After “Don't Ask Don't Tell”: Competent Care of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Military Personnel During the DoD Policy Transition

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Abstract

Repeal of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy that excluded openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons from military service (Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111–321, 124 Stat. 3515, 2010) was a defining moment for the nation and cause for hope that open service might become a reality for thousands of LGB service members. But the near-term reality of the DADT repeal may include heightened stressors and risks for LGB military personnel, including continuation of sexual stigma and prejudice and resistance to the policy change, a potential spike in sexual-orientation-based harassment and victimization, difficult decisions about remaining concealed or disclosing sexual orientation, and the potential that military mental health providers will have little recent experience in service delivery to openly LGB clients. In this article, we consider the effects of the DADT policy and the policy repeal on LGB military members. We conclude with several recommendations for psychologists who serve active duty LGB clients and who consult to military commanders and policymakers.

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