New website advises about DADT repeal

Members of the Military Acceptance Project, an organization started by graduate students from the USC School of Social Work, launched a website earlier this month to educate service members about the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The site features articles, training materials and other sources of information designed to give information and support to all military members in light of the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, the policy that prohibited lesbian, gay or bisexual service members from, discussing their sexual orientation. The bill to repeal the policy was passed in 2010.

The Military Acceptance Project provides links and information to services that offer help and support LGB service members.

MAP was co-founded by Kristen Kavanaugh, a former Marine Corps captain and graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Kavanaugh, a first-year graduate student working toward a master’s degree in social work, said she got the idea to create the organization after she began her studies at USC in January.

“My social welfare class was given an assignment to advocate for an oppressed or marginalized population,” Kavanaugh said. “The implementation of the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell was on my mind, and I suggested that we advocate for lesbian, gay and bisexual service members affected by the passage of the repeal.”

Jasper Kump, a public relations associate from the MAP, said the organizations’ central mission is to encourage others to be more accepting of all former, current and future service members, especially those who have been marginalized for any reason.

Currently, MAP is focusing solely on issues relating to the LGB community, but will seek to expand the issues they cover in the future.

Kump said the effects of DADT have long been felt by LGB service members. The MAP combines its members’ passions for the military and helping others into one organization that seeks to better understand how we can help the LGB community.

“It is our hope that the website will not only provide information regarding the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, but will also serve as a catalyst to help educate, enlighten, and empower all members of the military to treat each other with understanding, respect, and equality,” Kump said.

Jane Allgood, a clinical associate professor of social work who oversaw the project from its inception, said MAP has already had an immediate impact on the USC community.

“[The MAP] further demonstrates how USC is on the forefront in providing social work services to the military,” Allgood said. “The School of Social Work is the first in the country to have a true focus on military social work, and to have the structure we do for research on the military and their families.”

The reaction to the MAP so far has been positive, according to Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has also received encouraging feedback from both the LGB and the straight communities, as well as both military members and civilians.

Kump said the organization has faced very few challenges in its early stages.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many people are not only supportive but also excited about the work we’re beginning,” Kavanaugh said. “The Department of Defense as well as branches of the military were all interested, and cooperated with us in sourcing information for the site, providing us with training materials, and serving as a contact for anonymous feedback from LGB service members.”

Nick Borrelli, a first-year graduate student in social work who also works with the MAP, said he has seen many people, not just at USC but around southern California, request additional information about DADT’s repeal and its significance for the LGB community.

“I’ve had so many classmates interning at the Department of Veteran Affairs in San Diego asking them to pass on this knowledge,” Borrelli said. “They have clients asking them questions directly related to what we’re working on, and these resources that we have would be amazing for them.”

The MAP hopes to aid LGB service members for many years to come, even after Kavanaugh and her fellow students receive their degrees from USC.

“Our team understands that the project does not end at the close of the semester, but is committed to continuing the project until there is no longer a need for it,” Allgood said.

10 replies
  1. Ned Flaherty
    Ned Flaherty says:

    Alex’s needless worrying all stems from his religious-like belief in 3 obsolete assumptions.

    Firstly, Alex worries — incorrectly — that DADT can’t be repealed because of his notion of a “gay lifestyle choice.”

    That notion was never true, and was discredited when it first arose decades ago.

    There is no such thing as a “gay lifestyle choice” any more than there is such a thing as a “heterosexual lifestyle choice.” Trying to write a usable definition for either one quickly shows that (a) sexual orientation by itself never constitutes a “lifestyle” (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual), and (b) sexual orientations aren’t “choices” that people flip like light switches. Today’s typical new recruits have shown that they already know this.

    Secondly, Alex also worries — again, incorrectly — that DADT can’t be repealed because of his notion that opposite-sex relations are safe but same-sex relations are dangerous.

    That notion was never true, and was discredited when it first arose decades ago.

