VA is committed to a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace. We understand
that diversity and inclusion are essential for a high performing organization that
delivers the best service to our Veterans. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
(LGBT) community is an integral aspect of our human diversity. To that end, VA has
implemented several policies and programs over the last few years that specifically
address the needs and concerns of the LGBT community. Since 2009, VA has included
equal employment opportunity protections for employees on the basis of sexual orientation
in the Secretary’s Annual EEO, Diversity, and No FEAR Policy Statement
which added protections based on gender identity and parental status as well. To complement
this, VA developed and implemented an internal complaint process to provide employees
with an internal avenue of redress for complaints based on these areas:
“VA will not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color,
religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, gender identity, parental status, sexual
orientation, age, disability, genetic information, or retaliation for opposing discriminatory
practices or participating in the discrimination complaint process. This applies
to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruitment, hiring, promotions,
transfers, reassignments, training, career development, benefits, and separation…
While sexual orientation, genetic information, parental status, marital status,
and political affiliation are not listed as protected bases in Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act, discrimination on these bases is strictly prohibited by VA. Complaints
of discrimination filed on these bases will be processed according to the aforementioned
Federal EEO complaint process up to and through the investigation stage of the EEO
process. The VA Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication will
issue a Final Agency Decision on the merits of the claim within 60 days of its receipt
of the complaint file. Complaints filed solely on this basis will not proceed to
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Other avenues of redress available
to raise a claim of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity,
or parental status include the Negotiated or Administrative Grievance Procedure.
Both permit claims of discrimination, and if otherwise appealable, raising the matter
with the Office of Special Counsel and/or the Merit Systems Protection Board if
the claim of discrimination is coupled with adverse impact and/or prohibited personnel
practices. While a discrimination allegation may be raised with these avenues, it
does not constitute initiation of a complaint through this internal complaint process,
and it does not extend the 45-day time limited to initiate such complaint with [the
VA Office of Resolution Management].” [See the complete
VA EEO Policy.]
ODI is leading the effort to increase education and awareness of the LGBT community
by establishing a formal LGBT special emphasis program. To enhance that program,
an LGBT employee resource group under the auspices of the VA Diversity Council was
also established. ODI holds annually nationally broadcast VA-wide LGBT Observance
Program in Washington, DC in June focusing on LGBT Veterans. Additionally, we
are developing cultural competency training in this area for employees, supervisors,
and managers, nationtionally throughout the VA system.
In the area of health care delivery, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is
committed to a patient-centered approach that organizes services around the needs
and values of the LGBT Veterans. To that end, in 2010, VA issued a policy statement
last June providing for patient visitation rights in support of the needs of LGBT
family members. Last June, VHA issued a policy directive on respectful delivery
of health care to transgender and intersex individuals, and is currently providing
training for health care providers on services for transgender Veterans.
In 2013, VA’s commitment to LGBT Healthcare resulted in 120 VA’s participating
in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Health Equity Index (HEI) almost 80%, which
was voluntary participation. An impressive 91 of those facilities reporting or
76% were awarded HEI 2013 Equality Leader status.
Each VA employee who interacts with Veteran patients is expected to demonstrate
our core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. As public
servants, VA employees have an obligation to remain respectful and courteous to
all patients without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex,
age, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, and gender identity. VA will continue to ensure
that we provide an environment where veterans can receive the health care and benefits
they have earned.
Are you a VA employee, veteran, dependant, or support person who has questions or
concerns about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender (LGBT) issues? The VA’s
newly organized LGBT Workgroup has established an LGBT e-mail group to address questions
or concerns regarding LGBT issues. The e-mail address is
LGBTWorkgroup@va.gov. Send your e-mail to this address and a member of the
Workgroup will review your e-mail and make every effort to get you a response or
address your concern. The e-mail group is confidential; even if your email is forwarded
to another office for guidance or a response, your name will be omitted to protect
your privacy. Try it!
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