Imagine being deployed, a place where all you have is each other and the person next to you has no trust in you because of personal/ sexual differences within the command. This is when we have to ask ourselves does gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers negatively impact military readiness because most of these Soldiers have to deal with everyday mental, emotional and psychical battles of victimization and stigmatism placed upon them.
Although this article is focused more on the LGB community in the military I have to give you a brief description on the DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) policy on sexual stigma, sexual orientation for these personals. In 1993 the policy took full effect even though they prohibited all military personnel from harassing or discriminating homosexual or bisexual service members that was in the closet. If the member was openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual then they were band from the military service. They had no choice but to keep from speaking about any homosexual relationships they were having while serving in the military and if they do they will be discharged immediately. (Johnson, 2015)
How does the discrimination of the LGBT community affect the military readiness?
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was an eye opener for all military personal especially for gay and lesbian service members. This new policy let the service member be free and open with their sexual orientation. Even though this bill did not end discrimination for LGBT personal it allowed them to be open and free with their sexuality. In the first Don’t Ask Don’t Tell a nondiscrimination policy was set so that you couldn’t be discriminated because of your sexual orientation. However, When the repeal was signed it did not protect LGBT service members and they did not fall under the military’s Equal Opportunity policy. This policy
is very important because, it protects members from discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, based on color, race, national origin, sex, and religion. This could have impacted many LGBT service members because, if you’re constantly worried about discrimination from other soldiers how can that be good for military readiness or the personal being affected by it. (Kerrigan, 2012)
Suicide amongst the LGB community is higher than other military personal due to the amount of strain put on these types of Soldiers. In an article that I researched they did a study on how many military personal commits suicides. They narrowed it down to the LGB community and they found that sexual minority had signi?cantly less social and emotional support and higher rates of suicidal ideation than heterosexual. (Alfors, JULY 2016) I believe that in my heart this is true because if you are different sometimes you feel left out this feeling alone will impact military readiness. I have a friend who is a part of the LGB community and is also active duty. As I’m writing my paper I couldn’t help but to call and ask for her opinion on this exact situation. I never knew how much stress a person could be under just because they have a different sexual preference. (Wilder H. , 2012)
Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Victimization in the Military incident rates have increased since the DADT Repeal policy. Sexually based crimes are still unknown, but the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network did document that there were over 4,600 incidents of harassment towards the LGB servicemembers. (Burks, 2011) In 2004, in the same article there was multiple cases obtained from 445 LGB military veterans 64% being male and 27% females each person responded to items on having the experiences of victimization in the military. The results that were reported stated that more than half of these personals has experienced some type of verbal, sexual or physical assault. Female personal reported that they experienced more sexual victimization while being in the military than did male personal. (Burks, 2011)
Stigmatism is something that highly effects most Gay, Lesbian or bisexual individuals that serve in the United States Armed forces. There are multiple stigmas that have been formed about these personals over the past years. A stigma is used to refer to a negative mark associated with a circumstance, person or quality. Sexual stigma is usually defined as a no heterosexual identity, community, behavior or relationship. This stigmatism is one of the worst ones that is used in the military due to it creating social roles and expectations for behaviors that are shared by the members of the heterosexual society. Most people all over the world and in the military know that homosexual desires are frowned upon and they are aware of the wicked stereotypes that are constantly placed on these individuals. Even though their personal identities consist of things that most heterosexual military personal would disagree upon, it doesn’t make it right to automatically judge them..
Structural stigma can be formed by the sociopolitical forces or government institution by restricting different opportunities from stigmatized groups. The reason I felt that it was important to mention this type of stigmatism is because the DADT policy that was first put in place allowed gay, lesbian and bisexual Soldiers in the military, but they couldn’t be open and free about their sexual preference. To me sexual stigma is basically formed from structural stigma. By laying down this sexual stigma in society’s it led the military personnel that are heterosexism to feel like they have more power than homosexual personnel. This reason along will affect the military readiness if we all can’t come together as one team than we will not be able to complete missions. Also, when sexual differences become visible, most people will say that heterosexual relationships are natural and normal whereas if there is homosexual behavior, and same-sex relationships then those things would be considered abnormal and unnatural and that’s where we face a lot of problems in the military. Just because someone has a difference preference in life there is no reason to constantly judge or assume how they are.
Enacted Stigma refers to the experience of unfairly treatment within one another. This is important because, in the military you have a lot of leaders who are set in their ways. They have multiple junior sailors who look up to them regardless of their sexual preference, race, gender the leader should be able to lead and treat them fairly. If the leader doesn’t put aside their differences especially when it comes to the LGB community they will not want to work under someone that they feel is not genuine. This goes back to victimization in the military and how most homosexual people paid when they decided to become open to heterosexuals. When people did come in counter with these personnel they were rarely arrested or had any action that took place against them. In the new DADT Repeal it did not protect LGBT service members and they did not fall under the military’s Equal Opportunity policy which means that most of these victims were routinely blamed for having invited their attacks.
The last stigma I would like to mention is Felt stigma. The reason I saved this stigmatism for last is because I felt like it was the most important. It refers to the shame and expectation of discrimination that prevents people from talking about their experiences and stops them from seeking any type of help. This stigma to me is the worst the reason being is because, when people accept the fact that they are being treated unfairly and feel like nothing can be done it leads to a lot of damage that can be created within the person. Mentally, emotionally, psychically this would damage any person not just homosexual personnel in the military. This stigma can result in high suicide rates alone and it would affect all military mission readiness.
In conclusion I think that Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Soldiers in the military negatively impacts military readiness because of all the things they have been through and all the things they have to go through. Mentally, emotionally and physically they must deal with everyday victimization and stigmatism placed upon them. (Johnson, 2015)