The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is receiving backlash after a new report highlighted the government organization’s “National Outreach Program for Diversity and Inclusion,” which is a hiring program designed to push the recruitment of individuals with “severe intellectual” disabilities, “psychiatric” disabilities and other disabilities.
Fox News reported on the FAA’s “Diversity and Inclusion” hiring initiative earlier this week; however, the outlet noted that the initiative has been active for a considerable length of time, as it was last updated on March 23, 2022.
The FAA’s website notes that individuals with “targeted or ‘severe’ disabilities” are currently under-represented in the federal government’s workforce.
“Targeted disabilities are those disabilities that the Federal government, as a matter of policy, has identified for special emphasis in recruitment and hiring,” the FAA’s website states. “They include hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism.”
The Cleveland Clinic defines a severe intellectual as a disability that causes an individual to “use single words, phrases and/or gestures to communicate.” The Cleveland Clinic’s definition adds, “People with severe intellectual disability have an average mental age of between 3 and 6 years.”
According to Fox News, the FAA is responsible for the employment of approximately 45,000 in the aviation industry and is supervised by President Joe Biden’s Department of Transportation, which is currently directed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Rep. Jeff Van Drews (R-N.J.), who is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told Fox News, “All I ask is that the FAA hire individuals based on who is most qualified for the position and who will best protect our airspace, ensuring that we are all safe. That is the job of the FAA; it is not their job to be politically correct.”
In addition to lawmakers questioning the FAA’s diversity hiring initiative, social media users, including Tesla CEO and X owner Elon Musk, have publicly criticized the FAA over the past week.
“Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety?” Musk tweeted. “That is actually happening.”
When approached by Fox News regarding the controversial diversity initiative, the FAA explained that it “seeks qualified candidates from as many sources as possible.” The agency also claimed that all of its employees are required to meet “rigorous qualifications.”