NPS Reverses Pride Ban For Uniformed Staffers Following Backlash

The National Park Service Secretary wrote “I want to ensure that every employee has the opportunity to thrive in a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment.”

National Park Service Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland has reversed the agency’s decision to bar uniformed employees from participating in LGBTQ+ Pride marches, according to an email obtained by The Advocate.

In the message, sent to all NPS employees Friday, Haaland wrote: “I want to ensure that every employee has the opportunity to thrive in a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment.”

The initial policy, issued on May 17, restricted employees from marching in events that “could be construed as agency support for a particular issue, position, or political party.” Many queer staffers spoke to media outlets anonymously, sharing that the policy was a major reversal for the agency, which had allowed staffers to march in uniform in Pride marches alongside uniformed police officers, firefighters and service members.

LGBTQ+ organizations, who expressed outrage at the initial decision, are celebrating the reversal. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis credited the decision to employees who voiced their opinion.

“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 also commented on the decision.

“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.”

As part of Haaland’s reversal, she is directing bureau leaders to decide how and when employees will participate in “externally organized events or activities” while in uniform.

“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.”

 


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