A Pentagon document that surfaced this week classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, grouping it with retardation and personality disorder. The document has outraged medical professionals, psychologists, and members of Congress, who disagree with this labeling and its discriminatory undertones. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Psychological Association have both written letters condemning this classification, while nine members of Congress have asked for a full review of the document and policy.
The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which first called attention to this classification, points out that this document was re-certified as “current” in 2003, despite the fact that the APA removed homosexuality from DSM-IV-TR (the definitive guide to mental health classifications) over 30 years ago. Dr. Steven Samuels, a social psychologist who has worked with the military, suggests that this classification is not scientifically derived, but socially and politically motivated. According to CSSMM, he stated that, “to classify homosexuality with mental retardation, impulse control, and substance abuse, shows at best an ignorance of basic psychology and at worse a purposeful intolerance and discriminatory practice that is incompatible with the high values of the military.”
The Pentagon maintains a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with regard to closeted homosexuals and prohibits openly gay women and men from serving at all. Within the last year, 726 military members were discharged under the “don’t ask” policy, signaling the first increase in dismissals since 2001. In response to the recent criticism, a Pentagon spokesman said the document is currently under review.