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Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI)

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LGBT Program

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!

MOUs and Partnership Agreements:

  • Under development

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