OutServe Survey Findings – The Largest LGBT Troop Survey To-date

OutServe recently conducted an unscientific online survey between April 28th and May 16th that surveyed 224 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) uniformed DoD and Coast Guard personnel. The questions focused on various aspects of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal implementation process and canvassed members on other personal issues relating to their sexuality. This survey constitutes one of the largest ever that has been targeted toward active-duty lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender troops. Respondents included 37% representing the Air Force (the highest of the 5 services), 30% from the Army, 21% from the Navy, 7% from the Marines, and just over 2% from the Coast Guard. Finally, 65% of respondents represented the ranks from E-1-E-9, while 20% came from O-1s and above; the remaining respondents were from warrant officers and cadets.

Some of the highlights from the survey include a whopping 78% of respondents who indicated that they were “out” to at least some in their unit, with 28% saying they came out after the law was changed in December. When asked if they would come out to their unit after repeal has been certified, 28% said they would not tell anyone that does not currently know, and 30% said they were not sure.

In an attempt to assess the conduct and professionalism of the training from leadership, OutServe found that a majority of troops (58%) said that it was “very professional,” “generally professional,” or about “neutral.” When asked whether or not troops would feel comfortable bringing their significant other to military sponsored events, almost 60% of those surveyed said they definitely or likely would.

Another hotly debated topic concerning DADT, is to whom troops would seek advice from in the event of harassment or discrimination. Respondents from the survey, by 56%, said they would either use their chain of command (CoC) or a Commander. The same percentage was noted as well when a similar question asked if the harassment were persistent, would they turn to Military Equal Opportunity office or stay within the CoC/supervisor—a majority clearly favored the latter.

The last question of the survey asked troops what they would tell the Pentagon, if anything, concerning LGBT troops and DADT repeal. Many comments offered high praise for the leadership exhibited by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. Others expressed dismay about not having the same benefits as their heterosexual peers, such as housing and pay. Finally, a few members expressed a strong desire to remind the DoD that few LGBT personnel have HIV/AIDS, as some training briefings conflated the topic too often. Important to note in this finding is that a 2007 report from U.S. Military HIV Research Program demonstrated that the amount of HIV infections has remained the same for the past 17 years, in spite of the fact that LGBTs have been serving alongside their straight counterparts since the existence of the U.S. military.

Overall, the survey provided invaluable insight into the minds of LGBT troops, with a clear majority pleased with the way implementation has moved forward since its repeal in December.

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