Communicating openly and honestly Creating an awesome work environment By Susie McCormick June 19, 2024

Nelnet Takes a Closer Look at Pride Month

Everyone knows June is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month (often shortened to Pride Month). Most of us associate it with parades, festivals, and protests. But do you know how Pride Month got started, why it takes place in June—and why Nelnet cares about it?

The History of Pride Month

The Stonewall riots was a series of riots for gay liberation that occurred over several days beginning on June 28, 1969. In the early morning hours of that day, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Customers of the Stonewall Inn and other area lesbian and gay bars, and other activists fought back when police used violence. Protests continued for several nights, sparking the organization of activist groups that demanded homosexuality be decriminalized.

The first gay pride marches were more like protests than celebrations and took place on the first anniversary in New York as well as San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in 2019, the New York City Police Commissioner apologized for the actions of officers in 1969.

In June 1999, President Bill Clinton declared the anniversary of Stonewall every June in America as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. President Barack Obama expanded what is now known as Pride Month in 2011 to include the entire LGBTQIA+ community.

Why We Are Better Together at Nelnet

At Nelnet, creating an awesome work environment is an important core value that unites us, but it isn’t always easy. Our associates are individuals with different ideas, opinions, backgrounds, beliefs, and upbringings. When it comes to issues of gender and identity, those differences can sometimes be divisive.

Nelnet’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative, Better Together, provides opportunities for all associates and helps them develop cultural competence in all areas of business and personal interactions. One component of Better Together is Nelnet’s associate resource groups (ARGs). These 10 ARGs offer a safe space for various groups of associates with shared interests, backgrounds, or experiences to build a sense of community/belonging. ARGs also help educate other associates and create a forum for open discussion; what we all want and deserve is to feel accepted and respected where we work.

Celebrating our differences means also celebrating the movements that protect our human rights and allow us to feel safe, respected, and accepted for our differences. That’s why celebrating events such as Pride Month, Juneteenth, Women’s History Month, Veterans Day, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Universal Human Rights Month, and so many more are important at Nelnet.

What Is Prism?

Prism, Nelnet’s ARG for LGBTQIA+ associates and allies, was designed to create a community for these associates to thrive via activities and networking and to provide educational opportunities. The goals of this group are:

  • To create a sense of belonging and support for intersectional identities within Nelnet’s LGBTQIA+ community.
  • To host social and education events for interested Nelnet associates, group members, and allies.
  • To advance Better Together, ensuring associates can succeed to their utmost potential and experience acceptance regardless of their identity or background.

In addition to their regular job responsibilities, members of the Prism ARG organize optional educational and social events twice quarterly and have a Microsoft Teams site for ongoing community conversations. The ARG welcomes all interested associates to participate.

To assist with educating other associates, Prism creates messaging about Pride Month and other topics that are important to its members to be shared with Nelnet associates throughout the year. Prism also collaborates with other ARGs in activities and events, and participates in Empower Hour—small group conversations that bring associates together to discuss topics that impact us on a personal and professional level. These open, honest conversations help us all gain new perspective and reveal our many shared human experiences despite our differences. It’s all part of creating an awesome work environment by putting us on a path to better understanding each other.


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Susie McCormick

Senior Corporate Communications Writer