National Park Service Studies Historic LGBTQ Sites For Possible Recognition

This is another step toward making the national park system more inclusive.

WASHINGTON ― The National Park Service released a new study on Tuesday that surveys historic sites in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights for potential preservation and protections.

The study identifies the locations and events most important to LGBTQ history, a first step to potentially recognizing them for listing in the National Historic Register or designation as a monument. The study was released on National Coming Out Day, which itself marks the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

The National Park Foundation put together a theme study on LGBTQ history in America for the park service, with funding from the Gill Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit focused on LGBT equity. It includes a detailed history of locations that have been important to the LGBTQ movement, such as private residences, hotels, bars, government agencies, hospitals, parks and community centers. 

“For far too long, the struggles of the LGBT community have been ignored,” said Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell in a call with reporters Tuesday. She said the study is part of the effort to reverse the “under-representation of stories and places associated with LGBT communities in the complicated and diverse history of America.”

The Obama administration has sought to diversify the sites in the national park system. In June, Obama named a national monument at New York City’s Stonewall Inn, the site of a June 1969 rebellion against the criminalization of LGBT Americans. The administration has also added eight sites marking LGBT history to the National Register of Historic Places.

The administration has undertaken four of these “theme studies” for the National Park Service; others have looked at the history of women, Latinos, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. (Earlier studies examined Native and African American history sites.)

Jewell noted that the National Park Service recently celebrated its centennial, and the study and others like it are seeking to shape the next 100 years of the service. She said she hopes that story will include “the good and the bad, the heartbreaking and inspiring,” but will someday be able to tell “the full story of America.”

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