Ac­tivists at USDA push heavy gay sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture ac­tivists want to im­pose their in­tense brand of ho­mo­sex­ual sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing gov­ern­men­twide, in­clud­ing a dis­cus­sion that com­pares “het­ero­sex­ism”, be­liev­ing mar­riage can be be­tween only one man and one woman, to racism.

If ac­cepted by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, that move could mean more ses­sions for mil­i­tary ser­vice mem­bers al­ready un­der­go­ing ho­mo­sex­ual-sen­si­tiv­ity in­doc­tri­na­tion. Crit­ics fear ad­di­tional ho­mo­sex­ual-ori­ented train­ing would add an un­nec­es­sary bur­den for com­bat troops and en­cour­age some to leave.

USDA of­fi­cials have asked the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (OPM), which over­sees all fed­eral em­ployee poli­cies, to im­pose its ho­mo­sex­d­ual-aware­ness pro­grams on all fed­eral de­part­ments, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal news­let­ter.

The push for the train­ing is com­ing from Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Thomas J. Vil­sack, for­mer gov­er­nor of Iowa. The Demo­crat has launched a de­part­men­twide “cul­tural trans­for­ma­tion” that in­cludes a Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans­gen­der (LGBT) Spe­cial Em­pha­sis Pro­gram.

The USDA’s se­nior train­ing co­or­di­na­tor, Bill Scaggs, has de­vel­oped a sen­si­tiv­ity pro­gram far more ex­ten­sive than the Pen­tagon’s train­ing for the an­tic­i­pated lift­ing of the ban on open ho­mo­sex­u­als in the ranks. His train­ing pro­gram, which OPM calls “ground­break­ing [and a] model for other agen­cies,” delves more into ho­mo­sex­ual is­sues and ter­mi­nol­ogy. It also jus­ti­fies pro­ho­mo­sex­ual po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions.

Elaine Don­nelly, who heads the Cen­ter for Mil­i­tary Readi­ness and op­poses the re­peal of the mil­i­tary’s ban on ac­knowl­edged ho­mo­sex­u­als, said it would be a mis­take for the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Obama to im­pose the USDA sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing pro­gram on the Pen­tagon.

“There are dis­turb­ing im­pli­ca­tions for na­tional de­fense in the USDA’s de­vel­op­ment of a ‘ground­break­ing’ train­ing pro­gram that is to be­come a model for other fed­eral agen­cies,” she told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

She pre­dicted that, once the ban is lifted, “train­ing pro­grams sim­i­lar to the USDA’s LGBT Spe­cial Em­pha­sis Pro­gram will be­come a growth in­dus­try within the Depart­ment of De­fense.”

“This would drive out thou­sands of ex­pe­ri­enced troops, start­ing with chap­lains and peo­ple of faith who do not sup­port LGBT ide­ol­ogy and ac­tivism,” she said.

Eileen Lainez, a Pen­tagon spokes­woman, said: “Sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing has not been a tenet of pre­vi­ous and on­go­ing re­peal train­ing, nor will it en­ter into sus­tain­ment plans.

“The key mes­sages for sus­tain­ment will be the same as with the train­ing ser­vice­mem- bers have pre­vi­ously re­ceived, with em­pha­sis on lead­er­ship, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, dis­ci­pline and re­spect.”

The Pen­tagon has been pre­par­ing 2.2 mil­lion ac­tive and re­serve troops to deal with ho­mo­sex­u­als serv­ing openly in the mil­i­tary since Congress last year re­pealed the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” pol­icy that re­quired ho­mo­sex­ual troops to keep their sex­u­al­ity pri­vate.

The Agr icul­ture Depar tment de­scribed its pro­gram in an in­ter nal news­let­ter, My USDA: A Progress Re­port for Em­ploy­ees on USDA’s Cul­tural Trans­for­ma­tion.

“Due in large part to Bill’s tire­less ef­forts, USDA is rec­og­nized as a leader among Fed­eral de­part­ments and agen­cies. Mr. Scaggs has re­cently started work­ing with OPM and the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive In­sti­tute, shar­ing the sex­ual-ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der-iden­tity di­ver­sity train­ing he de­vel­oped at USDA,” the news­let­ter said.

