The Air Force hosted 67 Pride celebrations in 2022, according to the first Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion quarterly newsletter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Among those events, top Air Force leaders participated in the first service-wide LGBTQ+ Pride event organized by a new volunteer team within the Air Force focused on LGBTQ+ issues, the newsletter, dated February 2023, shows. The LGBTQ Initiatives Team (LIT) participated in 67 Pride commemorations across 33 Air Force and Space Force installations throughout 2022 and intends to organize more events this year.
“Through their hard work,” the newsletter states, referring to multiple diversity-focused working groups including the LIT, “we are one step closer to building a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible Total Force that values and leverages every member’s unique attributes.”
The LIT is one of seven “Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Groups” chartered to identify “root causes” and determine whether or not these “root causes” detract from DEI in the force, according to the newsletter. Other groups include the Black and African American Employment Strategy Team, the Disability Action Team and the Women’s Initiative Team.
Each all-volunteer team reviews demographic data collected from Air Force and federal-level sources to devise ways to increase ethnic, disability and “gender diversity” in the Air Force, according to the newsletter. Teams then provide recommendations to decision-makers.
In 2022, the LIT created a list of LGBTQ+ celebrations and “affinity groups” across the Air Force, the newsletter states. The LIT also hosted over 100 people at the first Air Force-wide LGBTQ+ event, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.
In 2023, the LIT plans to develop a centralized Pride network in 2023 and create standardized training for Air Force airmen and Space Force guardians to create their own groups, according to the newsletter. It also intends to publish “transgender medical standards.”
The LIT was first established in April 2021, according to a press release. Its plans for next year are the latest steps toward the Air Force’s attested goal of increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion and feelings of acceptance among the ranks.
On June 1, 2022, the Barrier Analysis Working Group hosted a Pride-themed Cross-Cultural Mentoring Panel featuring representatives from the Air Force, businesses and nonprofits, according to a press release.
The Biden administration updated transgender service policies for every branch of the armed services in 2021. Services quickly opened up to transgender members and began distributing guidance and training materials.
For example, the Air Force Academy, which trains officers, rolled out a diversity curriculum in 2021 instructing cadets to avoid gendered language, including words like “mom” and “dad.”
The Air Force did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.