New report finds smooth transition for Gay troops in other countries
 

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posted Friday, May 21, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 21

New report finds smooth transition for Gay troops in other countries
by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic recently submitted a report to Congress showing that U.S. allies have managed to transition smoothly into having Gay and Lesbian soldiers serving openly in the military.

The report, "Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in the U.S. Allies' Armed Forces," is based on extensive research into the experiences of Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom in regards to openly Gay servicemembers' integration into the armed forces.

The report concludes that, in all cases, the successful transitions to Gays and Lesbians serving openly involved no change in barracks housing or bathrooms.

"'Open Service and Our Allies' debunks many myths about the difficulty of transitioning to open service. The report reinforces that ending the military's exclusion of openly Gay servicemembers is not only possible but beneficial to national security," said Suzanne B. Goldberg, professor and director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic.

In addition, the report found military performances and unit cohesion improved, and discrimination and harassment did not significantly increase. The report also showed that educational and training programs on sexual orientation, alongside an openness about relationships of Gay and Lesbian military personnel, eased the transition to Gays serving in most of these countries.

Drawing from its documentation of allies' efforts, the report makes four specific recommendations to ease the U.S. military's move to open service: Educational and training programs that include sexual orientation; strong anti-discrimination policies that provide a clear procedure for handling grievances; sexual harassment policies that apply equally to all servicemembers and focus on the inappropriate act rather than the identity of the offender; and military support of Gay Pride activities and Gay and Lesbian affinity groups within the military.

Columbia Law School's Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic addresses cutting-edge issues in sexuality and gender law through litigation, legislation, public policy analysis, and other forms of advocacy. Clinic students have worked on a wide range of projects, from constitutional litigation to legislative advocacy to immigration cases, to serve both individual and organizational clients in cases involving issues of sexuality and gender law.



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