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ANKENY, Iowa — An Iowa group hopes to break down barriers of employment for the LGBTQ community.

“Most LGBT people actually stay in the closet at work for fear of retribution, so we want to create a space and have those inclusive workspaces here so people can access those resources,” said Mark Busch, who serves as the director of education at Iowa Safe Schools. .

Iowa Safe Schools hosted its second LGBTQ Career Expo.  Saturday’s event was held at the DMACC Ankeny Campus.  Over 30 employers were looking to boost their businesses with employees from the LGBTQ community.  It is a safe space for high school and college students looking for jobs from businesses and universities that commit themselves to supporting everyone in the workplace, regardless of sexual orientation.

Kaden James McLaughlin is a college student in search of a job.  McLaughlin says it didn’t take long to understand the significance of the expo.  “Being transgender myself, it’s really hard to find jobs that are accepting where I don’t have to lie about who I am and hide that. My resumes have my legal name on it, but they are all writing my preferred name. Honestly, this is like a Godsend to have something like this,” said Kaden.

Busch added, “When workspaces are inclusive, we are maximizing that success for all employees, so there is less employee turnaround and there is a greater success rate in secondary institutions as well.”

The next LGBTQ Career Expo is scheduled for Feb. 29 at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

***Editor’s note: In a video version of this story, Mark Bush was incorrectly labeled as an employee of One Iowa. Busch is with Iowa Safe Schools.