Each June, we highlight LGBTQ+ PRIDE month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. But, this year the month feels quite different.
On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that federal civil rights laws protect millions of gay, lesbian, and transgender workers nationwide. The court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex extends to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation. This decision certainly filled me with PRIDE!
When I began my career 30 years ago, many gay people, like me, hid who they were in the workplace. I initially did. After all, up until this month, LGBTQ+ workers in many states could lose their jobs without recourse, simply for being gay.
In recognizing how our laws have changed for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to observe the NCUA’s evolution. When I first joined the agency in 2011, no formal network to bring LGBTQ+ staff and their allies together existed. Today, we have seven voluntary employee resource groups aimed at fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational purposes. Groups like NCUA PRIDE make the NCUA a stronger, more inclusive agency and a better place to work. That’s good for everyone in the credit union system.
There’s another, more sobering reason why PRIDE month feels different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people gather. We have no parades and festivals. What is more, research from the Human Rights Campaign highlights that the LGBTQ+ community is at both heightened health and economic risk from the coronavirus, as we are more likely to work in jobs in highly impacted industries and with higher economic sensitivity to the pandemic. Statistically, the LGBTQ+ community is also less likely to have health coverage and more likely to smoke and have chronic illnesses, which puts us in a higher-risk category.
Nevertheless, we are a strong community, and together we will work through this latest challenge, just as we did through the AIDS crisis, with our allies, supporting each other. I will keep working within my sphere of influence to do what I can to address the economic havoc the coronavirus has wreaked for all communities. I will also continue working to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within both the NCUA and the credit union system. I encourage you all to do the same.
Be safe. Be well. Be kind. Have PRIDE!