NCTE fully supports the repeal of the deeply flawed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy used to discharge gay, lesbian and bisexual people from the US military. We stand in solidarity with those who want to serve openly, without fear that a revelation of their sexual orientation will end their careers. We recognize, too, that military service is an important path for some to obtain education, jobs, housing and other important benefits.
While DADT is specifically focused on sexual orientation, not on gender identity, it very much impacts transgender service members. Differences in gender expression have been assumed by some to signify a lesbian or gay sexual orientation and so have triggered investigations and discharges. There are many active duty service members who identify as transgender; however, contrary to modern medical understanding, the military continues to wrongly consider gender identity as a mental illness that disqualifies people from entering or serving.
The movement to repeal DADT and the work to pass federal employment protections through the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) share a common root—a person’s right to pursue the career path they choose. One of the freedoms Americans cherish is the right of individuals to determine the course of their own futures. Whether that path is military service or another way of earning a living, none of us should be curtailed from pursuing our dreams and goals because of the prejudice of individuals or institutions.
It is time to remove the barriers to full and open employment for all LGBT people in both the military and civilian sectors.