This year marks the 50th anniversary of the police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City where protesters staged an uprising against police harassment and persecution of the LGBTQ community.

This uprising marked the beginning of a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ Americans.

Several employers celebrate Pride Month, which occasionally leads to some interesting discussion during my workplace conduct and anti-harassment training.

During my training sessions, I discuss a list of never-ever behaviors that includes conduct in which employees should never engage. On the list of never evers includes discussion of sex — advising employees to never ever discuss their personal sex lives or the sex lives of others.

Sometimes, I am challenged by employees who feel that their organization’s emphasis on “pride” would tend to promote discussion of sex and sex lives.

It doesn’t. And here’s why.

Eighteen years ago when my second child was born, my peers at work celebrated and talked about this exciting event. During this same time period, a male peer adopted a child with his same-sex partner. My peers and I celebrated the adoption with him and talked about this exciting event.

He could not marry his same-sex partner because, at the time, such a marriage was prohibited. We talked about his frustration raising a child with his partner who could not be his husband.

Pride is about celebrating relationships, family and life. This falls within the normal day-to-day conversations that help form workplace relationships and co-worker bonds.

No one should be talking about his or her sex life at work. Those discussions are too personal and inappropriate, and can lead to claims of sexual harassment.

Pride Month promotes normalcy of relationships.

Discussing such things as weekend events, vacations or kid sports should be normalized regardless of whether the relationship is same-sex, different genders or transgender. The gender or gender identification might be different, but the conversation about life events is usually pretty much the same.

Some people have a sincerely held objection to certain relationships based on religious views. Regardless of these views, no employee should disrespect another employee due to that person’s personal lifestyle choice, nor should any employee attempt to impose their religious views on other people.

Just like we might disagree with another person’s lifestyle choice of exercise or diet or politics, we should still be able to respect our co-worker’s right to make his or her lifestyle decisions without feeling oppressed or disrespected at work.

Finally, like with many disenfranchised groups, when an employer steps up to show that community they are respected and valued, employers are more likely to retain these valuable talented resources.

For these reasons, celebrating Pride Month at work ideally isn’t just celebrated by those within the LGBTQ community, but by all their managers and peers in a recognition that every relationship is valued and respected.

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Karen Michael is an attorney with Richmond-based KarenMichael PLC. She can be reached at

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