Leadership Corner

June is Pride month at the USDA Forest Service

June 5th, 2019 at 2:47PM
Portrait of Chief Vicki Christiansen in uniform.
Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen

June is Pride month for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited and queer community and allies. It’s a time to recognize the contributions of LGBTQ Americans who work alongside us every day, and USDA Forest Service leadership is committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community by promoting a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. We are standing together, anchored to our value of diversity, to celebrate this year’s theme of “Honoring Our Roots, Growing Our Future.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the LGBTQ+ Special Emphasis Program at the USDA. This program raises awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and concerns, and is designed to ensure that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people receive equal treatment in all aspects of their employment. We are proud to be a part of the LGBT Special Emphasis Program that provides tools and resources intended to provide a foundation for inclusivity. You can learn more at the Special Emphasis Program for LGBT site [internal link].

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of USDA’s Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Employee Organization. GLOBE was founded in 1994 when many LGBTQ+ people within the federal government were organizing to advocate for equal rights in their places of work. GLOBE’s advocacy efforts contributed to the inclusion of sexual orientation into the USDA’s Civil Rights policy and nondiscrimination protections in 1993, adding gender identity and expression to those protections in 2011. The organization changed its name to Equality USDA in 2017, providing a welcoming and supportive group open to all employees and retirees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This group is leading by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Find more information at Equality USDA.

Graphic: Pride flag made from flowers

During Pride month, Equality USDA is hosting programs to increase awareness on these various issues. A couple of those upcoming programs are:

Multi-Agency USDA Pride Observance

On June 6, Equality USDA, in partnership with numerous USDA Agencies, will host a one-hour Pride Observance. This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Roots, Growing Our Future.” This event will be live-streamed and recorded. Tune in at 10:00 a.m. ET at USDA Pride Observance. Associate Chief Lenise Lago will speak at this event, please tune in.

LGBTQ+ Generational Diversity Webinar

On June 16, at 12:00 p.m. ET, Equality USDA will host a LGBTQ+ Generational Diversity Webinar [internal link]. Remote connection details will be posted on the Outreach and Diversity event calendar [internal link] as they become available.

Notably, this month also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York. The June 28, 1969, police raid on the Stonewall Inn resulted in riots, and precipitated Greenwich Village residents to organize into activist groups focused on creating safe places for gays and lesbians to express themselves without fear of retribution. Widely referred to as “Stonewall,” that early morning’s turmoil was powerfully transformed one year later with the first Pride marches commemorating the riots. The tradition continues to energize LGBTQ+ people world-wide today. More information can be found at Stonewall.

Today, we honor our agency value of diversity by creating an inclusive agency where the LGBTQ+ community is recognized as essential to our mission. It takes all personalities, identities, cultures and communities to create a diverse and resilient USDA Forest Service.

Thank you for doing your part to help us build an organization that is welcoming and inclusive, honoring the richness of a full spectrum of people. To continue this journey, we ask you to:

  • Be a LGBTQ+ Ally. For more on how to become an ally, visit What does it mean to be an Ally?  [internal link]
  • Reflect on the past and celebrate the present
  • Each day continue to build respect and trust at your unit   

Together we will create a sense of belonging for all employees and a respectful environment for the people we serve.

Graphic: Tree with rainbow roots and a few rainbow leaves