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. 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 LGBT at USDA:
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. Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 3
June 1993, a Departmental Task Force was formed to develop recommendations designed to implement the Secretary’s policy regarding this issue. Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 4
July 1999, USDA announced the formation of the Second USDA Task Force on Sexual Orientation. Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 5
“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 2nd USDA Task Force on Sexual Orientation Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 6
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. Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 7
June 2009, Secretary Vilsack signed Departmental Regulation 4230-002 creating a Special Emphasis Program for LGBT employees. Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 8
“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 Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture 9
From 1999 till 2009, USDA had the Gay and Lesbian Employees Advisory Council (GLEAC) Sexual Orientation Diversity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Employment protections • Same-sex partnerships • Domestic partner benefits • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell • Violence – Hate Crimes Current Issues for LGBT Individuals in the United States 11
Heterosexism (institutionalized homophobia) • Can be overt or hidden • Fear • Harassment & hostile work environment • Jokes, comments, threats • Lavender Ceiling • Advancement and promotion • Unconscious bias Workplace Issues 12
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. Workplace Issues
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 Workplace Issues 14
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. Workplace Issues 15
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 Workplace Issues 16
Current employees are coming out of the closet. • New employees won’t go back in the closet. • Some discriminatory attitudes are hardening. Workplace Issues (continued) 17
Where diversity is recognized and respected, overall employee morale goes up • Commitments to LGBT equality tend to reinforce other commitments to equality A Better Workplace 18
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 A Better Workplace 19
A Comprehensive Workplace Diversity Program results in: • Fewer discrimination lawsuits • A more productive workplace • Helping us to better serve all our customers Benefits of an Inclusive Workplace 20
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 As a Workforce, We Adapt
Be vocal and direct about ending the behavior Make it clear that USDA is an inclusive and tolerant work environment What Is the Appropriate Response to Inappropriate Behavior?
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. What Is the Appropriate Response to Inappropriate Behavior?
Not here to change your belief or challenge your faith This is to make sure you are informed about USDA Human Resources policy What About Religious Objections?
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? What About Religious Objections?
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 Employees in Transition
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. Questions That Arise When a Coworker Undergoes Transition
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 What Can I Do To Promote Diversity In the Workplace? 30
For more information, contactPerry StevensDiversity Program Specialist Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT)Special Emphasis Program Manager (SEPM)US Department of AgriculturePerry.firstname.lastname@example.org