Now that DADT has been repealed (Yet still remains an active policy), you would imagine the United States Armed Forces would be interested in knowing something about the group within it’s ranks that it has remained mum about for decades – the same way, for example, that the military collects data on gender, religion, and race. Data that is used traditionally to allocate resources (i.e. $$$) for health insurance, medical programs, recruiting practices, and more.
So what gives?
Department of Defense actuaries can tell you half of all service members are married. They know 14 percent of enlisted are women and 11.6 percent are Hispanic. They even know 20.2 percent of members are Roman Catholic and less than 1 percent are Jewish. But, they will caution, 19.5 percent claim no religious preference or decline to identify one.
What DoD actuaries won’t be able to tell you — because they won’t know — is how many homosexuals serve in the military. Sexual orientation is to be “a personal and private matter” under new DoD policy guidelines set to prepare for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
Even attempting to collect such data will be banned.
Banned? At first glance, turning a blind eye to matters of sexuality seems like a respectful way to handle the privacy of troops. The new policy will be used in beneficial ways liked preventing commanding officers from creating separate barracks for out gay soldiers. But let’s not forget, that labeling sexuality a personal matter that is off limit to conversation was what got us into DADT in the first place. It’s not enough to know the vague fact that there are gay troops in the military – we need to know how many. Without that information, gays continue to be at risk for workplace discrimination.
It’s hardly a stretch of the imagination to imagine gay and lesbian soldiers being looked over for promotion by high-ranking officers resistant to the repeal of DADT. Without data on sexuality, there will exist no way to track this type of passive discrimination.
Sexual orientation data should be collected, anonymously of course, and this data should be made available to the public. Without it, conservative politicians can continue to legislate against us, and the currently harmful status quo will remain relatively intact.
The military’s new policy – a full out ban on asking soldiers about their sexuality – is different than Don’t Ask Don’t Tell how exactly?