A new report released today by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a legal aid group opposed to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy,” reports that discharges based on sexual orientation have reached record levels, and women are often the ones being discharged. According to SLDN’s new report, “Conduct Unbecoming: The 8th Annual Report on ÔDon’t Ask, Don’t Tell'” women are discharged at a rate nearly twice their presence in the military for violation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 2001, the Dept of Defense (DOD) fired 1,250 men and women ‘the highest number since 1987’ for being gay, lesbian or bisexual. However, while women comprise approximately 14% of the total force, 30% of the discharges based on sexual orientation were female. SLDN also reports that the US Air Force discharge rates of women were even higher than average, with 43% of the gay discharges last year being women.
In addition, despite a July 2000 anti-harassment designed by the Pentagon to address aggression based on perceived sexual orientation, the number of such aggressions rose in 2001. According to DOD statistics, 1075 incidents of anti-gay harassment were reported in 2001, up from 871 in 2000, representing an increase of 23%.
SLDN Executive Director C. Dixon Osburn, called the discharge and harassment numbers “an affront to liberty, unity, and military readiness.”