“OPM has called our LGBT work ‘ground­break­ing’ and ex­pressed an in­ter­est in us­ing it as a model for other fed­eral

The USDA’s se­nior train­ing co­or­di­na­tor, Bill Scaggs, has de­vel­oped a sen­si­tiv­ity pro­gram far more ex­ten­sive than the Pen­tagon’s train­ing for the an­tic­i­pated lift­ing of the ban on open ho­mo­sex­u­als in the ranks. His train­ing pro­gram, which the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment calls “ground­break­ing [and a] model for other agen­cies,” delves more into ho­mo­sex­ual is­sues and ter­mi­nol­ogy. It also jus­ti­fies pro-ho­mo­sex­ual po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions.

agen­cies.”

The news­let­ter adds: “Fu­ture col­lab­o­ra­tions with OPM are planned, with the ultimate goal of hav­ing LGBT Spe­cial Em­pha­sis Pro­grams across the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.”

Veron­ica Vil­lalo­bos, OPM’s di­rec­tor of di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion, told The Times: “OPM strongly en­cour­ages all agen­cies to con­duct di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion train­ing.

“USDA is one of the many agen­cies we are cur­rently work­ing closely with, and while OPM con­tin­ues to en­cour­age this type of train­ing, the ef­fort has not gone gov­ern­men­twide.”

Mr. Scaggs’ brief­ing for USDA em­ploy­ees is ti­tled “In­clud­ing Sex­ual Ori­en­ta­tion and Gen­der Iden­tity in Di­ver­sity.”

Slides used for brief­ing pre­sen­ta­tions re­veal top­ics such as “coura­geous con­ver­sa­tions” and “What can I do to pro­mote work­place di­ver­sity?”

One slide on gen­der iden­tity states: “In­di­vid­u­als are con­scious of [sex­ual iden­tity] be­tween the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Most peo­ple de­velop a gen­der iden­tity that matches their bi­o­log­i­cal sex. For some, gen­der iden­tity is dif­fer­ent from bi­o­log­i­cal sex (trans­sex­u­als).”

On at­tempts to change some­one from ho­mo­sex­ual to het­ero­sex­ual, the brief­ing says: “Usu­ally doesn’t work and may even be harm­ful. Can pro­duce feel­ings of de­pres­sion, hope­less­ness, shame and anx­i­ety. Some peo­ple be­come sui­ci­dal.”

It refers to the term “down low,” not­ing: “Men who dis­creetly have sex with other men while in sex­ual re­la­tion­ships with women are said to be on the ‘down low’ (or ‘DL’ for short).”

The brief­ing de­fines “het­ero­sex­ism” as an “ ‘ism’ like sex­ism or racism, where one is con­sid­ered bet­ter than oth­ers.” It gives as ex­am­ples the ban on ho­mo­sex­u­als serv­ing openly in the mil­i­tary and laws that de­fine mar­riage as a union be­tween one man and one woman.

Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment spokesman Justin DeJong said ho­mo­sex­ual di­ver­sity train­ing is part of an over­all pro­gram to cor­rect past sys­temic dis­crim­i­na­tion at USDA.

“USDA makes this train­ing avail­able as part of our com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing that all con­stituents and em­ploy­ees are treated fairly and equally,” he said. “USDA has had a pol­icy against dis­crim­i­nat­ing against peo­ple based on their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion since 1993, and this was fur­ther for­mal­ized when Pres­i­dent Clin­ton signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der re­gard­ing sex­ual or ien­ta­tion em­ploy­ment nondis­crim­i­na­tion in 1998.”

Mr. Obama has courted the ho­mo­sex­ual vote and cam­paigned on re­peal­ing the mil­i­tary’s ho­mo­sex­ual ban. In of­fice, he has de­cided not to de­fend in court the De­fense of Mar­riage Act, which Mr. Clin­ton signed and which de­fines mar­riage as a union be­tween one man and one woman.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

USDA Ap­proved: Trans­ves­tites and other demon­stra­tors march in New York June 17 as part of a vigil for same-sex mar­riage held by an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Queer Ris­ing.

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