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News | June 9, 2021

LGBTQ Pride Month offers history, knowledge, insight

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

June celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning Pride Month.

Throughout the month, Defense Contract Management Agency, along with the greater Defense Department community, offers virtual opportunities to discover and discuss the historical significance behind the month’s origins and the contributions of the extended-LGBTQ+ community to America.

“The struggles, sacrifices and successes among the LGBTQ+ community continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all,” said Army Brig. Gen. David Bassett, DCMA director. “Our nation was founded upon and is guided by the declaration that all people are created equal; that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are among the inalienable rights of every person; and that each shall be accorded the full recognition and protection of law.”

Bassett said diversity and inclusion are readiness imperatives that highlight one of the nation’s greatest strengths.

“Our LGBTQ+ employees serve with distinction in DCMA across the country and around the world,” he said. “During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, please join me in celebrating the rich diversity of the DoD workforce and renew our enduring commitment to equality, dignity and respect for all.”

In his 2021 Pride Month proclamation, President Joe Biden highlighted the community’s expanding public-service role and the ongoing struggles many within the community face.

“Members of the LGBTQ+ community now serve in nearly every level of public office — in city halls and state capitals, governors’ mansions and the halls of Congress, and throughout my administration. Nearly 14 percent of my 1,500 agency appointees identify as LGBTQ+, and I am particularly honored by the service of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly LGBTQ+ person to serve in the cabinet, and Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate. For all of our progress, there are many states in which LGBTQ+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations and other spaces.”

The month-long celebration honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York.

According to the Library of Congress, “June 28, 1969, marks the beginning of the Stonewall Uprising, a series of events between police and LGBTQ+ protesters which stretched over six days. It was not the first time police raided a gay bar, and it was not the first time LGBTQ+ people fought back, but the events that would unfold over the next six days would fundamentally change the discourse surrounding LGBTQ+ activism in the United States. While Stonewall became well known due to the media coverage and the subsequent annual pride traditions, it was a culmination of years of LGBTQ+ activism.”

The Pentagon’s LGBTQ+ Pride Event, scheduled to be held June 9 at 9:30 a.m., is available via webcast on DVIDS. For those team members unable to watch the live event, a recording will be posted on the site after its conclusion.

The Smithsonian is celebrating Pride Month with many events, but Youth in Action: Conversations About Our Future presents a unique discussion from Indigenous youth working in the fields of education, health, cultural heritage and the arts to amplify Native LGBTQ+ voices and issues June 17, from 4 to 5 p.m. Youth In Action is a monthly program led by young Native activists and changemakers from across the Western Hemisphere who are working toward equity and social justice for Indigenous peoples.

Interested in additional virtual events? The Library of Congress offers several this month.

On June 16, it will host “Prints & Photographs Virtual Orientation: Commemorating Pride Month with LGBTQ+ Images.” The session will include an introduction to photographs, posters and other pictures in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division that relate to LGBTQ+ history and culture. Sign up for the event here.

On June 28, a Virtual LGBTQ+ Pride Night, which will include a presentation by Meg Metcalf, a Women’s, Gender and LGBTQIA+ Studies librarian and collection specialist, that explores the depth, breadth and diversity of LGBTQ+ collections and services at the library. Sign up for the event here.

Additional Federal Employee Protections

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, and reprisal. But the protections do not end there. There are additional protections, through existing laws and executive orders, regarding marital status, political affiliation, status as a parent, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The EEOC has found that transgender discrimination falls under the sex-protected category. Additionally, discrimination against caregivers can fall under Title VII protections or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 protects applicants and employees from discrimination in personnel issues based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, political affiliation, or on conduct that does not adversely affect the performance of the applicant or employee, or the performance of others, which can include sexual orientation. The Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board enforce the prohibitions in the CSRA.

Various executive orders also offer protections for federal employees and give them legal options for discriminatory practices that may not be covered under the typical EEOC processes. For example, Executive Order 13152 specifically designates “status of a parent” to include biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, stepparents, custodians of a legal ward, in loco parentis over an individual, or actively seeking legal custody or adoption of an individual under 18 or one who is over 18 but incapable of self-care due to a physical or mental disability.

Additionally, Executive Order 11478 (further amended by EOs 13087 and 13152) specifies sexual orientation as a protected class. Individuals affected can file complaints under both the typical EEO complaint process (if it applies, such as sexual orientation), the EO process or both, if applicable.

Workplace Religious Accommodations

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion, which includes denying accommodations for an employee’s sincerely-held religious beliefs. The law defines “religion” very broadly. It can include organized, traditional religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, or only held by a small number of people. Applicants and employees can obtain exceptions to policies to adhere to their religious beliefs or practices.

These accommodations vary in nature but should be allowed if it doesn’t place undue burdens in the workplace. Common exceptions include: changes to an office’s dress code for religious practice, so the employee can wear clothing or headgear that their religious requires; schedule changes to allow employees to attend religion services; breaks to coincide with prayer times; or being excused from certain duties that are prohibited by their religion, like working on the Sabbath.

Latest EEO Newsletter Online

Check out the June issue of Equal Writes, the agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity newsletter. This month, we observe LGBTQ+ Pride Month and recognize the LGBTQ+ community and their efforts toward gaining equality.  Learn about workplace harmony and the importance of creating a culture of workplace civility and respect, as it is vital to the agency’s mission of promoting an inclusive work environment.

Also in this month’s offering, EEO examines workplace conflict, encourages accessible workplace meetings for deaf/hard of hearing employees, and reviews invisible disabilities that may not be visually apparent to others. Included is an EEO case study examining sexual harassment complaints shows how the EEO Commission found for the employee who felt harassed due to conversations discussing sexual issues happening next to her workstation.