US LGBT+ rights groups launched a legal attack against the Trump administration on Monday (2 November) after the president banned diversity training in federal agencies.
Filed with the federal court in Washington, DC, plaintiffs Los Angeles LGBT Center, NO/AIDS Task Force d.b.a. CrescentCare and Dr Ward Carpeneter are jostling to peel back an executive order signed by Donald Trump in September.
The order prohibits federal agencies, contractors and grant recipients from offering certain diversity training that Trump deemed “anti-American” and “divisive”.
In doing this, the lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal and Ropes & Gray states, Trump officials are stymieing workplace attempts to address systemic racism and sexism.
Diversity training is ‘race and sex scapegoating’ and ‘promotes division’, says Trump administration.
The three healthcare providers, which each receive federal funding in the form of grants and contracts, also argue that the order has thrown the crucial work they do for low-income LGBT+ folk into disarray.
Training schemes to teach staff the realities of structural racism and sexism, they say, are invaluable.
“The reality is you cannot segregate LGBTQ equality from racial justice,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cumming in a press release.
“You simply cannot do this work without addressing institutionalised racism which LGBTQ, Black, and Indigenous People of Colour have experienced historically and continue to face every day.”
Issued in September, the Executive Order dubbed implicit or unconscious bias in diversity training as “race and sex scapegoating” and forbade agencies from “promoting […] divisive concepts”.
The order forced agencies to suspend or deny funding to such programs, where agency chiefs are encouraged to audit internal training materials as well as audit federal contractors.
“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 colour 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.”
The lawsuit from LGBT+ groups comes after civil rights groups filed a similar suit in October. The complaint described the order as “unconstitutionally vague” and a direct attack on free speech.