Pride Month and USDA’s Commitment to Inclusion
By Suzanne Hensell, OPACE
The month of June is designated as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. The month was chosen to honor the Stonewall Uprising, a turning point in the gay rights movement. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City, sparking a riot among bar patrons and local residents that led to six days of protests and violence in the neighborhood. On the one-year anniversary of the riots, America’s first gay pride parade was held in Manhattan. Today, LGBTQ Pride Month celebrations not only include pride parades, but festivals, concerts and other events worldwide.
In his April 9, 2021, USDA Civil Rights Policy Statement, Secretary Vilsack emphasized, “At USDA, we are recommitting ourselves to the values of equity, inclusion and equal opportunity for each other and those we serve. … As a department that operates with excellence in leadership, we must affirm and ensure USDA provides equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment, regardless of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, age, genetic information or disability. All employees have the freedom to compete on a fair and level playing field with equal opportunity for available employment and advancement opportunities. … These civil rights principles are more than employees’ rights by law — they are core values at the USDA.”
Administrator Paul Kiecker has underscored the Secretary’s civil rights values to FSIS employees saying, “To create an inclusive workplace where individuals are respected, trusted and valued, we must continue to work together to make it diverse and free of unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation. By pursing this goal together, we become stronger as a team that represents and supports diverse communities.”
It has been more than 50 years since the first gay pride parade in New York, and FSIS is committed to equality in its employment programs and management practices, including recruitment, hiring, promotion, benefits and career development.