chest reduction and it took me 3 weeks to feel like a person again. For more intensive surgery or full chest removage, it may take longer to feel normal and be able to focus on work. Some people are fast healers, some aren’t, but it might be really hard to type and computer and brain for a while as you recover. Do you think they’ll expect you to be operating at full capacity and for 8+ hour days, or will they be more forgiving? You might want to weigh that in your asks. Do they offer short-term disability that you could make use of where you would receive some pay?

  88. CaliCougar*

    My dad has dealt with potential employers in California seeing that he graduated from BYU, and clearly rejecting him based on that. Religious discrimination can hit in a lot of ways. It’s something to be aware of.

  89. Megan*

    Ex-Mormon BYU grad here too and I also really struggle with this. One of the hardest parts of the situation is that aspects of my upbringing and 20s were downright traumatic and I hate talking about my early adulthood because of it. If people bring it up, I often say, “I am no longer a practicing Mormon and prefer not to discuss it,” but I HATE having it on my resume. I have two kids and one is gay and one is transgender. It pains me to no end that someone would see my educational history and assume I am intolerant of anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve found all I can do is live my current values and let them speak for themselves but I wish there was an alternative to listing my university on my resume and LinkedIn.

  90. Green Mug*

    I’m reading these comments about Liberty and feeling distressed. We just looked at Liberty for our son. I’d never heard of it, but my son has a friend who goes there and loves it. The campus is beautiful, the buildings are state of the art, and the students are friendly and helpful, even the students who we encountered after the official tour. Why are people saying Liberty is not a real school? Our impression was overwhelmingly positive. I know they have to take some religion classes, but so does my other son who attends a Jesuit university. If he chooses Liberty, will he experience life long animosity in the job market?

    1. Jen*

      You really need to do more research. It’s a highly discriminatory place and the founder has engaged in some extremely nasty practices. I’m going to include some links in a separate post below. Do not saddle your kid with the reputation of having gone there.

    2. Rainy*

      There is a pretty big difference between a Jesuit institution of higher learning and Liberty University. Even just googling will yield some pretty illuminating results, I expect.

    3. Al*

      As someone from VA, Liberty is considered an absolute joke of a school. The only people I know who went there for undergrad were extreme fundamentalist Christian conservatives with poor grades. I know two people who went for grad school, one because she wanted to work in “Christian counseling” and the other cause he got a full ride. The friend with the scholarship ended up repeating the degree elsewhere and omits that he went to school there from his resume.

      There are lots of schools in VA that don’t have the baggage of Liberty. Even conservative ones in the same part of the state, if you’re so inclined.

    4. Salymander*

      Please do much more research. The sect of Christianity that Liberty, Bob Jones, and the like promote is full of really terrible sexism and bigotry. It is far beyond the stuff you see at other schools, including the other religious ones. Sexual abuse is covered up, people are discriminated against, and everyone just keeps smiling like nothing is wrong. It seems lovely because they have a really happy, clean, mannerly facade, but underneath is much less great. I grew up in this sect. It is really problematic. Some of the programs at Liberty might not be too bad, but overall they are not well respected or academically rigorous. They target people who want online classes or who are in the military as a way of expanding the reach of their church. They can be appealing for young men because it is less oppressive for young men than it is for young women. But do you want your son to learn at a university that endorses sexism? Do you want him to be taught that church leaders are to be obeyed always, and women should be subservient to men at all times? If you are looking at universities that are associated with a church, there are many other schools to choose from that don’t practice such terrible sexism and bigotry. I speak from my own, very painful experience, having grown up in this church. Please rethink this.

    5. Observer*

      If he chooses Liberty, will he experience life long animosity in the job market?

      That’s not the only question you should be asking.

      One thing you might want to look at is what their “Honor Code”, school rules and campus rules are. That will tell you a LOT about what values the school has.

      Also, look at WHAT KIND of religion classes your kid has to take. There can be fundamental differences between the kinds of classes that are being required, so you want to have a sense of what’s going to be pushed.

