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American Public Transportation Association

 LGBT Initiative

The APTA Diversity Council approved the following workplan at its May 2015 meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.  

Path Towards Progress

  1. Create a Task Force with combined membership primarily from the HR and Diversity Committees to address the issue.
  2. Develop criteria, based on the HRC Equality Index, for members to use as a guide to implement inclusive policies and to score themselves.
  3. Modify the industry Diversity Plan to better highlight LGBT inclusion, contributions, and needs.
  4. Research existing industry policies and see who/how members are being inclusive now. Create best practices from this benchmark that we will be able to measure against in the future.
  5. Have the Chair/President of APTA acknowledge LGBT contributions to industry at major conferences.
  6. Direct APTA to develop research on the LGBT community and it’s interactions with public transportation – similar to the Millennials & Mobility Report of 2013.

LGBT Inclusion Strategy


Like most parts of American industry, the Public Transportation industry has many LGBT Americans working at all levels and providing essential services to the communities we serve every day. From the highest ranks of leadership to the most junior individuals, LGBT professionals have a long history of serving in Public Transportation. Unfortunately, many of them have had to do so while leading a closeted professional life, usually out of fear that they would face discrimination in the form of denied promotions, lack of inclusion in key decision making, or worse, termination, just for openly being themselves.

As a major pillar in our country’s growing infrastructure, now is the time for APTA and our industry to make a concerted effort to let our LGBT professionals know that their contribution is recognized and that our industry is one where it is safe and encouraging to be yourself, without fear of degradation or termination. As we continue to build our workforce for the 21st century and beyond, the inclusion of all employees without regard to any discriminable trait, will be a key to attracting and retaining the highest quality workers, both LGBT and non-LGBT. See Addendum 1 for specific recommendations that the Diversity Council can recommend to the Board, to promote inclusion.

Recent Polling

The pace of inclusion of LGBT Americans in most of American industry has increased in recent years. The business sector has led much of the early change, as they sought both to attract the best and brightest employees as well as to tap into the emerging market potential that LGBT citizens provide. This movement mirrors public opinion and recent events have led to rapid changes. For example, a new McClathy-Marist poll (Aug 4-7, 2014) shows that 54% of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage. Further, a recent National Journal Congressional Connection/United Technologies Poll, shows that 65% of Americans support laws that protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination.

Legal & Regulatory Change

There also have been changes in Federal laws, including those regarding the recognition of same-sex marriages and the President's recent Executive Order requiring that Federal Government contractors include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as protected categories for non-discrimination in their workplace policies. Additionally, the lifting of the ban on LGBT individuals serving openly in the U.S. military has further accelerated the progression toward full equality for LGBT citizens. While barriers to full workplace inclusion persist, the tide has turned and Americans of all orientations reward industries that participate in these popular changes.

Implementation Strategies

Since 2002, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a major LGBT advocacy organization, has provided suggestions that can help organizations respond to this changing environment. They refer to this as their Equality Index, and companies and organizations are scored based upon the levels of inclusion they espouse in their company or industry. More information regarding the Index can be found here:

Association Industry

The American Planning Association has developed a strong network for LGBT planners and their allies. The Gays & Lesbians in Planning (GALIP) Division of APA is a forum for the exchange of ideas and information of interest to gays, lesbians, and friends in the planning profession.
GALIP addresses planning topics and issues that relate to the gay and lesbian community by providing a forum for exchanging ideas and information. The division provides a professional network for planners who are division members and a mechanism that allows friends of the division and the gay and lesbian community to support GALIP's mission.
GALIP was created as a formal APA division in 1998 at the APA National Planning Conference in Boston. We've been an informal network since 1992 when GALIP met for the first time at the national conference in Washington, D.C.

