Celebrating Pride and the fight for equality
Dear fellow King County employee,
Each June, we celebrate Pride and the fight for equality and equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, their accomplishments, and many contributions to our communities here in King County and around the world. While COVID-19 precautions prevent us from celebrating together in person, the fight for equality remains critical.
This year’s Pride celebrations come at a time when millions of people are standing up to ongoing racism, violence, and killings of black people and other people of color, and the systemic racism that continues to impact the life outcomes for black, indigenous, and people of color. It is important to remember that Pride began as a protest against discrimination and police violence, in the form of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City in 1969. Trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were at the forefront of these protests. Fifty-one years later, trans people and the entire LGBTQ+ community are standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Many LGBTQ+ Americans continue to experience discrimination and fear today, and this is amplified for many LGBTQ+ people of color. Just two weeks ago, the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that would remove anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in health care and health insurance. Despite this move, and others like it by this administration, there are still glimmers of hope. Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that job discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees is illegal. We’ve led the way by providing those protections here in King County and in Washington state for years – now, the court’s ruling lets every community work towards that same security.
At King County, we believe in a supportive, inclusive, welcoming community, and we are working to make it so. This year, we expanded our health plans’ coverage for transgender employees and their covered family members. King County has covered gender transition surgery and hormone replacement since 2015, but starting in 2020, we now cover additional gender-affirming procedures and treatments to comply fully with World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) standards, including procedures most insurers exclude. King County was the first public sector employer in Washington to cover these expanded services.
This is an important step in our efforts to build a truly welcoming and inclusive workplace, and an example of living our values and True North.
Today I raised the Progress Pride Flag over the Administration Building to celebrate Pride. The Progress Pride Flag adds black and brown stripes to the rainbow, as well as the colors of the trans flag, to ensure that LGBTQ+ people of color and trans people are clearly represented in King County’s celebration of Pride. Just as the original six-color Pride flag served as a symbol of hope, strength, and unity in the depths of the HIV/AIDS crisis more than three decades ago, the Progress Pride flag can do the same now as we confront the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. You can watch a short video of the flag raising here.
The fight for equality and equal rights continues, and I am proud to lead a County and a workforce that stands for the rights of all people.
King County Executive