      1. Rainy*

        Yeah–honestly, some possible future occasional animosity on the job market would be the least of my concerns. I’d be more worried about what kind of attitudes the school is trying to inculcate. Particularly considering the school’s attitudes around sexual assault.

  91. clearlyMillennial*

    1- businesses are supposed to be desperate to hire, so I would find somewhere else to work. that’s a ridiculous policy.

  92. Phony Genius*

    With the discussions about tattoo policies, it’s worth pointing out that even Disney changed their employee tattoo policy last year, allowing visible tattoos that fit within certain specific parameters (below the neck, no violent images, etc.), after previously prohibiting it. Their guests are going to have to get used to it.

  93. DJ Abbott*

    #1, Hi got a forearm tattoo last fall and wrapped it in bandages while it healed because I was working in a deli.
    Bandages are not cheap! I bought a roll of self stick bandages plus some tape, and then another roll, and IRRC altogether it was almost $10.
    Maybe your employer could buy or reimburse you for the bandages? Not holding my breath on that.

  94. clownfish*

    OP #3 – best of luck and congratulations on your upcoming surgery! I had top surgery last August – double incision without drains – and after two weeks was just barely ready to go back to work in the office. I’d recommend taking the time off, and if possible asking to WFH after that. Even with the painkillers and lots of rest, my chest muscles were so tensed I couldn’t fully straighten up for almost a month. My workplace doesn’t offer sick pay so I ended up using my vacation time, but no regrets, as I really needed the time to recuperate and heal at home. Never mentioned to my boss what the time was for, just ended up letting them know (in a non-asking way) that I was having a surgery on such-and-such date and would need to take some time off.
    Wishing you all the best! :))

  95. MicroManagered*

    LW2, I think that fifteen years out of college, prospective employers are looking more at your work history than your education. Some may not even know what BYU is or care.

  96. Cringing 24/7*

    LW1: Oof and ugh and ew. The moment I read parental concern about “gang-related” tattoos, my immediate thought was, “Oh, you mean non-white people with tattoos you don’t understand?” It’s gross. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    1. Salymander*

      Yeah that was what I thought too. It sounds like the pearl clutching moral panic of a bunch of ridiculous bigots. They sound like the kind of folks who go around burning books, sticking fig leaves on statues, and calling the cops whenever a “suspicious” person walks through their neighborhood. And the school sucks too, because they need to be able to smack this kind of thing down so it doesn’t end up controlling everything they do.

      I was annoyed to read that they didn’t mention the policy until after the OP quit their former job and started at this new one. Were they trying to trap the OP due to a childcare shortage, and failed to realize that a childcare shortage means that OP has significantly more power to negotiate and change jobs to somewhere with fewer jerks? I doubt their lapse in outlining the rules was made in good faith. Rolling my eyes so hard at these people.

  97. LW2*

    Hey all, LW2 here.

    Thanks for the advice. I’ve added my pronouns to my LinkedIn profile and resume–those are the most actionable things I can do.

    Also, I’m not really wringing my hands about BYU on the resume, in large part because of how long ago it was. It’s just that it has more potential to be awkward in conversations than anything. But as I’m job hunting and a well known BYU professor just said some super gross things last week it is on top of mind.

    I have enjoyed seeing a lot of comments that really indicate that those who know _know_, and those who don’t know deeply in their bones about BYU just kinda don’t. It’s impossible to know outside perspective until someone actually tells you what it is. So, thanks for that!

    1. Salymander*

      Hi OP

      At least with the gross comments of the BYU professor being in the news right now, people might ask you about it openly and you can just talk about it rather than having to hint and hope people understand your signals. And BYU does have a really good academic reputation. Good luck with your endeavors!

  98. Candi*

    #1 -that is just not on. For me, that’d be worth moving jobs right away. Not just the not mentioning in the interview, but the dismissive attitude afterwards.

    #3 -Thank you for asking this question. Forwarding to my own nonbinary adult kid.

  99. Paperdill*

    OP1: Just wanted you to know that, when looking at picture of my baby niece at her new day care, how delighted I was to see that all her caters have piercings, tattoos, colourful and interesting hair and to seem them all smiling and engaged with their charges! I just thought it looked like a wonderful, creative, expressive and safe place for her to be!
    You should go to work wearing those tattoo sleeve things “What? You told me to cover my tattoos!”