Addendum 1: Workplace Strategies

Since 2002, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a major LGBT advocacy organization, has provided suggestions that can help organizations respond to this changing environment. They refer to this as their Equality Index, and companies and organizations are scored based upon the levels of inclusion they espouse in their company or industry. More information regarding the Index can be found here:

The list below, taken from HRC’s website, includes actions that can be taken by APTA as an organizational entity, and best practices the APTA membership can utilize as part of their individual corporate strategies:

  1. Equal employment opportunity policy revisions to specifically include:
    1. Sexual orientation
    2. Gender identity or expression
  2. Employment benefit revisions to specifically include:
    1. Equivalent spousal and partner benefits
    2. Equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care
  3. Organizational LGBT competency
    1. Competency training, resources or accountability measures
      Businesses must demonstrate a firm-wide, sustained and accountable commitment to diversity and cultural competency, including at least three of the following elements:
      • New hire training clearly states that the nondiscrimination policy includes gender identity and sexual orientation and provides definitions or scenarios illustrating the policy for each
      • Supervisors undergo training that includes gender identity and sexual orientation as discrete topics (may be part of a broader training), and provides definitions or scenarios illustrating the policy for each
      • Integration of sexual orientation and gender identity in professional development, skills-based or other leadership training that includes elements of diversity and/or cultural competency
      • Gender transition guidelines with supportive restroom, dress code and documentation guidance
      • Anonymous employee engagement or climate surveys conducted on an annual or biennial basis allow employees the option to identify as LGBT
      • Data collection forms that include employee race, ethnicity, gender, military and disability status — typically recorded as part of employee records — include optional questions on sexual orientation and gender identity
      • Senior management/executive performance measures include LGBT diversity metrics
    2. Employee Group –OR– Diversity Council
  4. Public Engagement
    Businesses demonstrate ongoing LGBT-specific engagement that extends across the firm, including at least three of the following:
    • LGBT employee recruitment efforts with demonstrated reach of LGBT applicants (required documentation may include a short summary of the event or an estimation of the number of candidates reached)
    • Supplier diversity program with demonstrated effort to include certified LGBT suppliers
    • Marketing or advertising to LGBT consumers (e.g.: advertising with LGBT content, advertising in LGBT media or sponsoring LGBT organizations and events)
    • Philanthropic support of at least one LGBT organization or event (e.g.: financial, in kind or pro bono support)
    • Demonstrated public support for LGBT equality under the law through local, state or federal legislation or initiatives

Addendum 2: Glossary of Terms (

Many Americans refrain from talking about sexual orientation and gender expression identity because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. This glossary helps define commonly used words and meanings to help make conversations easier and more comfortable.
Ally | A person who supports and honors the diversity of sexual orientation, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic remarks and behaviors and explores and understands these forms of bias within him- or herself. Also known as a straight supporter.
Bisexual | A person emotionally, romantically, sexually and relationally attracted to more than one sex and/or gender, though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.
Coming Out | The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates his or her sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others.
Gay | A word describing a man or a woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually and relationally attracted to members of the same sex.
Gender Expression | External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through masculine, feminine or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.
Gender Identity | One’s personal sense of their gender. For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own sense of gender identity do not match.
Homophobia | The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who love and are sexually attracted to members of the same sex.
Internalized Homophobia | Self-identification of societal stereotypes by an LGBT person, causing them to dislike and resent their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lesbian | A woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually and relationally attracted to other women.
LGBT | An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”
Living Openly | A state in which LGBT people are comfortably out about their sexual orientation or gender identity – where and when it feels appropriate to them.
Outing | Exposing someone’s sexual orientation as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to others, without their permission; in essence “outing” them from the closet. Outing someone can have serious employment/economic/safety/religious repercussions in some situations.
Queer | Often used interchangeably with “LGBT.” Be mindful that the term may have negative or derogatory connotations for some people; however, many younger people are comfortable using it.
Same-Gender Loving | A term some prefer to use instead of “lesbian” or “gay” to express attraction to and love of people of the same gender.
Sexual Orientation | An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic, sexual and relational attraction to another person; may be a same-sex orientation, opposite-sex orientation or a bisexual orientation.
Sexual Preference | What a person likes or prefers to do sexually; a conscious recognition or choice not to be confused with sexual orientation.
Transgender | A term describing a broad range of people who experience and/or express their gender differently from what most people expect. It is an umbrella term that includes people who are transsexual, cross-dressers or otherwise gender non-conforming.
Transphobia | The fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, people whose gender identity or gender expression do not conform to cultural gender norms.
Transsexual | A medical term describing people whose gender and sex do not line up, and who often seek medical treatment to bring their body and gender identity into alignment. Avoid using this term unless an individual self-identifies as transsexual.



 Task Force Co-Chairs


J. Barry Barker

Celia Kupersmith

Paul Larrousse


 Staff Advisors


Darnell Grisby
phone (202) 496-4887


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