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SAN DIEGO -- The locally based Military Acceptance Project (MAP) will be represented today (June 26) at the Pentagon's first-ever LGBT Pride event.
MAP members said they were startled to get an email invitation to attend the event in Washington, D.C., just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon would hold such a celebration.
The email, according to MAP officials, acknowledged MAP’s “critical role in making milestones like this possible” and requested official
attendance of MAP representatives at this historic event.
“I was literally in shock,” said Kristen Kavanaugh, a Naval Academy graduate, Marine Corps veteran and social worker from San Diego. “To have our team’s work recognized as 'critical' by the Department of Defense means the world to me.”
Kavanaugh serves as executive director of the Military Acceptance Project, a non-profit organization that promotes the acceptance of all service members through enlightenment, empowerment and service.
“It’s such an honor to be included,” Kavanaugh said. “I am humbled to share this day alongside military heroes at the Pentagon.”
She and another LGBT service member will represent MAP at the event.
MAP was co-founded by Kavanaugh and other social workers training at the San Diego Academic Center for the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work.
“We are proud that several of our recent military social work alumni and veterans have taken the initiative to educate and promote greater understanding and acceptance of LGBT citizens who are in uniform.” said Paul Maiden, vice dean of the USC School of Social Work.
The Pentagon’s celebration of LGBT Pride Month will take place on Tuesday, June 26th at 1 pm EST/10 am PST. It will feature DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson as keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion titled, "The Value of Open Service and Diversity."
To learn more about the work of the Military Acceptance Project or how to get involved, visit HERE.