  100. RedFraggle*

    LW#3 you may want to consider using FMLA paired with short-term disability benefits. Most of the time, you’ll get about 60% of your pay this way, and you can use a day or two of your paid leave to bring your take home up to your norm if you need to.

  101. Anonynon*

    I work at a school where I know several teachers who have visible tattoos. The only time it’s ever been a problem was when one of these teachers stopped a child from coloring on themselves with marker, and was told “but YOU color on your skin every day! Why can’t I?!” The kids love the tattoos.

    1. Kayem*

      The sleeve I’m working on for my left arm is going to be all black line drawings so I have a perpetual coloring book. My niece and nephew love it.

  102. Color my hair*

    LW#2 – It’s not fair to assume that if someone is religious that they cannot work with LGBTQ employees. In 2002 my religiously conservative manager responded to an employee’s gender transition in a professional, supportive way. (No weird questions, approved time off for medical stuff, bathroom use not an issue, explained how to change the name in the corporate computer system) My BYU-alumni manager kicked out a customer who made anti-transgender remarks (and was surprised when someone thanked him for his advocacy). When my colleague was upset about her grandchild’s bad (non-heterosexual) partner, the most comforting person was the woman who attended a conservative Christian church.

    1. ndawn90*

      I agree that it’s generally not fair to assume, but it’s also not unfounded to assume that someone who practices a religion where they actively preach bigotry from the pulpit every Sunday to internalize at least some of that bigotry.

      And when it comes to BYU, they aren’t exactly shy about their homophobia and transphobia. Just the other day their Speech Language Pathology department announced that they were going to turn away trans/NB patients who were seeking gender confirming speech therapy. It would certainly be unfair to assume that any speech language pathologist who studied at BYU is going to be transphobic and turn away clients because of it, but it also wouldn’t be unreasonable to see that headline in the news, see a resume from a recent BYU grad, and knowing that your client base has patients who are seeking gender confirming speech therapy maybe deciding to throw that resume in the trash and interview someone who went to another school instead, if only to avoid the possible headache.

  103. Color my hair*

    So, I wouldn’t think twice about seeing BYU or a religiously-affiliated school on a resume. It shouldn’t be an issue.

    However, I like the idea of including your pronouns.

  104. Website Reader*

    OP #2: I agree with everything Allison said. Also, there are SO many people who went to BYU who are no longer Mormon who got an excellent education there. Johnny Harris is a prominent journalist who used to work at Vox, one of the most liberal media publications in the country (as well as just a fantastic newssource) and he’s ex-Mormon, but you would never guess that he used to be based off his left-wing work. Though I feel like his deconstruction has informed that work. Best wishes!

  105. shannaconda*

    Letter writer 3, your ask is totally reasonable!! My two cents as a non-binary person who got top surgery and tried to also avoid using my vacation and sick time and didn’t qualify for FMLA:
    My doctor recommended 2 full weeks off and I took 1 week off and 1 week work from home. The first week after surgery I was completely out of commission. I couldn’t have worked if I wanted to – I was just too tired + on pain meds, going to follow up appointments. I also wish I’d been able to take the 2nd week off – I really was able to get much of anything done at work and what little I did accomplish really wasn’t quality. And this was mostly lying in bed with my laptop and taking frequent naps. Thankfully my boss was understanding, but I was totally surprised by how much recovering from surgery took out of me physically and mentally my just in terms of exhaustion. Obviously everyone’s recovery and healing is different so ymmv but just don’t expect to be fully back to normal on week 2. By week 3 I really was substantially more recovered.

    I wish you a smooth surgery process and quick and easy healing!

