America’s national parks are about to add a new layer of storytelling to their mission: highlighting the achievements of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
Building on President Obama's diversity demands, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Tuesday is set to begin the process of identifying potential gay history sites and LGBT events for the National Park Service to promote.
The effort could lead to the naming of new LGBT historical places, the installation of history-noting plaques and even park rangers telling the stories of ground-breaking gays.
Jewell on Tuesday will launch the first effort of the administration's “LGBT Heritage Theme Study.” Interior said that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; John Berry, Obama's openly gay ambassador to Australia; and several historians and scholars will “discuss ways to celebrate and interpret lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history in the context of broader American history.”
Late last month, Jewell announced her initiative at New York's famed Stonewall Inn, a national historic landmark for being the site of a 1969 riot credited for beginning the LGBT civil rights movement.
“The contributions of women, minorities and members of the LGBT community have been historically underrepresented in the National Park Service, and the LGBT theme study will help ensure that we understand, commemorate and share these key chapters in our nation’s complex and diverse history,” she said.
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis added, “As we prepare to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial in 2016, we have rededicated ourselves to sharing more diverse stories of our nation’s history, particularly the struggles for civil rights.”
Interior said the study will be partially funded by the Gill Foundation, an LGBT advocacy group.
The National Park Service has several other ongoing heritage initiatives to note the contributions of minorities to U.S. history, including Latinos, women, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.