New National Park Service Theme Study Interprets, Commemorates Sites Related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer History

Video of Secretary Jewell announcing the theme study at the Stonewall Inn, May 30, 2014.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and Tim Gill, philanthropist and founder of the Gill Foundation to announce the release of a new National Park Service theme study identifying places and events associated with the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified Americans. The release of the theme study coincides with National Coming Out Day, a commemoration first celebrated in 1988 on the anniversary of the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

“LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History” is the first of its kind study conducted by a national government to chronicle historical places, documents, people and events that shaped the LGBTQ civil rights movement in America. The National Park Service (NPS) coordinated the study with support from the National Park Foundation and funding from the Gill Foundation as part of a broader initiative under the Obama Administration to ensure that the NPS reflects and tells a more complete story of the people and events responsible for building this nation.

“For far too long, the struggles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified Americans have been ignored in the traditional narratives of our nation’s history,” said Secretary Jewell. “This theme study is the first of its kind by any national government to identify this part of our shared history, and it will result in an important step forward in reversing the current underrepresentation of stories and places associated to the LGBTQ community in the complex and diverse story of America.”

The theme study is a pivotal moment for the LGBTQ community as it establishes, for the first time, a framework for inclusion and recognition of places associated with people and events that made LGBTQ history and left a mark on American history. The theme study provides the big picture that will help these important places to be considered for designation as National Historic Landmarks or nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. It will also guide and inform the presentation of LGBTQ history by professors and teachers, and will serve as a reference for the general public.

“In 2016 the National Park Service is marking our centennial anniversary and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act on October 15 with a renewed commitment to share a more complete history of our nation with the next generation of Americans,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Through heritage initiatives like the LGBTQ theme study, the National Park Service is commemorating the inspiring stories of minorities and women who have made significant contributions to our nation’s history and culture.” Secretary Jewell announced plans for the theme study in 2014 at an event outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City alongside National Park Service leadership and Tim Gill.

“Thanks to the generous support of Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation, this important study was possible,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. “This work helps expand the scope of the history preserved within our National Park System and honor an America that represents us all.”

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