Chef Art Smith Kicks off Pride Month

Robert Westover
Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
June 9th, 2014 at 4:15PM

Renowned chef Art Smith was the official guest speaker for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s observance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Openly Gay, and formally the personal chef to Oprah Winfrey, Chef Art has made numerous TV appearances, and is one of the most popular chefs in the country.

The USDA and its agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, was one of the first cabinet-level departments to recognize its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees through the establishment of an LGBT Special Emphasis Program.

“An inclusive and respectful work environment is key to mission success,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “Employees who feel that they’re in a safe and accepting environment are more productive and their overall work experience is enriched.”

With the establishment of the LGBT Special Emphasis Program and the USDA’s official observance of Pride Month, Secretary Tom Vilsack has provided the same support to the LGBT populations as other special emphasis groups, including Hispanics, African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific  Islanders, Women and Persons with Disabilities.

The Forest Service’s LGBT Special Emphasis Program goals are to increase awareness among employees that they work alongside a diverse array of people, including those with different sexual orientations, create a more inclusive environment for LGBT employees, and to serve as a resource to provide advice and counsel regarding LGBT workplace issues.

“The Forest Service is proud of our commitment to the LGBT community and we strive to have this commitment recognized by every employee,” said Ted Gutman, director of the Forest Service’s Civil Rights program. “It’s very important to agency leadership that diversity, including LGBT diversity, is celebrated, recognized and part of the Forest Service experience.”

To find more photos of the observance, please visit the 2014 Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) Pride Observance Flickr set.