Shunned to Celebrated: How LGBT Rights Have Evolved in the Federal Workplace

By on June 19, 2016 in Current Events with 155 Comments

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Acting Office of Personnel Management (OPM) director Beth Cobert writes in a recent blog post that the federal government sets an example for all employers with respect to how people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community should be treated by others.

“At OPM, we have been at the forefront of implementing Administration policy and court decisions that expand rights for the LGBT community,” wrote Cobert.

“Here at OPM, we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent any discrimination in our Federal workplaces. We have worked to make sure LGBT employees have the same rights and benefits as all Federal employees.”

Cobert went on to encourage everyone to take time in June to support LGBT people in honor of Pride Month, an event President Obama declared via proclamation on May 31.

Times have certainly changed on the issue in the federal government.

In the 1950s, Executive Order 10450 effectively banned homosexuals from working for the government, and a number were fired from their civil service jobs for “sexual perversion” as defined by the Executive Order.

In fact, in a rather famous case, Frank Kameny, a federal employee who worked as an astronomer, was fired from his job under the guidance of this Executive Order and was reportedly the first former federal employee to challenge his removal for being gay. OPM apologized to him for his removal in 2009.

In light of actions such as the president’s proclamation of Pride Month, the Education Department’s directive that public schools must allow transgender students to use the bathroom facilities of their choice, and Cobert’s blog post encouraging agencies to follow OPM as the model for preventing gender identity discrimination in the federal workplace, the federal government’s policies have changed dramatically since President Eisenhower issued his executive order in 1953.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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