  106. Hapax Legomenon*

    LW1, the most generous interpretation I can find is that someone decided to force a policy rewrite by using you. Hire and inprocess a new employee with visible tattoos, then when you’re threatened with losing your new hire because of the policy, you can show management that their policy will cost them a great person they’ve already hired. That’s still a terrible position to put you in, and at least an orange flag, but thankfully you have so much power. Even if your old job can’t take you back, you are in demand in the labor market as an experienced childcare employee and you can get a new job that will allow your ink without issue. I hope you let them know the onus is on them to provide a tattoo coverage option that is compatible with your facility’s standard hygiene procedures. They need to solve the problems they created, not you.

  107. kwww*

    I work in early childhood development and surveyed our state & federal pre-k programs two weeks ago. They report that their classrooms are an average of 30% understaffed. You can likely find a new job in your field in about 5 minutes, and one where they value you and a diversity of people and voices!

  108. Anony74839*

    Re: 2. I went to a school run by a religion I no longer follow

    I went to a Jesuit university, and I’m not Catholic. Only went there bc it was what I could afford. I otherwise would have preferred a non-religious school.

  109. Mezzo*


    Late to the party here. I’m also a BYU grad (1992) who left the LDS church. I’ve job hunted a number of times since graduation and no one ever brought up my alma mater during interviews…until my most recent job hunt, which started about six months ago.

    Maybe it’s that recruiters/hiring managers are being more candid lately, or maybe people are just fed up with the poor human rights record of the LDS church (I know I am!!!!!), but I’ve been asked why I attended BYU in several recent interviews. In one case, the hiring manager was also a former Mormon (who went to University of Utah), and she had a number of, um, remarks to make. Another hiring manager is married to a former Mormon, and she and her wife have both been treated horribly by local church officials and her wife’s family.

    For myself, I view getting a few questions/pushback in a small number of job interviews as part of the price I pay for getting a very cost-effective education. But while I understand and agree with people who are furious with the church for its treatment of the LGBTQ community and people of color (these are major reasons why I left), I wish people who don’t want to hire a BYU grad would simply NOT contact me for interviews.

  110. Llama Mama*

    LW 1 depending on how your org is structured could you also go to the location/team you will be working with to help with push back to HR or to confirm that they (the manager) aren’t that strict about the policy. Along with the advice above on how to deal with HR, maybe having your manager push back too can help. It might be a situation of HR “policy” vs the “real world” application of that policy and/or your manager also thinks HR is being unreasonable.

    But it is SUPER fishy that they basically went over the whole manual and neglected to point out the tattoo policy if they had seen your tattoos previously.

  111. Fleur-de-Lis*

    LW3 – take the time. I’m being careful to avoid speaking out of turn here as I am anon, but I’m the supervisor of a person who is working from home right now as they recover from surgery. Because of my own positionality as a queer person, they have been comfortable with sharing details with me, and they have been taking the lead on how and when and to whom they come out at work. They’ve changed their name with HR and IT resources. We also had a discussion about pronouns in an all-staff meeting to kick off our work year in our department. I further sought guidance from HR and others about what steps to take if there are problems with misgendering. An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure and all that.
    One thing I do NOT do: pry into how it’s going with healing, beyond asking if they need something from me or from other areas where I can facilitate assistance. They share what feels best for them, and I am clear about being the kind of boss who doesn’t need to know why someone is out. I care about knowing that they are going to be gone and for approximately how long, offer them mutual aid if it’s desired (like Meal Train), and to make sure there’s coverage for any necessary work tasks and projects so people can truly rest and recuperate.

  112. JHSC*

    (I havent read the previous comments so forgive me if I’m repeating whats already been said)

    LW #3 – Definitely speak to your surgeon about what your recovery time will be and when you will be approved for activities. I had top surgery last year and was put on 6 weeks of leave. I was not approved to even drive until about 3 or 4 weeks post surgery. I kept one of my drains for over a week, and had complications (failed nip graft) which meant I was back and forth to the office multiple times in the first 2 weeks.

    Everyone has different recoveries so I’m not trying to scare you! But definitely speak to your surgeon about what would be realistic for you regarding returning to work, driving, etc before making any solid plans.

    Also, congrats on the surgery!!!! I can assure you it is absolutely a load off. *rimshot* I hope it goes well and that your recovery is smooth sailing!

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