Employees at SLAC National Laboratory celebrated the beginning of Pride Month Thursday, June 1, by raising the Progress Pride flag on their Menlo Park campus, calling it a celebration and recognition of work still to be done.
About 60 people attended the event, hosted by SLAC's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG). The ERG is one of several groups at the research facility, including ones for military members, women, underrepresented groups and early career employees.
SLAC employee Jeremy Mock said that he and the other members of the ERG drive the change they want to see in the SLAC community. The ERG offers social events and professional development, and is planning to sponsor people going to conferences to present their work on top of being a community-building experience.
"(Having this community) is very meaningful," Mock said. "As time has gone forward, the community grown ... what started out as a core group of six, seven, eight people has really grown into a community and it's really welcoming."
This was the second year that the employees of SLAC hosted the event. Employees passed out rainbow, transgender pride and Progress Pride flags. Rainbow snacks, stickers and pins were also offered to attendees. Stephen Streiffer, Interim Lab Director of SLAC, attended and voiced his support for the event, crediting the ERG with putting together the celebration.
"I really value the support that (the ERG) provided and their hosting of this activity," Streiffer said. "The lab has a long way to go, as most of the United States does at this point. This is a step in the right direction but we have much work to do in front of us to make sure that we really are inclusive and a safe place."
While the event was a celebration, employees reminded the crowd that there is still work to be done on several fronts. One SLAC employee, Sierra Villareal, who was dressed in the white, pink and blue stripes of the transgender pride flag, issued a call to action over current legislation in the country that bans gender-affirming care, amongst other related care for transgender people.
"There is an active struggle going on right now," Villareal said. "There are multiple states in the United States right now where I actually cannot go for business travel without worrying about getting arrested."
Members of the ERG said that they're currently working to bring gender-neutral bathrooms to campus, put pronouns on badges and have options other than male and female on official forms. Mock said that there has been progress, including reassigning all single-stall restrooms on the campus to be gender-neutral, and summer interns are offered male, female and nonbinary options for their badges.
"To me, Pride Month, this year in particular, is a chance to renew people's efforts in fighting against (bigotry), said Villareal.