LA LGBT Center Joins Federal Lawsuit Challenging Trump Admin’s Ban on Workplace Diversity Trainings

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The Los Angeles LGBT Center joined a federal lawsuit filed on Monday by Lambda Legal and Ropes & Gray which challenges the Trump administration’s recent Executive Order 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. Describing the trainings, which cover topics such as implicit bias or critical race theory, as “divisive” and “un-American,” the order directs agencies to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant-funded activities cover these topics.

“The reality is you cannot segregate LGBTQ equality from racial justice. Core to our mission is training other providers—from foster youth organizations and medical professionals to those who work to end homelessness—to ensure that, whichever door our community uses to access essential services, those services are provided in an LGBTQ culturally responsive manner,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings. “You simply cannot do this work without addressing institutionalized racism which LGBTQ, Black, and Indigenous People of Color have experienced historically and continue to face every day.”

The Executive Order (issued on September 22, 2020) and subsequent Trump administration guidance label the discussions of intersectionality, critical race theory, white privilege, systemic racism, or implicit or unconscious bias in diversity trainings as “race and sex scapegoating” and forbid agencies from “promot[ing]” these “divisive concepts.” It directs agency heads to audit internal training curricula, discontinue these trainings, and conduct a similar audit of federal contractors which puts those contracts at risk.

“We are fighting three epidemics—COVID‐19, HIV/AIDS, and an epidemic of violence perpetrated against Black people by law enforcement,” said Camilla Taylor, Director of Constitutional Litigation, Lambda Legal. “Communities of color face shocking health disparities with respect to both COVID‐19 and HIV/AIDS. Black and Brown people are more likely to get sick, and more likely to die as a result of systemic racism and sexism, structural inequities, and the role of explicit and implicit bias on the part of health care providers.”

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit The Diversity Center v. Trump in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of the Center and five other organizational plaintiffs (including an advocacy and service organization for LGBT seniors as well as HIV/AIDS health and advocacy organizations nationwide), a consulting company, and an individual plaintiff. The organizational plaintiffs are the Los Angeles LGBT Center; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Bradbury‐Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA; CrescentCare in New Orleans; The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, CA; and SAGE, based in New York City. The consultancy 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 the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Health Services Co-Director Dr. Ward Carpenter.

“Our plaintiffs—LGBT community centers, health care providers, HIV/AIDS service organizations, advocates for LGBT seniors, and a consultancy working in the juvenile and criminal justice systems—are committed to ending these epidemics,” Taylor added. “The work they do saves lives. But to do it, and do it effectively, they have to train people about the role of implicit bias in contributing to disparities, and explicitly acknowledge and confront systemic racism, sexism, and anti‐LGBT bias. President Trump wants to silence them, but they refuse to be silenced. The LGBT community knows all too well that silence equals death.”

Lambda Legal lawyers working on the case include: Camilla Taylor, Karen Loewy, Scott Schoettes, Currey Cook, Omar Gonzalez‐Pagan, and Avatara A. Smith‐Carrington. 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, and Ethan Weinberg.

“We will not stand by idly as the Trump Administration attempts to violate our freedom of speech and sugarcoat our nation’s history while risking harm to members of our community. We look forward to our day in court,” said Cummings.

To read the full complaint The Diversity Center v. Trump, visit bit.ly/thediversitycenter

For more information about the plaintiffs, visit bit.ly/thediversitycenterplaintiffs

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