Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Department of Justice to investigate claims of rampant LGBTQ discrimination at both the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons, the AP reported Friday.
Here's what we know
DOJ Pride, a gay rights group for Justice Department employees, sent a letter to Barr on March 27 asking him to investigate accusations that the department was discriminating against LGBTQ employees. The group said it had surveyed its members in October, and found that only 10 percent thought that "the Department of Justice attracts and retains the best LGBTQ talent" and 43 percent said "the Department of Justice does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression."
It also cited instances of LGBTQ people at the Department of Justice who reported being discriminated against. In one comment that the group said was "representative," a respondent said that "[a]gents attend[ing] the FBI academy that are gay and/or latino are definitely discriminated against and in many cases evaluated more harshly than other agents or dismissed from the academy."
One respondent wrote that "[t]here are many gay agents [at the FBI] that are dismissed because they are not 'bro-y' or masculine enough." Another said that they were "leaving the DOJ in part due to the DOJ's treatment of its LGBTQ employees."
"These statistics and statements point toward a set of issues the Department must address, including morale, recruitment, retention, and fair treatment," DOJ Pride wrote. The group called on Barr to issue an Equal Employment Opportunity statement.
What did Barr say?
Following this letter, Barr decided to take action. In a letter of his own to Jason Lee, the president of DOJ Pride, Barr wrote:
I was troubled by the concerns you raise about low morale and in particular about discrimination against LGBTQ employees. I have shared your letter with the FBI and BOP and have directed them to take appropriate action to investigate and address allegations of discrimination and to prevent it going forward. I hope that DOJ Pride can help in identifying issues when they arise and in working with Department leadership on solutions.
Barr said he realized that "these steps are not a cure-all," but said he thought that they were "important."