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‘It’s about inclusion’: Expert reacts to Biden’s policy changes related to LGBTQ community

The Biden administration moved quickly to tackle workplace discrimination, particularly discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

President Joe Biden’s new executive order prohibits the federal government from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity.

Biden also signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the military. The new order immediately prohibits any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity.

Victoria Pelletier, an expert on diversity and inclusion, said Biden’s orders reflect a shift toward inclusiveness across the country.

“What I can see is, particularly around the transgender (ban) lifted in the military, is much more like Black Lives Matter -- it is a statement around belonging and inclusiveness,” said Pelletier, co-author of the book Unstoppable: Stories of Change Makers who Dare to Make a Difference. “I do see that Biden has taken demonstrable steps. His administration is very diverse, inclusive across the board. What he’s done in his first week has demonstrated that.”

The decision comes as Biden plans to turn his attention to equity issues that he believes continue to shadow nearly all aspects of American life. Ahead of his inauguration, Biden’s transition team circulated a memo saying Biden planned to use his first full week as president “to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities.”

“This is important for everyone and I do think we’re going to continue to see progress made,” Pelletier said. “We need to look at the values that as Americans we have and the reasons people want to be here. The values we have are freedom for all. All is critical.”

Biden’s military order directs the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to take steps to implement the order for the military and the Coast Guard. And it says they must reexamine the records of service members who were discharged or denied reenlistment due to gender identity issues under the previous policy.

It requires the departments to submit a report to the president on their progress within 60 days.

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Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed to this report.


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