The survey sent to 400,000 U.S. service members quizzing them on their thoughts related to serving with (already existing) gay, lesbian and bisexual service members is now available online, and continues to engender interesting questions about how and why the military will decide whether the personal lives of its service members will continue to make them subject to involuntary discharge.Among other questions that are designed to help the military decide whether allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual troops to openly serve are questions about current preparedness; whether individuals are aware that others with whom they currently serve are gay, lesbian or bisexual; and whether knowledge of a current service members’ prohibited sexual orientation affected or affects morale or performance. What it doesn’t ask, however, is whether troops think that any effect on morale or performance was related to the person’s sexual orientation or to a system that punishes people for expressing that orientation.
The survey later asks whether individuals believe that allowing lesbian, gay or bisexual service members to serve openly will make it more or less difficult to “hold service members to the high standards of military personal conduct,” keep from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation and limit disrespectful conduct against service members. It furthermore asks whether people would socialize more or less off-duty if they knew members of the unit were gay, lesbian or bisexual, whether individuals would be less motivated by the open presence of gay, lesbian or bisexual service members and whether troops would be more or less likely to recommend friends and family join the service if DADT is repealed.
The presence of questions about how troops would allow their colleagues’ open sexual orientation affect their personal decisions — from living on base to socializing in informal and formal ways — indicates, at a minimum, that they are trying to gauge the level of personal antipathy among service members towards lesbian, gay and bisexual people. It does not, however, indicate whether those questions are intended to help them interpret the basis of respondents’ remarks about military readiness… or whether those questions will be part of the Pentagon’s decision-making on DADT as a whole.
UPDATE: Servicemembers United, the sole advocacy group representing LGBT service members and veterans that encouraged its members to fill out the survey, blasted its design in a press release this afternoon, calling it “biased and derogatory” and highlighting different methodological failures. In a statement, Alexander Nicholson said:
“Flawed aspects of the survey include the unnecessary use of terms that are known to be inflammatory and bias-inducing in social science research, such as the clinical term ‘homosexual;’ an overwhelming focus on the potential negative aspects of repeal and little or no inclusion of the potential positive aspects of repeal or the negative aspects of the current policy; the repeated and unusual suggestion that a co-worker or leader might need to ‘discuss’ appropriate behavior and conduct with gay and lesbian troops; and more.”
You can read the entire document below.