Another Trump administration department has been quietly erasing LGBT resources
The US Small Business Administration has quietly erased resources on LGBT issues since the Trump administration came to power, it has been alleged.
Two Democratic lawmakers, Representatives Nydia Velázquez and Yvette D. Clarke, are challenging the removal of content from the SBA website aimed at helping LGBT business owners.
The pages were among a swathe of content pulled down days after Trump came into office. At the time officials claimed that guidance was simply being re-written, but while other pages targeted at women and ethnic minorities have been restored, the LGBT outreach guidance is still missing more than a year later.
Velázquez and Clarke penned a letter to the official Trump put in charge of the department, billionaire wrestling magnate Linda McMahon, to register suspicions about the issue.
They wrote: “As Members of the House Committee on Small Business, we are writing to inquire about a disconcerting change made to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) website.
“As first reported in January 2017, following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the SBA removed its Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Outreach page.
“As you may recall, Democratic Committee staff discussed this issue with SBA staff in August of 2017. At that time, Committee staff were assured by the agency that the website was under construction with plans to reactivate the webpage in the near future.
“It has now been over a year since these resources were taken down. Other pages that were also under construction are already up and running.
“This is deeply troubling and renews our concern that this page’s removal may have been politically or ideologically motivated, rather than simply administrative.”
The pair added: “As you may know, the nation’s nearly 28 million small businesses, only 964 are certified LGBT Business Enterprises, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). Despite their low numbers, these firms contribute over $1.1 billion to the U.S. economy and realize an average of $2.5 million in revenue each year – almost triple that of other small firms.
“When considering all 1.4 million LGBT businesses, their offerings are even more staggering with nearly $2 trillion in economic contributions. While most start-ups generally close before their fourth year, the LGBT small entities have been in business an average of 12 years. Data like this strongly suggests LGBT businesses are a critical segment of the nation’s small business community and a powerful force for the economy.”
The pair demanded copies of correspondence with the White House related to the guidance, and asked the agency to outline any continuing work “to engage with LGBT businesses.”
Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce said: “The $1.7 trillion dollar economic impact of the nation’s estimated 1.4 million LGBT businesses on the GDP knows no political ideology.
“The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce hopes to see the resources and information that benefit job creating, revenue-generating LGBT business owners return to the SBA website soon.
“Our economy only works if everyone is represented and included, and so we expect the SBA of the current administration to embrace what the private sector and many public sector leaders have known for decades: diversity and inclusion are good for business.”
It’s far from the first time the Trump administration has been accused of censoring LGBT resources.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled information relating to LGBT homelessness from its website, and dropped involvement in projects relating to LGBT housing discrimination and homelessness.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department removed references to LGBTQ youth from an annual initiative for sex trafficking victims and attempted to block questions about sexuality and gender identity in the census,
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Right Wing Watch, a website run by progressive group People for the American Way, recently filed a suit in a DC court, seeking to secure the release of documents related to the decisions.
The suit says: “People For the American Way is [seeking] judicial action enjoining the agencies from continuing to withhold agency records and ordering the production of agency records improperly withheld.
“The agencies should be ordered to release all records relating to or consisting of decisions or directives to remove references to ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning’ individuals from agency materials concerning efforts to combat problems of homelessness, discrimination, and sex trafficking.”
The issue has also reached the White House.
Presidential Proclamations for Pride Month and commemorations of Harvey Milk Day and the Transgender Day of Remembrance abruptly ceased when Trump took office, and the White House website purged of LGBT content.