A coalition of LGBTQ groups has sued the Trump administration over a recent executive order prohibiting federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in any grant-funded work acknowledging the existence of structural racism or sexism.
The order, issued by President Trump on Sept. 22, categorizes trainings that address topics such as implicit bias, intersectionality, white privilege, systemic racism, or critical race theory as “divisive” and un-American, and directs federal agencies to suspend or deny funding to contractors or grantees who hold seminars or trainings that “promote” so-called “race and sex scapegoating.”
The plaintiffs, who are being represented by Lambda Legal, include the Los Angeles LGBT Center, The Diversity Center in Santa Cruz, Calif., the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the New Orleans-based CrescentCare, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pa., and SAGE: Service & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, as well as B. Brown Consulting, a Michigan-based business with a federal contract to train correctional facility staff, government agencies, and nonprofits, and Dr. Ward Carpenter, the co-director of Health Services at LA LGBT Center.
In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the plaintiffs claim that the executive order violates their free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution, disfavoring them based on their viewpoint and the content of their speech.
The lawsuit also alleges the order violated their Fifth Amendment right to due process by infringing on their free speech and providing “inadequate notice of the conduct it purports to prohibit.”
The plaintiffs are asking for a ruling declaring the executive order to be unconstitutional, preliminary and permanent injunctions blocking the government from attempting to enforce the executive order, and the cost of attorney’s fees for having to bring the lawsuit.
“We are fighting three epidemics: COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and an epidemic of violence perpetrated against Black people by law enforcement,” Camilla Taylor, the director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, said in a statement. “Communities of color 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.
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“Our plaintiffs — LGBT community centers, health care providers, HIV/AIDS service organizations, advocates for LGBT seniors, and a consultancy working in the juvenile and criminal justice systems — are committed to ending these epidemics,” Taylor continued. “The work they do saves lives. But to do it, and do it effectively, they have to train people about the role of implicit bias in contributing to disparities, and explicitly acknowledge and confront systemic racism, sexism, and anti-LGBT bias. President Trump wants to silence them, but they refuse to be silenced. The LGBT community knows all too well that silence equals death.”
“The Trump administration’s vague and nonsensical executive order causes direct harm to organizations like Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center that frequently provide training to government contractors,” Adrian Shanker, the community center’s executive director, said in a statement. “In the midst of a global pandemic, we need to continue to train healthcare professionals, but the chilling effects of this executive order call our ability to do so into question.”
“For the past decade, SAGE has provided training and technical assistance to increase the cultural competence of elder care providers at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender, and race,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s late-breaking attack on this training — some of which has been funded by the very same federal government that the President leads — is profoundly damaging to long-established efforts to counteract discrimination in essential services. We are determined to challenge and defeat this deeply misguided assault from the White House.”
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