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LGBT AT USDA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Special Emphasis Program Presented by Perry Stevens LGBT Special.

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Presentation on theme: "LGBT AT USDA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Special Emphasis Program Presented by Perry Stevens LGBT Special."— Presentation transcript:

1 LGBT AT USDA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Special Emphasis Program Presented by Perry Stevens LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager United States Department of Agriculture June 8, 2011


3 3  April 1993, Secretary Mike Espy issued the Department’s EEO and Civil Rights Policy Statement which specifically prohibited discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.

4 4  June 1993, a Departmental Task Force was formed to develop recommendations designed to implement the Secretary’s policy regarding this issue.

5 5  July 1999, USDA announced the formation of the Second USDA Task Force on Sexual Orientation.

6 6 “If the Department fully implements its sexual orientation nondiscrimination and diversity policy, USDA stands to gain greater openness, job satisfaction, and retention among its workforce; increased productivity and customer service; and the prevention of costly complaints. We have estimated the potential savings that could be realized by the Department through this course of action to be approximately $23 million annually.” Report of the 2 nd USDA Task Force on Sexual Orientation

7 7 Fall 2000 established a Secretary’s Advisory Council on sexual orientation: Gay & Lesbian Employee Advisory Council (GLEAC)  Advise USDA leadership on issues affecting GLBT employees.  Assist in the implementation of Departmental policies.  Develop and deliver training addressing sexual orientation nondiscrimination.

8 8  June 2009, Secretary Vilsack signed Departmental Regulation 4230-002 creating a Special Emphasis Program for LGBT employees.

9 9 “We’re going to sign a document that is our collective commitment from the leadership of the Department down to every single employee that suggests that diversity, including gay and lesbian diversity, is going to be celebrated, going to be recognized, and going to be part of the USDA experience.” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack USDA Pride Celebration June 4, 2009

10  From 1999 till 2009, USDA had the Gay and Lesbian Employees Advisory Council (GLEAC)

11 11  Employment protections  Same-sex partnerships  Domestic partner benefits  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell  Violence – Hate Crimes

12 12  Heterosexism (institutionalized homophobia)  Can be overt or hidden  Fear  Harassment & hostile work environment  Jokes, comments, threats  Lavender Ceiling  Advancement and promotion  Unconscious bias

13  Heterosexism A system of attitudes, bias and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior. People of any sexual orientation can hold such attitudes and bias. Nonetheless, heterosexism as discrimination ranks gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people as second-class citizens with regard to various legal and civil rights, economic opportunities, and social equality in the majority of the world’s jurisdictions and societies.

14 14  Heterosexism Can be explicit or open discrimination:  Anti-gay laws, policies and institutional practices  Harassment based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation  Negative stereotyping  Discriminatory language  Using the “gay panic” defense in assault and murder cases

15 15  Heterosexism Can be implicit or hidden discrimination:  Operates through invisibility, underrepresentation, and erasure  Exclusion of historical and political figures’ and celebrities’ homosexuality or bisexuality—and complete avoidance of mentioning these people and their positive contributions to society  Work environments that tacitly require LGBT individuals not to reveal their sexual orientation via discussion of their relationship status while heterosexuals can discuss their relationships and marital status freely.

16 16  Heterosexism Can be implicit or hidden discrimination:  Removal of gay-themed materials from public libraries or bookstores  Refusal to recognize families headed by same-sex partners at businesses or school events

17 17 WORKPLACE ISSUES (CONTINUED)  Current employees are coming out of the closet.  New employees won’t go back in the closet.  Some discriminatory attitudes are hardening.

18 18 A BETTER WORKPLACE  Where diversity is recognized and respected, overall employee morale goes up  Commitments to LGBT equality tend to reinforce other commitments to equality

19 19 A BETTER WORKPLACE  Employees who feel forced to hide their identities, relationships, or life experiences are less effective and lack the cohesion with colleagues they need to best do their jobs  LGBT employees who are out at work are 20% to 30% more productive than their closeted counterparts

20 20 BENEFITS OF AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE A Comprehensive Workplace Diversity Program results in:  Fewer discrimination lawsuits  A more productive workplace  Helping us to better serve all our customers


22 Why Education Is Important

23  Good employees work best when they know all the rules  USDA has a non-discrimination policy that includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals  Zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind

24  Be vocal and direct about ending the behavior  Make it clear that USDA is an inclusive and tolerant work environment

25  Let the scope of your response be dictated by the particulars of the behavior—if two employees have a conflict motivated by discrimination, then settle it between them without involving the whole office. If an employee sends out an offensive email to the entire office, then your response should be distributed to the entire office.

26  Not here to change your belief or challenge your faith  This is to make sure you are informed about USDA Human Resources policy

27  Part of your duty as an employee is to be aware of and comply with USDA’s policies and protocols  We all have different and sometimes competing values, but we have learned to check our baggage at the door when we arrive at work each morning  Examples?

28  Has happened many times at USDA  Likely to be an increase in the number of employees who choose to undergo transition in the workplace  Transition process usually includes the individual living for a year as the new gender before undergoing surgery  Leads to a number of questions

29  What bathroom do they use?  How are we supposed to address them?  How do we respond to co-workers who give them a hard time?  New Guidelines issued from OPM, and USDA is now drafting them into a policy letter specific to our Department.

30 30  Be honest: Recognize your own biases, prejudices and values.  Be a partner: Work on projects with members of groups different from your own.  Be a role model: Be vocal in opposing prejudice and help educate others


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