National Park Service reverses Pride ban for employees in uniform after backlash from LGBTQ+ community

Author: Christopher Wiggins

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland reversed on Friday a National Park Service directive that would have barred employees from participating in LGBTQThe memoHaaland directed bureau leaders to determine how and when to participate in these events. “This could include marching units in parades, booths at parades, events, etc.,” she wrote. “This would allow employees to participate in uniform representing their respective bureau.” Haaland added, “This direction takes effect immediately.”

In a statement to The Advocate, Pattie Gonia praised the efforts of LGBTQ+ Park Service employees and highlighted the need for safeguards to prevent bias in approving Pride event participation.

“We are communicating with our park service contacts to gather their feedback on this policy update,” she wrote. “In the meantime, we congratulate queer park service employees on the great lengths that they have gone to secure this reversal. We thank the National Park Service and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for listening to their employees as well as the general public. We remain cautious on how the updated policy will be implemented.”

Pattie Gonia stressed the importance of implementing safeguards to ensure that employees and employee resource groups can appeal any denials of permission to participate in events, as local park leadership might have personal views that conflict with the new policy.

“This is proof that when queer people fight we win,” Pattie Gonia added. “This is proof that it is never too late to do the right thing.”

GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis also commended the employees who spoke out.

“Our National Parks and the public servants who work there are treasures valued by every American. Employees should be able to express support for Pride and all celebrations that bring people together to reflect the beautiful diversity of our country and people,” Ellis told The Advocate. “We owe thanks to Park Service employees who spoke up about the discriminatory policy and who work every day to make all feel welcome to enjoy the parks that belong to all of us.”

National press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, Brandon Wolf, celebrated the announcement as well.

“This is good news,” Wolf told The Advocate. “The National Park Service plays a crucial role in recognizing and celebrating LGBTQ+ people, including by preserving historic sites like Stonewall and allowing its employees to participate in Pride. Recent years have seen an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks that have put LGBTQ+ people across the country in crisis and it’s important that the Biden-Harris Administration, the most pro-equality in history, are continuing to demonstrate their support for the community.”

The Advocate contacted the Department of the Interior but did not immediately hear back on Saturday.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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