Most participants reported experiencing verbal abuse, either indirect or specific. There were also reports of physical and sexual abuse based on sexual orientation. Many participants claimed that while they had already come out to family and friends in their civilian life, fear of discrimination pushed them back into the closet in their military lives. Leading this double existence can create massive strain, Dr. Shilo explains.
After first presenting the IDF with the statistics in 2006, this year's follow-up revealed that despite the military's now official support of LGB soldiers, there has been very little change in the field harassment and stress levels remain high. "Despite the publicity of the research, there was little change," Dr. Shilo says. The military environment is one of "macho" attitudes and strict hierarchy, he adds. This environment has a negative impact on the LGB experience.
Sending a positive message to LGB soldiers
In the quest to repeal DADT, the American military has much to learn from the IDF's experiences, says Dr. Shilo. The successful repeal of DADT depends not only on a change of policy, but a correction of perception, attitude, and behavior towards openly gay service people. "Most debate on repealing DADT revolves around its predicted impact on military performance and the cohesion of individual units," he says. "But it is imperative to think about the impact on LGB soldiers themselves, and to ensure that they have equal opportunities." Moving forward, American officials should never underestimate the power of education, he counsels.
The IDF offers optional sensitivity training geared tow
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University