NPS Restricts Uniformed Staffers From Pride Marches

NPS said that official participation in pride parades “should be extremely limited.”

The National Park Service is effectively prohibiting uniformed staffers from marching in public events that “could be construed as agency support for a particular issue, position, or political party,” according to internal memos obtained by NBC News.

The restriction would apply to pride marches. An NPS spokesperson says the memo is a “reminder” of policy, but the claim has left staff confused. In previous years, uniformed rangers have participated in pride marches, alongside uniformed police officers, firemen, and service members. In response to the recent memo, anonymous LGBTQ employees have reported feeling betrayed, according to the Advocate.

One anonymous NPS staffer, who has participated in pride events while in uniform and is involved in planning this year’s employee pride march, told NBC News they are “appalled” by the “lack of professionalism.” They, as well as many other employees, say the agency has not properly clarified the policy.

While NPS has confirmed the memo, a spokesperson stopped short of referring to the policy as a “ban.”

“Official NPS participation in community events that directly relate to a park’s mission can be approved by the park superintendent, provided it is consistent with applicable laws, rules, regulations, and NPS policies,” the spokesperson said to NBC News.

In an effort to clear up the policy, the agency sent out a follow-up Q&A document to employees, in which they state that NPS official participation in pride parades “should be extremely limited.” It goes on to say that participation “could imply agency support… on a particular issue of public concern.” Employees argue that LGBTQ pride is not an issue of public concern, but rather a celebration of identity.

“Pride is not political, it’s not a cause, you just are LGBTQ+. It’s a celebration of who we are,” an anonymous Park Service employee told the Advocate. “Morale is just so low right now. There’s not a lot of fight left in us.”

What Do You Think?