The Small Business Administration is the latest government agency to delete LGBT-related content from its website in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The LGBT content on the SBA website was formerly found at https://www.sba.gov/content/lgbt-outreach and https://www.sba.gov/about-sba-navigation-structure/lgbt-outreach. It wasn’t immediately clear when it was removed. The LGBT content is also missing from a cached version of the webpage dated Jan. 25 found using Google’s search engine.
The changes to the SBA site are consistent with similar changes to the White House website as well as the website for the State Department, which deleted a recent apology from former Secretary of State John Kerry over the 1950s era “lavender scare” firings of gay people in the federal government. Initially, a report on LGBT workplace discrimination was removed from the Labor Department, but that has since been restored.
With regard to the White House website, a White House official said the Obama administration agreed to remove its content before handing over the website to the Trump administration. The official said the new material on the website is forthcoming, but didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on whether LGBT content would be restored.
Terry Sutherland, an SBA spokesperson, offered a similar explanation in response to a Washington Blade inquiry about the missing LGBT content on the SBA website under the Trump administration.
“As you would expect with any new administration coming in, websites throughout the federal government are currently under construction and review,” Sutherland said. “As more policies are developed the websites will be populated with more information.”
The webpage for LGBT outreach previously contained quotes and photos from Obama administration officials, which would be unusual for the Small Business Administration to maintain in the Trump administration.
Pressed on whether the LGBT content would return, Sutherland said “the entire website is under review and construction” and at this time he “cannot tell you what pages will be restored or not.”
Under the Obama administration, the SBA undertook significant efforts to engage with LGBT-owned businesses. In 2012, the SBA signed a memorandum of understanding to work with the the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and in 2015, the SBA and NGLCC jointly launched an LGBT Business Builder campaign, which included day-long training sessions and networking to obtain federal contracts. That program won an award from Harvard University. Last year, the SBA named Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell — two lesbians who own and operate Equator Coffees & Teas in San Rafael, Calif. — as small business person of the year.
Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said he expects restoration of the LGBT material and SBA’s partnerships with LGBT-owned businesses to continue.
“The NGLCC and SBA have a long history creating business opportunities for the LGBT community, starting with the multiyear Strategic Alliance Memorandum we signed in 2012, and we expect to continue being strong partners,” Nelson said. “We look forward to resources and information that benefit LGBT business owners returning to the SBA website after the traditional transition edits are made.”