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National Park Service is lifting its ban on wearing uniforms at Pride events

After a new memo from the National Park Service (NPS) in early May, employees of the organization expressed their disapproval. The National Park Service has made some changes to its policy for staffers who want to wear their uniforms for events. This new ban by the NPS will subsequently impact staff attendance at Pride parades, despite the location.

Although national parks are an important feature of the United States, there are many more functions of the NPS. Community outreach has been a major focus of the organization in recent years. The National Park Service has been participating in Pride events for years, so this move is frowned upon by many who believe the decision was in poor taste or targeted the LGBTQIA+ community. The National Park Service ban was communicated to employees just a month before National Pride Month.

The details of the National Park Service ban

The initial ban for employees was sent in a memo on May 9. Although the memo did not directly mention Pride, it did note a major difference in uniform policies. The uniform policy determines when and where employees can wear their official NPS clothing, including when off park grounds. The NPS memo stated that the new ban was issued to ensure that staff’s professional and personal lives were balanced.

The National Park Service’s ban stated that employees are prohibited from “attending or participating in any demonstration or public event where wearing the uniform could be construed as the organization’s support of a particular issue, position or political side.” While this is an important part of upholding the credibility and importance of the NPS, the new ban was unexpected and caused controversy due to its reasoning and timing. NPS employees attend Pride events each year at many different celebrations across the country. The ban removed that presence.

The new memo banned employees from wearing their uniforms at public events, clearly referring to events like Pride parades. This ban raised concerns about the alliance and the organization’s stance toward the LGBTQIA+ community. Because NPS employees have been coming to Pride in uniform for years, this ban raised red flags. On behalf of the alliance, there were calls online for the decision to be changed.

Updates on the situation

Due to public and employee concerns, the National Park Service released a new memo on May 24. In the new memo, the organization essentially backtracks on its initial statement. Rather than acknowledge the public’s very specific concerns, the memo changed the ban. Moving forward, staff will be able to continue to represent the National Park Service at events. At events that fall under the special category, the staff can do this. This will likely include celebrations such as Pride, Black History Month, and Native American History Month. Employees will be able to march in parades and more, depending on their agency. Despite the rapid change in the ban, some travelers anticipate a drastic change in staff presence. Only time will tell what the turnout will be for the staff supporters attending Pride.