Posts Tagged ‘LGBT Pride Month’
For the past two years, I have been invited to attend the US Department of Labor’s LGBT Pride Month event. Not living in Washington DC, I am not normally able to attend, but this year I was in DC for two days of business at the time of this event. What a privilege to be able to attend this event on June 28, 2016 in our nation’s capital with two outstanding high ranking US government leaders.
(NOTE: two years earlier I had attended a meeting with Secretary Perez and a dozen other “faith leaders” representing the North Carolina Council of Churches. Link to the blog about that meeting.)
The 45 minute discussion was held like a “town hall meeting” with Secretary Perez starting with a five minute address and then interviewing Senator Baldwin. In his introduction, Mr. Perez quoted author Charles Dickens about it “Being the best of times and the worst of times” eluding to the US Supreme Court ruling on marriage a year ago followed by the recent massacre at the Pulse Bar in Orlando. He also mentioned the absence of nationwide employment protections for LGBT people and said that a gay person could get married today and then go into work tomorrow and get fired. (NOTE: I actually wrote a blog with that title – link.)
Mr. Perez then introduced Senator Tammy Baldwin, the first openly out LGBT US Senator. He praised her for what she has done and how she had also done it with “Midwestern kindness” in an overall caustic political climate. Here are some of the key points Senator Baldwin made her comments:
• She personally realized the importance of universal healthcare coverage for all Americans early in her life. She was raised by her grandparents, and when she suffered through a rare and long childhood serious disease, she was not covered on their insurance since she was a grandchild. Then later in college, she had many classmates who were unable to obtain health insurance.
• She shared her journey as an out lesbian politician; from her county commission to the Wisconsin state house to US House to US Senate. She spoke of the importance of working for all constituents and building relationships. She also mentioned she was very fortunate in that a few out gay politicians helped pave the way for her and served as role models.
• The day before this meeting, she was fortunate to be in Greenwich Village, New York City, where President Obama designated the Stonewall Inn (gay bar in New York City) as an historic National Monument. (National Park website information about this new National Monument.) Stonewall was the location of the 1969 rebellion against police harassment of LGBT people and considered the birthplace of the American gay rights movement. Senator Baldwin poignantly spoke of how in the gay community, bars are actually places of safety and sanctuary, especially for people rejected by their families and communities for being gay.
Living in North Carolina where our politics is quite regressive (see my recent blogs about HB2 and hate in NC, and about alternative actions to boycotting our state,) I am encouraged by these excellent diversity and inclusion embracing leaders at our national level working for the benefit of ALL Americans.
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On a personal note, once again I got hopelessly lost driving in DC and arrived a little late, missing the introduction by Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Outreach and Recruiter Director for Presidential Personnel, the White House’s first openly transgender staff member.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Lots of Useful and Interesting LGBT and Pride Month Links at the bottom of the blog! Any many links throughout the main article! Check them out.
Traditionally, June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month commemorating the “Stonewall Rebellion” in Greenwich Village, New York in late June 1969. Led by a set of brave drag queens, patrons of the Stonewall Tavern boldly stood up to police harassment.
In my annual LGBT Pride Month blog this year I want to focus on the “T” (or transgender) in LGBT. Why? This seems to be a watershed time with a significant increase of focus on the transgender segment of our community.
Over the past 12 months as I delivered LGBT workshops and trainings across the country, mostly in a human resources professional setting, about 80% of the questions during the “Question and Answer” time are about transgender issues. Questions like:
• What do we need to do HR policy-wise to be more supportive of our transgender employees?
• How do we make the business case to our senior executives that we as a company should be providing gender transition health benefits for our transgender employees, and that medical treatments and surgeries should be considered necessary and not “optional” care?
• What kind of training do we need to provide to the co-workers of an employee who may be undergoing gender transition?
• What bathroom should a transgender person be using? What should we do if another employee complains about a transgender employee using a certain bathroom?
I believe there are several reasons for this increased focus:
• High profile celebrity transitions (Chas Bono a few years ago and more recently Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner) have made transgender people much more visible. (LATE EDIT: Link to this cool Vanity Fair magazine cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner!)
• Transgender characters are featured as mainstream in a more positive light such as Laverne Cox (link to Time Magazine Interview) in “Orange is the New Black.” In fact Ms. Cox was the first transgender person to be featured on cover of a Time Magazine issue last year with the title “The Transgender Tipping Point – America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.”
• With a large majority of Fortune 500 companies now providing full inclusion for gay men, lesbian and bisexual people covered under “sexual orientation,” they are now addressing the transgender area (gender identity and expression) that may have not been fully addressed earlier.
• The younger generation now emerging into more leadership roles are much more “gender fluid” and not as tied to strict gender stereotypes and roles.
(NOTE: As a University of Chicago graduate I was delighted and proud as am alumnus to see the Jan-Feb Alumni Magazine include an alumni essay called “On Common Ground” written by transwoman Christina Kahrl AB’90 about her finding acceptance as a transgender women as a baseball writer and television analyst.)
In fact, while I was in the middle of writing this blog, Mr. Val Boston III of Boston and Associates, one of my experienced consulting mentors forwarded me an announcement : Dr. Jamison Green, a pioneering world leader in transgender advocacy (who I even worked with early in IBM’s days of addressing transgender employees) has announced a strategic partnership with the Diversity & Inclusion Center to education organizations about transgender issues in the workplace.
Since it was several transgender people who took the bold lead in the original Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, it is totally fitting that the “T” should be front and center for LGBT Pride 2015!
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Here are some additional past blogs that can serve as LGBT Pride Month Resources:
LINK to last year’s LGBT Pride Month Blog On the Importance of Being a REAL Ally.
A Guest Blog: LGBT Gay Diversity in Direct Sales
LINK: LGBT and Housing Issues