An Interior Department mining agency sought to purge its website and field offices of traditional language that could offend LGBTQ individuals, to comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden. 

Employees of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement are directed to go through all agency messaging and remove language that presumes traditional views on gender or marriage, according to documents obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)

The documents also show that Interior’s mining agency sought new staff and more resources to change signage at regional and field offices throughout the country, to ensure sensitivity to the LGBTQ population. The agency has offices in 36 states.

One document about Biden’s executive order says the effort includes discarding any written assumptions that marriage is between one man and one woman, or “that a person’s gender is always either male or female.”

Biden’s Executive Order 13988, signed on Jan. 20, 2021, his first day in office, is titled “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” 

Section 1 of the president’s executive order says

It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. It is also the policy of my administration to address overlapping forms of discrimination.

Biden’s order goes on to say in Section 2:

The head of each agency shall, as soon as practicable and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.), consider whether to revise, suspend, or rescind such agency actions, or promulgate new agency actions, as necessary to fully implement statutes that prohibit sex discrimination and the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

In 2022, employees with Interior’s mining agency answered a questionnaire to help them spot potentially offensive language. 

Among questions employees of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement were asked: “Does the language of this action use gendered pronouns?” 

The agency flagged the term “manways” a technical term used in mapping, and “man-made,” but recommended no change.  

The questionnaire, or checklist, allows for yes or no responses. It reads: “For any issues you describe in the previous item, how might they affect LGBTQIA+ people differently than other people, or otherwise be inconsistent with the policy in Section 1 of EO 13988?” 

It adds: “His/her’ is inconsistent with the policy established in Section 1 of EO 13988.”

The mining agency needs more staff and resources to replace signage at field offices to ensure that offensive language isn’t posted, according to the documents.  

“While conducting this review process, considerable time has been invested by the [Office of Communications] team members and other personnel,” a follow-up document in October 2022 says. It adds:

Action and Strategies to comply with EO 13988 (to review signage in regional and field offices to change or improve signage for persons who might identify as LGBTQIA+) will require additional personnel and resources, as well as collaboration with other OSMRE administrative office (OA) personnel.

A spokesperson for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by publication time. 

Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly said the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement recommended replacing the words man-made and manway with neutral terms. The agency flagged those terms for consideration but recommended no action.