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June is National PRIDE Month

By Nayre Herrera, Pathways, NRCS and Lara Fondow, Idaho LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager, NRCS

NRCS Welcoming Workplace BannerJune is National PRIDE month, and in honor of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) LGBT employees’ the agency will highlight the systems of support that exist for the LGBT community. In 1993, the USDA updated its Equal Employment Opportunity Code (EEO) and Civil Rights Policy Statement to prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. In 2009, the USDA and its agencies, including the U.S Forest Service, became one the first cabinet-level departments to recognize LGBT employees through the establishment of the LGBT Special Emphasis Program (SEP).

SEP program objectives include ensuring that LGBT employees receive equal treatment in all aspects of employment. A second objective focuses on increasing the number of LGBT people employed in all professional levels within the agency. A strategy to accomplish this is by providing LGBT employees with the opportunity to participate in training, career development, and leadership programs. You can learn more about the LGBT Special Emphasis Program by clicking here.

USDA’s PRIDE month theme this year is “2020 Vision, 2020 Possibilities.”PRIDE Rainbow Tree

 “This theme speaks to our ability to look back on the past with clarity while imagining the possibilities in our future, said Lara Fondow, NRCS Idaho LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager. “This theme acknowledges that historically, many voices have been marginalized and minimized within our own community and that we have a vision for a more inclusive future.”

USDA takes pride in considering itself a welcoming workplace, and it firmly stands by the belief that sexual orientation and gender identity are irrelevant to an individual’s character and ability to do their job. This belief was reinforced in 2011 when the USDA added “sexual identity” under the protections in our Civil Rights Policy Statement. It also is demonstrated in NRCS Idaho’s commitment to participate in PRIDE events across the state. We show our support in these instances by meeting the LGBT community where they are.

June is a time for community at large and allies to show support for the LGBT community and remember the sacrifices that have been made in the fight to achieve basic human rights for all.

“There is still work to be done, but together we are strong,” Fondow said.