DAHLGREN, Va. - Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren
Division (NSWCDD) recognized Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
Pride Month with guest speaker Amanda Simpson Army Office of Energy Initiatives
executive Director, July 24.
The observance, held at the Naval Support Facility
Dahlgren base theater, inspired personnel to create a culture of inclusion.
"I am happy now that the Department of Defense (DoD)
formally recognizes that everyone has something to offer regardless of sexual
orientation," said NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Brian Durant, in his
Durant shared a personal experience during his early
years in the Navy where he observed inequality due to sexual orientation. He
witnessed peers with the potential to be great leaders leave the Navy because
they could not be who they really were.
The NSWCDD Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office and
DoD's goal is to provide opportunities for everyone, military and civilian, to
recognize the importance of diversity within the DoD workforce.
"It is an honor to be your inaugural speaker,"
said Simpson at the first NSWCDD LGBT Pride Month Observance. "These kinds
of dialogs were not possible a decade ago."
Established in 2009 for the month of June, LGBT Pride
Month promotes and encourages a celebration of honesty and openness within the
The LGBT movement was later strengthened by the repeal of
the 2011 Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act creating a landmark for our country's
service members and allowing gay, lesbian and bisexuals to serve openly in the
United States Armed Forces.
The audience, comprising military members, government
civilians and contractors, listened to Simpson present her theme - "To see
beyond the obvious and go beyond the unwritten rule".
She explained: "Unwritten rules are the hardest to
change, and they affect nearly every decision that we make."
Society reinforces these unwritten rules, the Special
Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy, and
Environment) pointed out.
"There's news programming, and themes of movies and
advertising," she explained, adding that, "It is all about teaching
us the rules they want us to follow."
Simpson recounted that she developed skills as an
engineer, flight instructor and program manager but didn't lose those skills as
a transgender person. On the contrary, she was more effective once she could
work and live as her authentic self.
"It is a matter of authenticating and personal
integrity," said Simpson, emphasizing that diversity of thought and
background must also be embraced. "Failure to do so limits our capability
to do great things."
Reflecting on the reason she was willing to go through
the pain of the publicity and embarrassment of parodies of her on talk shows,
Simpson affirmed that, "to be authentic to who I am, I had to change the
We can honor diversity by looking closely at who we turn
to for advice and who gets the good assignments, said Simpson.
People practice the unconscious rule of choosing people
who look and act like themselves, she explained. Unconsciously, our logic tells
us that we want to be around people who are like us because there is a better
chance that they will agree with us. But what we really need is someone with a
different view to solve the problems and create innovative products.
Simpson said she intentionally reaches out to all types
of diverse groups - by race, creed, and minority groups.
"Our common bond of freedom unites us all," she
said, adding that LGBT society has something to share with each group and each
group contributes to the LGBT society.
Earlier this year, revisions to the DoD military equal
opportunity policy were completed, updating the policy to include sexual
orientation, and compelling the DoD to hold the standard of treating
sexual-orientation-based discrimination equal to the discrimination of race,
religion, color, sex, age and national origin.
"All people deserve to live with dignity and
respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination,
regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation," quoted from
President Barack Obama's presidential proclamation May 29. "During
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud
legacy (that) LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation."