APG celebrates inclusion at annual Pride Observance

By Maya GreenJune 27, 2023

Hamilton hugs Allman at APG's annual Pride observance
Deputy Chair of the Defense Centers for Public Health - Aberdeen K’Juanji Hamilton embraces panelist Matt Allman, an epidemiologist at DCPH-A, after presenting him with a gift at APG’s annual Pride Observance in the Myer Auditorium on June 13, 2023. (Photo Credit: Maya Green, APG News) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Under the theme of “peace, love and inclusion,” the Defense Centers for Public Health – Aberdeen in conjunction with its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Advisory Council hosted APG’s annual Pride Month Observance in the Myer Auditorium June 13, 2023.

Dr. Lisa Ruth, of the DCPH-A DEIA Advisory Council, opened the event as the narrator with a statement on the Department of Defense’s mission for federal employees.

“It is the DoD’s continual mission to ensure the workplace is fair for all as we strive for equality without exception for marginalized communities,” she began. “Including those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, plus communities.”

Following a rendition of the national anthem from Staff Sgt. JaVon Griffith, APG Senior Commander and Commanding General of U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Maj. Gen. Robert L. Edmonson II provided opening remarks.

“Throughout history, LGBTQ+ Soldiers and civilians have bravely served and defended our country, remaining committed and resilient through adversity,” he stated. “All of us here owe so much to these brave, pioneering and influential individuals.”

Edmonson closed his remarks with a call-to-action for the APG workforce.

“It is imperative that we continue to work together to promote inclusivity, ensuring respect and equal opportunity for everyone,” he said. “It is the talent, skills and abilities in our diverse force that ensure our Army meets future challenges and continues to win on the battlefield.”

Antonios Chionis, chair of the DCPH-A DEIA Advisory Council, shared some history of Pride observance in the federal workforce.

About 10,000 federal employees were fired or forced to resign during the “Lavender Scare,” a moral panic about LGBTQ+ people working in the U.S. government, he said. During this time, members of the LGBTQ+ community were accused of being a threat to national security and unworthy of public trust.

Chionis noted recent progress through the signing of executive orders by President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal workplace. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, Chionis added.

The program’s main event featured a panel of members of the DoD community who gathered to share their unique perspectives for APG’s pride celebration.

The panel consisted of contractor Matt Allman, epidemiologist at DCPH-A; Pfc. Robert Bohemier, MOS 68K – medical laboratory specialist at DCPH-A; Mykel Hankins, U.S. Army veteran; Lisa Polyak, environmental engineer at DCPH-A; and moderator Dr. Robyn Nadolny, chief of the Vector-Borne Disease Branch of the Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory at DCPH-A.

The panel discussed topics of the importance of Pride in the DoD setting, recognizing barriers broken for LGBTQ+ members in the community and workplace, how allies can help promote peace, love and inclusion and more.

Director of DCPH-A Dr. Steven Cersovsky’s closing remarks for the annual Pride observance urged the audience to take what they learned and be kind.

To watch a MS Teams recording of the event, visit: https://dod.teams.microsoft.us/l/meetup-join/19%3adod%3ameeting_7d6d5fa537e245ba9d3162840c5129bc%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22fae6d70f-954b-4811-92b6-0530d6f84c43%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%225367987d-e4d5-4dc5-b5b6-6b7ef39f5fbc%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d

Click here to see photos from the event: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAHWAh.