In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar. Violent protests erupted in the nearby streets for the next six days. One year later, on the first anniversary of the raid, the first gay pride march was held in NYC and cities throughout the country.
Fifty-two years later, that one day event has spread to encompass the entire month of June, during which Pride Month is annually celebrated. The Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) is observing this important heritage month by honoring the work that has been accomplished and all that must still be done to promote inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) employees, landowners and farmers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken great strides to foster and inclusive workplace and promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community. It was one of the first federal agencies to add sexual orientation to its Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Civil Rights’ Policy Statements, doing so in 1993, five years before the federal government’s nondiscrimination policy.
“One of USDA-NRCS’ core values is respecting the diversity of all people and communities we engage regardless of their race, sex, gender, religion or sexual orientation. This includes appreciating the perspectives, ideas, cultures and experiences that our employees embody and bring to the workplace,“ said Indiana NRCS State Conservationist Jerry Raynor.
USDA has continued to be at the forefront of LBGTQ inclusivity in the federal workplace. In 2009, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in his first stint leading the agency, expanded the special emphasis programs to include LGBTQ and officially recognized June as PRIDE month. In 2011, he added gender identity and expression to USDA’s Civil Rights Policy. These milestones are steps to ensure that USDA is a welcoming workplace for all of us to help people help the land.
This year, USDA will celebrate Pride Month with an observance centered on the theme “Progress in Action,” which will highlight the continued work being done to promote LGBTQ acceptance and honor the all those who have fought for the progress that has already been made.
“We’re proud of USDA’s history of LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace,” said Indiana LGBTQ Special Emphasis Manager Patrick Glassman. “In the past, we have had booths at Lafayette’s Outfest, as well as the USDA sponsored Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Washington, DC. Our state conservationist has led the way by attending the Cultivating Change Summit alongside me in Des Moines, IA. We look forward to returning to these events when they are held in person again.”
Please join us as we honor and celebrate the LBGTQ producers and NRCS employees throughout the state of Indiana who play a vital role in the state’s agriculture industry. For more information about Pride Month, visit https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/.