Interior secretary says National Park Service employees can wear uniforms to Pride events

“I want to ensure that every employee has the opportunity to thrive in a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment,” Deb Haaland wrote, reversing an earlier ban.

(Jon Austria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP) United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Southwest Regional Office, in Albuquerque, N.M., on Sunday, June 11, 2023. On Friday, May 24, 2024, Haaland sent out an email to National Park Service employees reversing a directive that would have disallowed them from participating in Pride events while in uniform.

In a reversal of a policy issued a week earlier, the secretary of the Interior has said that National Park Service employees can participate in Pride events while in uniform, according to The Advocate.

The National Park Service’s directive, issued May 17, said that “requests from employees asking to participate in uniform in a variety of events and activities, including events not organized by the NPS” conflicted with the agency’s policy, The Advocate said.

In response, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland send an email to all National Park Service employees on Friday, reversing the directive, The Advocate said.

“I want to ensure that every employee has the opportunity to thrive in a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment,” Haaland wrote in the message, which The Advocate obtained. The National Park Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior.

The directive had spurred a backlash in the LGBTQ community, including from environmentalist and drag artist Pattie Gonia, who called for action on Instagram. “National Park Service, this is not what allyship looks like,” they posted.

Haaland’s email discussed the importance of Special Emphasis Months, which include observances for LGBTQ pride, as well as observances for American Indians, Juneteenth and Women’s Equality Day.

Haaland wrote that participating in these events “could include marching units in parades, booths at parades, events, etc.”

“This would allow employees to participate in uniform representing their respective bureau,” Haaland wrote. “This direction takes effect immediately.”

On the National Park Service’s website, it reads: “During Pride Month in June and throughout the year, the National Park Service and our partners celebrate the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans past and present, as well as preserve the rich histories of the LBGTQ Americans found in national parks and communities across the country.”

The National Park Service also maintains and provides educational advisory services at New York City’s Christopher Park, located inside the Stonewall National Monument, according to the Stonewall National Monument Foundation Document. Stonewall was the site of a 1969 uprising centered around a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, that was “a watershed moment for LGBTQ rights and a transformative event in the nation’s civil rights movement,” the document reads.