“The Biden Administration has reaffirmed its commitment to undertake an honest and long overdue reckoning with sexism and structural racism in our society.”
(Chicago, January 20, 2021) – Among the first actions taken after his inauguration, President Biden rescinded the Trump administration executive order that sought to prohibit federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society. In late December, SAGE joined Lambda Legal to secure a preliminary injunction to block implementation of key aspects of the executive order in federal district court.
“LGBTQ+ elders have been dealing with the consequences of sexism and racism for many decades,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “We could not be more thrilled that on his first day in office, President Biden moved to immediately reverse the Trump administration’s ban on this training that is so essential to fairness in federally supported programs. At SAGE, we look forward to continuing to use training to replace systemic bias with fairness and equity.”
This action rescinded the Trump administration Executive Order, issued September 22, 2020, and later Trump administration guidance that labeled the discussion of intersectionality, critical race theory, white privilege, systemic racism, or implicit or unconscious bias in diversity training as “race and sex scapegoating” and forbade agencies from “promot[ing]” these “divisive concepts.” The order described such trainings as un-American, directed agency heads to audit internal training curricula and discontinue these trainings, to conduct a similar audit of federal contractors, and to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant-funded activities cover these topics.
“The Trump administration’s effort to quash any discussion of the continued pernicious impact of structural racism, implicit bias, and sexism in U.S. society was both gratuitous and harmful,” said Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director, Lambda Legal. “This past summer’s protests after the murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color have made that very clear. Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to confront these issues. The Biden Administration has reaffirmed its commitment to undertake an honest and long overdue reckoning with sexism and structural racism in our society.”
On November 2, SAGE was a plaintiff in Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a consulting company, an individual plaintiff, and additional organizational plaintiffs, including LGBTQ+ Centers and HIV/AIDS health and advocacy organizations from across the country.
The consultancy plaintiff is B. Brown Consulting, a Michigan-based business with a federal contract to train correctional facility staff, governmental agencies, and nonprofits. The individual plaintiff is Dr. Ward Carpenter, co-director of Health Services at LA LGBTQ+ Center. The organizational plaintiffs include: the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Center; The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, CA; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; CrescentCare in New Orleans, LA; Bradbury-Sullivan LGBTQ+ Community Center in Allentown, PA; and, SAGE, based in New York City.
Lambda Legal’s team working on the case includes: Camilla Taylor; Karen Loewy; Scott Schoettes; Currey Cook; Omar Gonzalez-Pagan; Avatara A. Smith-Carrington; Alexis Paige; and, Cheryl Angelaccio. They are joined by pro-bono co-counsel from Ropes & Gray, including: Douglas Hallward-Driemeier; Kirsten Mayer; Nathalia Sosa; Jessica Soto; Thanithia Billing; Annie Monjar; Jennifer Cullinane; Ethan Weinberg; Fred Boehrer; and, William Richard Allen.
SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBTQ+ older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBTQ+ elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBTQ+ community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and policy work. www.lambdalegal.org
We’re a national advocacy and services organization that’s been looking out for LGBTQ+ elders since 1978. We build welcoming communities and keep our issues in the national conversation to ensure a fulfilling future for all LGBTQ+ people.