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EPA to Start Collecting Employee Data on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

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"An important resource for developing workforce engagement strategies."

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the Gold King Mine wastewater spill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Environmental Protection Agency will begin collecting employee data on sexual orientation and gender identity to help LGBT employees "feel included," according to an internal agency email sent by EPA chief of staff Matt Fritz last week.

“A professional, productive and inclusive workplace is essential to our mission of protecting human health and the environment," Fritz told employees in the email, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Environmental Protection Agency building sign, Washington, D.C. (AP) Environmental Protection Agency building in Washington, D.C. (AP)

"When collected, safely stored, and analyzed along with other demographic information, S[exual] O[rientation] G[ender] I[dentity] data serve as an important resource for developing workforce engagement strategies and improving organizational performance," Fritz added.

Fritz said that, while there are legal protections already in place for LGBT employees, statistics suggest that LGBT employees "do not feel included in workplaces and feel compelled to lie about their personal lives at work." He added that collection of such data can help the agency learn how to get more employees engaged at work.

"We all have a sexual orientation and gender identity, and participation in the pilot by a diverse set of people will enable better analyses," Fritz said.

The Free Beacon reported that the agency is collecting employee data on a voluntary basis. The agency will begin doing so with employees based in Midwestern states. All employees will be able to share that information by this winter.

The EPA will start asking employee applicants their sexual orientation and gender identity in 2017.

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