A current Park Service employee shares their concerns about the removal of sexual orientation from workplace protections for Interior Department staff.
Editor’s Note: The author is a current National Park Service employee. NPCA staff have worked with this individual in the past and can verify their identity. However, for their protection, we cannot reveal their name or where they work.
I can’t tell you my name, because I work for the National Park Service (NPS) — and it could cause trouble at work if my bosses at the Interior Department know I’m speaking out now.
I’ve worked at NPS for 10 years and I have been so proud of the work I do to conserve public land and preserve cultural resources. It’s more than a job — this work is part of who I am and it reflects my own personal values. I’m also an out lesbian who meets people every year at Pride events who stop and thank me for the ways NPS recognizes that LGBTQ stories are American stories.
Now, however, my employer — the Department of Interior (DOI) — is removing “sexual orientation” from its guidelines about ensuring equal opportunities in the workplace. This goes against the fundamental values of America and the National Park Service… and it should be reversed immediately.
I was shocked to see this change since DOI’s own studies show that people like me experience daily occurrences of bias, aggression and hostility just for being LGBTQ. We are mis-gendered, we are passed over for opportunities of all kinds and we are outright discriminated against at alarmingly high levels.
Eliminating sexual orientation from DOI’s ethics guidelines makes all those roadblocks even more difficult to overcome.
Worse still, I feel like they’re saying that they won’t fight for people like me to have the same opportunities as my coworkers. Like they’re saying they don’t see the value LGBTQ employees have in telling America’s stories. Like they’re saying they don’t value the ways we can reach out to people that have been left out or censored from American history.
America’s national parks reflect our nation’s values, and my colleagues at the Park Service work every day to uphold those values. We need our bosses at DOI to show that those values will always be defended in the workplace.
Tell the Department of Interior to restore full ethics protections for LGBTQ employees!
I know that thousands of my coworkers want DOI’s ethics rules to reflect the values of our parks. And I know that millions of Americans do, too.
NPCA supporters have always stood with our parks and with Park Service staff. Thank you for standing with us now.
An NPS Employee