    When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases via activity among the over-21 crowd in the 21st century, virtually all such relations incur risk, because whenever Person A has sex with Person B, both are also — in effect — having sex with every partner that the other person ever had. This is true for everyone, regardless of past or present sexual orientation(s). But the armed forces Surgeons General already confirmed that: (a) military personnel are safe, (b) the military blood supply is safe, (c) DADT repeal doesn’t hinder deployability, and (d) DADT repeal doesn’t change the prevalence of STDs. The commanders who are leading the DADT repeal classes encourage all personnel with worries such as Alex’s to speak up so that all their unfounded fears can be put to rest for once and for all.

    Thirdly, Alex also worries — again, incorrectly — that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control STD statistics for the civilian world are the same as the statistics for the military world.

    They are not.

    Because of the unique environment of the military, the armed forces Surgeons General reported last November that:
    (1) The personnel, blood supply, deployability, and STD prevalence are already safe now.
    (2) The 65,752 bisexual, lesbian, and gay personnel haven’t and won’t hinder that safety.
    (3) Those safety levels will not change because of DADT repeal.

    Curiously, Alex admits that he is not in the military, and admits that he has no contact with the all-male units about which he is so deeply worried. Alex could close the great gulf between his knowledge and his fears by first reviewing the 747 pages of DoD materials itemized here yesterday, and then reviewing the 214 pages of branch-specific training materials. All these documents are public records and have been available for months.

    Finally, Alex claims — incorrectly — that his own worries trump the attitudes publicly expressed by Marine combat units to their commanders and to the world at large, and claims that whatever Marines promised their commanders “easily went out the window.” Not only are his concerns trumped up and ridiculous, but his accusation that the Corps already reneged upon its public promises insults every Marine who participated in making those commitments.

    Alex should put all his lingering fears on ice, and just mark his calendar for 31 May, when the U.S. Marine Corps is scheduled to announce that DADT repeal training got completed — with no harm to cohesion, morale, readiness, or effectiveness — before each of the other 4 military service branches.

    • Alex
      Alex says:


      I appreciate your whole hearted passion in this issue. The fact that you are so unconfused about a subject at whose very core is often characterized by “confusion” is very revealing.

      OK…where do I begin…

      1. I will say that I am in position that I can say anything I want about military policy. I am also in a position to know much more about the attitudes, beliefs, and culture of the units I am refering to than the average civilian. My opinions are not pulled out of thin air but based on FACTUAL knowledge of the current attitudes that exist in the nation’s ELITE units.

      2. Your Marine Corps statistics are great. They are not elite units, however, not by my metrics. I am also aware of the Commendants 180 and his report to Congress. I am also aware that his report (whether pro DADT repeal or anti DADT repeal) will DIRECTLY effect the rest of his career and will be a MAJOR determining factor if he ever has sights as the CJCOS. All the top Generals are political players…and their opinions about this policy ARE NOT REFLECTIVE of the real military!!! I REPEAT…the opinions of the top generals on this matter ARE NOT REFLECTIVE of the real military. You have to go to about O5 and below to find the true beliefs. In the ELITE units, there is heavy resistance to the DADT repeal.

      3. It’s not a choice? OK…so why do surveys say that 6% of the population has had a gay experience, and then only 1-2% of the population practices gay sex regularly. So they chose one way while they were confused and figuring things out. Then they chose another way once the idea of destroying their family honor kicked in.

      4. I never said the STD’s will increase in the military. I only said that they had a chance to increase, based on CDC data which is FACT. The gay lifestyle IS MORE DANGEROUS. Yes, all sexual contact carries risk, thanks Captain obvious. HOWEVER, based on the CDC…unbiased…OBAMA LED ORGANIZATION…..the catagory of MEN who have sex with MEN are 44 times more likely to have HIV….44 times…

      and in younger age catagories… the increase in HIV rates went up 12% recently. Interesting that in recent years the gay lifestyle is MORE accepted and kids today think it is perfectly safe. This may be a contributing factor to the INCREASE in HIV amongst younger gay men.

      In fact….in this one age segment, it is predicted based on FACT by the CDC that at current rates of increase, by the time this age segment reaches 40, that 40% of all gay men will have HIV….

      Now, I am not a disease expert. But as a matter of common sense, it would seem that the behavior of gay sex, which on average means you will have over 500 partners in a lifetime, is a very risky, a very dangerous, and a very deadly lifestyle decision.

      It’s to the point where you almost want to LAUGH at gay people with AIDS…because its like, how could you be so dumb…did you really think that misusing this orifice would be healthy?

      4. I have heard through the grapevine about the training material. I agree with you on almost all these issues. For the regular military folks, this radical policy shift forced upon the military will be fine.

      You have done NOTHING….NOTHING to refute my main claim, however…because you lack the knowledge to argue about ELITE Special Operations units. These units will be more resistant of the gay lifestyle because it currently is so far away from the culture, that it will take years to change. Not saying it won’t happen. My point is that currently, these units are made up of good ole boys with conservative values. Period. The end.

      BTW…I am not religious, but base my opinions on CDC facts about behavior, biology, and a FIRM belief in Darwinian evolution and survival of the fittest.

      FACT: Gay men are evolutionary FAILURES, are UNFIT for reproduction, and have chosen to take their DNA out of the gene pool. Therefore, based on Darwin, not religion, they have dishonored not just their parents, but the entire genetic line going back millions, even billions of years. The most important role of humanity is the future of humanity. If you fail to care about the future of humanity for the feeling of 5 seconds of narcotic release that you chase with a lifestyle, you have FAILED your duties as a man. This opinion is based on Darwin.

      FACT. Gay men are less than real men who make decisions about the future of humanity, instead of making decisions about how he will engage in wanton narcotic releases that he knows is a misuse of his organs.

  2. chris hogan
    chris hogan says:

    Notice how Alex ignores the CDC’s information about internalized homophobia and lack of social structure contributing to risky behaviors such as not using condoms. This jerk keeps spouting off about how dangerous the “gay lifestyle” is, whatever that is. But does he support the freedom to marry, the one social structure that promotes monogamy and therefore little to no risk? HELL NO he doesn’t. People like Alex don’t want you know that states like Massachusets have the lowest instances of divorce, unwed pregnancies and STDs. While anti-gay states like Mississippi, Alabama and North Caralina have the highest. I’ve seen it even here in little old St Robert, MO, population 2,700. There’s a Baptist church on every street corner, yet we have one of the biggest Red Light Districts per capita, including an Adult Video Bookstore full of mostly married men, sneeking off after work to jerk off, so their wives won’t catch them with their pants down at the computer. Why is it that the most conservative anti-gay “Christians” amoug us also can’t get their act together, hmmmmm??

  3. Reed
    Reed says:

    Alex makes the ridiculous assumption that DADT is repeal is all about “letting in” gay people to the military. It’s not. Gay people have been allowed to join since DADT was signed in 1996… There’s thousands of them in the military right now. They were just banned from talking about it or disclosing their orientation to military comrades or superiors. I know it may throw a lot of your preconceived notions about the so-called “gay lifestyle” in the trash heap of ignorance, but it’s possible to be gay and not act like a feminine hairdresser. Also, the same rules of behavior govern all soldiers, nothing there changed. You still cant sleep around, or be disrespectful, or engage in sloppy PDA, or flirt with superiors, whether they are opposite or same sex. Today’s gay soldiers, and those who join after DADT repeal is implemented, will blend in to the military almost unnoticeably. Finally, I’m not a sailor or airman, but I’m sure they would probably kick your ass if you looked at them and said they had “soft skills”. Flying a joint strike fighter jet is actually a lot more demanding than Alex’s Xbox might make him believe.

    • Alex
      Alex says:


      1. What you said is correct. There are many gay soldiers serving in the military. There are even gay soldiers serving in “combat arms” as opposed to “soft skills”. There are not many gay soldiers serving in elite special operations units. FACT.

      2. I agree that they will blend in almost unnoticeably in the regular forces. But my point wasn’t about the regular Army, the regular Marines, the Air Force slobs, or the Navy folks who run ships and fly planes. My point was about the units where the character trait “machismo” is off the charts and is mostly (90%) filled with very conservative members. The elite units are nothing like the regular military. However, the fact that they are more mature and more intelligent may make it easier for them to adjust to changes, I will concede. However, they are the MOST intelligent, and the MOST socially and politically conservative.

      3. On your last point…ahhh…I think that you think because I said I am not CURRENTLY in any of these units that I just play XBOX 360…in fact, my opinions are extrapolated based on experience and FACT. Concerning sailors and airmen, it depends on the unit. They do have some elite units…and most sailor and airmen elite units are EXTREMELY conservative. However, I will say that airmen are ALWAYS in a position of support on elite missions.

  4. Frank
    Frank says:

    Thanks, Ned, for the facts. “Alex” can’t even spell correctly. It’s no surprise that his beliefs about the “gay lifestyle choice” and military service are so erroneous. At least he’s consistent.

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    To clarify: I think the gay lifestyle choice could gain acceptance into certain conservative units after some time.

    I am just saying that the lifestyle is not currently part of the culture. It’s not like you can just pass a law and BOOM, everyone who was raised with Christian values automatically thinks the choice of gay behavior is perfectly safe, when they have been told otherwise their entire lives.

    If you could showcase some statistics that show the gay lifestyle as being perfectly safe from an STD perspective, you might be able to change some minds. However, I don’t know that any such data exists. In fact, I believe most of the data from unbiased sources all indicates that gay behavior is EXTREMELY HIGH RISK. I believe the US government data on HIV all indicate that Men who have sex with Men is the largest single determinant of whether someone will get HIV in their lifetime. A higher risk factor than say, introvenous drug use. Recent data suggests that at current INCREASING rates of infection, in 20 years, it is predicted that 40% of gay men in certain age segments will be infected with HIV. Again, this is all data from’s website. Totally unbiased government research.

    So the information sharing to service members about gay behavior will be difficult as the data will have to be presented factually. Unless there plans on government wide whitewashing of CDC statistics on gay behavior, something that is already happening in public education.

    Just sayin…stats don’t lie.

    Disclaimer: I am not in the military and have no contact with these units.

  6. Ned Flaherty
    Ned Flaherty says:

    “Alex” is unfamiliar with the current military culture, last year’s DoD survey results, and the DADT repeal law provisions. His assumptions are wrong — on 4 counts.

    Firstly, “Alex” wrote — incorrectly — that “the gay culture is not accepted in the infantry Army, Marines, and in Special Operations.”

    That is untrue.

    The active and reserve armed forces already have 65,752 gay/lesbian/bisexual members today, and the 2.2 million military personnel (97% heterosexual, by the way) already shouted loud and clear that they support DADT repeal. The DoD’s 266-page report (30 November 2010) noted:

    ■ 159,318 responders said that most military personnel and spouses want DADT repealed.
    ■ The 30% who had negative views about repeal were the same 30% who believed that they had never worked near a homosexual/bisexual colleague. But they were wrong.
    ■ 70% of all personnel said that gay/lesbian colleagues would have a “positive, mixed, or no effect” on their unit’s ability to work together.
    ■ 69% said they had already worked in their unit alongside a co-worker they believed was gay/lesbian.
    ■ 92% said their actual experience working with gay/lesbian co-workers in their unit was “very
    good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.”
    ■ 92% of today’s average (20-year-old) recruits, as soon as they get to actually serve alongside fellow soldiers who are gay, are perfectly OK with it.

    And although 23% of Marines threatened to resign over DADT repeal one year ago, today that number is zero. Commandant General James Amos addressed 12,000 Marines in late December, 2010, and on 18 February 2011 he reported that, “everyone said, ‘Sir, we got it. We’re going to do this thing’” and Amos later confirmed that he’s had no indication he will lose any personnel at all. Moreover, across all branches, recruiting and retention goals are being met, with zero resignations.

    ■ DADT Repeal Comprehensive Review & Findings (DoD, 30 November 2010, 431 pages)
    ■ Support Plan for Implementation (DoD, 30 November 2010, 95 pages)
    ■ DADT Repeal Policy (Undersecretary of Defense Clifford Stanley, 28 January 2011, 7 pages)
    ■ Branch-Specific Training Materials (DoD, February/March 2011, 214 pages)

    Secondly, “Alex” also wrote — again, incorrectly — that “it is highly unlikely that gay service members will serve in the nation’s most elite units . . . at the highest levels, no way in hell they are getting in.”

    That also is untrue.

    Bisexual, lesbian, and gay members of the armed forces have always served in all branches, in all units, at all levels, on active duty and ready reserve. They’re already there; they’ve always been there. The only people who still think that bisexuals, lesbians, and gays don’t even exist are the people who are so homophobic that no one confides in them what everyone else already knows.

    Thirdly, “Alex” also wrote — again, incorrectly — that “Legislation will not change the attitudes of these largely good ole boys clubs” because “the selection process is purely subjective and most of the standards are up to the gatekeepers making the selections.”

    Both assumptions are untrue.

    By federal law passed 22 December 2010, and new policies announced 28 January 2011: (1) all armed forces members will be judged solely on merit, fitness, and capability; (2) sexual orientation will never be asked, recorded, or saved; and (3) sexual orientation will never be a factor in recruiting, enlistment, training, assignment, promotion, discharge, retirement, or veteran benefits. Personnel decisions are no longer “purely subjective” or “up to the gatekeepers” and are, in fact, totally objective, and set by worldwide personnel standards. Anyone failing to comply is in violation of a direct order, and subject to administrative or legal action, up to and including discharge.

    Fourth, “Alex” also wrote — again, incorrectly — that accepting gay enlistees “is a HIGH RISK HIV factor that will not be acceptable.”

    That also is untrue.

    Since 1993, the medical community has made significant advances in understanding, treatment, and prevention of HIV. Every Service member is tested for HIV at least every two years, and all Service members are tested before and after deployment, and on the advice of a doctor, and upon request. Positive HIV test results preclude enlistment, and re-classify active duty personnel as non-deployable. In addition, the Services Surgeons General already confirmed that the medical community procedures to prevent the spread of HIV and to secure the blood supply of the Military Services are sufficient, and that a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will have no adverse impact to deployability. For all these reasons, DoD confirmed in November 2010 that repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will cause no significant change in overall HIV prevalence in the military.

    • Alex
      Alex says:


      Quick rebuttel…

      I am referring only to all male war fighting units that typically contain conservative service members. The study you site lumps together war fighters and soft skills. My opinions are not directed at soft skilled units.

      The statistic about Marine Corps going from 23% in an anonymous study to 0% in real life is invalid. When the reality of paying bills set in, the principles easily went out the window. Also your claim says more about military discipline than changing opinion.

      I have no doubt that professionals in all the branches of the Armed Service will follow the law during the selection of members into their units. However, the notion that the openly gay culture will be accepted with open arms at the drop of the hat is really a stretch in units that have not typically accepted this alternative lifestyle is a stretch. The transition in culture will not happen over night.

      As far as HIV…I am talking about the high risk factors that already exist amongst the MSM population according to the CDC. Yes, military testing will eliminate much of the risk. However, the psychological stigma attached to CDC facts will be hard to overcome. The fact remains, gay sex is high risk, even for those who are screened more often. The gay community has extremely high standards for screening and they still have record rates of infection. Increased screening rates does not eliminate the dangers of the high risk behavior.

  7. Alex
    Alex says:

    Interesting initiative. I think that the repeal of DADT will be fine in the Navy, Air Force, and in the regular Army in areas that contain soft-skills.

    However, in the infantry Army, Marines, and in Special Operations, the gay culture is not accepted. Legislation will not change the attitudes of these largely good ole boys clubs.

    In Special Operations, the selection process is purely subjective and most of the standards are up to the gatekeepers making the selections. I doubt DC legislation will have any impact. Sure, in writing they will say they have to accept gay applicants, but the reality is that these units are really just clubs of elite men where you have to fit in to get in. Trust me, the gay lifestyle is not part of the culture.

    Additionally, some Special Operations units may assess the risk in hiring gay applicants since the CDC has published statistics that show gay men are 44 times more likely to have HIV, and that depending on city of origin, gay men could have a 20-30% HIV rate. This is a HIGH RISK factor that will not be acceptable in a process that works to eliminate risk out of candidates for these units. The statistical risk factors are hard to deny when bloodshed and transmission amongst team members is highly probable.

    The fact of the matter is that it is highly unlikely that gay service members will serve in the nation’s most elite units. The lower level Special Operations will accept them…but at the highest levels, no way in hell they are getting in.

    IOW, the tough guys doing all the cool stuff that Call of Duty is based on, will continue to be tough guys. There will never be anything “fabulous” about them.

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