Don't ask, don't tell - policy analysis and interpretation
Cleveland, Fred E.
Ohl, Mark Antoni
Eitelberg, Mark J.
Sarbin, Theodore R.
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The Department of Defense issued directives in December of 1993 revising the policy on homosexuals in the military. The policy, dubbed "don't ask, don't tell," makes a distinction between sexual conduct and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is considered a private matter while sexual misconduct is an offense that remains punishable by separation. The new policy also prevents investigations solely for the purpose of determining sexual orientation. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate interpretations and understanding of the new policy by Navy junior officers attending the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), at the time the policy was introduced. The research approach involved two phases: a structured questionnaire distributed to all (approximately 1,000) Navy students followed by focused interviews to probe issues raised in the written survey. The results suggest that Navy students at NPS are generally not familiar with rules under the new policy. Also, a majority of these officers are uncomfortable with perceived changes in policy and tend to interpret the new rules conservatively. The authors conclude that a general lack of understanding concerning the actual changes have contributed to a level of anxiety displayed by most officers. It is recommended that a training plan be developed, with the combined efforts of legal officers and fleet operators, to provide Naval officers with accurate information and guidelines on how to administer the new policy.
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