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Park Service Bans Uniformed Rangers From Participating in Pride

E&E News, NPS Deputy Director Frank Lands said the National Park Service had received “an increasing amount of requests from employees asking to participate in uniform in a variety of events and activities, including events not organized by the NPS, which potentially conflict with our uniform policy.”NPS internal memos and documents reveal that the agency is seeking to enforce existing guidelines that prohibit employees from participating, in uniform, in any events that “could be construed as agency support for a particular issue, position, or political party.”Additionally, the current guidelines prohibit all ornaments — rainbow-colored pins, ribbons, or buttons, for example — except the NPS-issued badge, name bar, American flag pin, and collar insignia, from appearing on ranger uniforms. The NPS, which oversees the country’s various national parks and monuments, marks a departure from how the agency has enforced the policy, especially with respect to LGBTQ Pride, which critics of this latest interpretation claim is a celebration of identity and not a political cause or issue, as conservatives typically claim.In addition to Lands’ memo clarifying existing policy, the NPS also circulated a follow-up question-and-answer document and a subsequent email to staff in order to ensure compliance.In that Q&A document, the NPS answered the question: “Isn’t a Pride event more related to identity than a political issue or cause?”“When analyzing First Amendment concerns, the courts do not make a distinction between events which celebrate or support an ‘identity’ and events which advocate for a ’cause,'” the document reads.

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