An upcoming summit, intended to give LGBTQ federal workers an opportunity to meet and network, has been cancelled by organizers in accordance with President Trump’s recent executive order requiring review of diversity training in U.S. agencies to ban critical race theory, the Washington Blade has learned.
The Pride in Federal Service Summit, intended to take place virtually amid the coronavirus epidemic, was initially scheduled for Oct. 21-22 and an estimated 500 participants affiliated with the interagency LGBTQ affinity group for federal workers were expected to attend.
But according to an internal email shared with the Washington Blade, members of the Pride in Federal Service Summit planning committee announced Tuesday they were forced to postpone the event indefinitely — effectively cancelling it — to comply with Executive Order 13950, which Trump signed last month to ban critical race theory in employment despite consternation from proponents of anti-racism diversity training.
“The Pride in Federal Service Summit Planning Committee is disappointed to announce the postponement of the Summit,” writes Meghan Walter, a Portland, Ore.-based employee of the Department of Agriculture and president of Equality USDA, citing guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management seeking to implement Trump’s executive order.
Multiple sources familiar with the event confirmed to the Washington Blade on condition of anonymity the email was accurate and the Pride summit was indeed cancelled.
“We do not have a timeline for rescheduling the summit, but anticipate no sooner than February 2021,” Walter writes. “The committee has made every effort to pivot in response to these memos and the EO and continue forward with the summit. The OPM guidance issued on Friday has drastically impacted our Summit plans and we see no alternative other than to postpone.”
Among the topics for the summit: Building resilient and inclusive employee resource groups, LGBTQ cultural competency, best practices for workplace inclusion and sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination policies in federal employment.
Organizers with Pride in Federal Service Summit didn’t respond late Friday to the Washington Blade’s inquiry about whether they had reached out to the Office of Personnel Management to confirm they couldn’t hold the event or whether it was cancelled based on an interpretation of the guidance on Trump’s order, nor when they first announced the event and whether that was before or after Trump signed the directive.
The OPM guidance, however, requires the submission of all trainings to the Office of Personnel Management and White House Office of Management & Budget by Nov. 22 for approval to ensure critical race theory, which posits white supremacy is maintained in society without active anti-racist intervention, plays no component.
“These divisive trainings constitute a malign subset of a larger pool of Federal agency trainings held to promote diversity and inclusiveness,” writes OMB Director Russ Vought in a Sept. 22 memo. “The sort of training at issue does neither; it sows division among the workforce by attempting to prescribe and impose upon employees a conformity of belief in ideologies that label entire groups of Americans as inherently racist or evil (e.g., critical race theory).”
The White House didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment on whether Trump is OK with the cancellation of the Pride event as a result of his executive order.
Trump, however, has railed against critical race theory as a source of harmful ideology and division in the federal government, addressing his order to abolish the training in response to a question from Chris Wallace last week in his debate with Joe Biden.
“If you were a certain person, you had no status in life,” Trump said. “It was sort of a reversal. And if you look at that the people, we would pay people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach, very bad ideas and, frankly, very sick ideas and really, they were teaching people to hate our country, and I’m not going to do that, I’m not going to allow that to happen.”