National Park Service Announces LGBT Theme Study
June 6, 2014
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announces a new theme study, as part of the National Park Service Heritage Initiative that will identify places and events associated with the story of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans for inclusion in the parks and programs of the agency.
The theme study is part of a broader initiative under the Obama Administration to ensure that the National Park Service reflects and tells a more complete story of the people and events responsible for building this nation. The National Park Service has ongoing heritage initiatives to commemorate minorities and women who have made significant contributions to our nation's history and culture, including studies related to the history of Latinos, women, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
This building, now 14 years ago, was named a National Historic Landmark. We're proud of that part of the National Park Service's role to preserve this part of history, but it's time for us to do more.
We are announcing that we are going to be launching a theme study next month. The 10th of June, we will be pulling together our nation's finest scholars who will help us tell this story effectively for all Americans.
There are many people across universities and other parts of this nation that know the story and can help tell the story.
LGBT history is not littered with historic, larger-than-life figures. Rather, it's a history made by each and every individual who works for equality.
There should be a plaque placed where Sara came out to her dad, where John explained to his kids that he was gay, and where Frank tried to explain to his grandma what it meant to transition.
That history should be recognized. It should be taught. The federal government taking this step begins to allow us to have that conversation about ensuring that LGBT history is told inclusively and accurately across this country.
We have a plaque here in New York, but there are plaques that could be placed in Laramie, Wyoming, in parts of Mississippi, somewhere in Arizona. To decide where are those places, where people can stand and think about the people that came before them, it gives me goose bumps thinking about it.
I think it's amazing. Honestly, I think it's something we've needed in our country for a very long time. What I'm really amazed about is I had no idea that it was the park rangers that dealt with this, that it was Interior stuff. I'm really happy that this is moving forward.
Each of you create the history, you create the equality that makes this movement work. When you leave here, you must take more steps. You must do more things to make sure that America acknowledges every single individual and their right to love who they are and to be who they are. Thank you.