Don’t ask, don’t tell and don’t speak to a class of Air Force cadets

Last November, former Air Force Academy instructor Edie Disler asked three gay academy graduates to speak to one of her classes about the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. For that, she was barred from teaching. Disler said she was disciplined to send a strong message that people in uniform can not only not talk about being gay, neither can they talk about not talking about being gay!

Disler invited members of the Blue Alliance, an organization of gay and lesbian graduates, to speak on “Language, Literature and Leadership.” An Academy spokesman acknowledged that cadets complained about the ten-minute talk. But he said Disler was disciplined merely because she had failed to follow the rules and secure approval beforehand to invite the speakers.

“We invite controversial speakers all the time,” he said.

“We don’t shy away from controversial topics or speakers, but we are going to make sure individuals who are coming in are coming in for the right reason at the right time,” said Academy spokesman John Van Winkle, according to the AP.

Disler was an Air Force lieutenant colonel with 25 years of service at the time of the incident in November. She retired in June and said that was planned before she was disciplined…

She said she checked with another lieutenant colonel who designed the course, and that officer approved the appearance [of the Blue Alliance speakers].

But Van Winkle said it was also Disler’s responsibility to check with the department head.

“She did violate policy that did exist at that time and still exists today,” he said.

The Academy wrote in its letter disciplining Disler that, by inviting the members of the Blue Alliance, she risked creating a perception that the academy had taken a position that contradicted the official “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy– and that’s an absurd true fact, of course, because you can’t talk about the policy as a gay because you can’t tell anyone you’re gay. To say nothing of holding a question and answer session!

On a related note, sister site The New Mexico Independent reports:

Government figures released today show that although women make up only 15 percent of the military, they account for more than one-third of the service members kicked out because they’re gay, the L.A. Times reports today. Women make up just over 20 percent of the Air Force, but 61 percent of those expelled from that branch, the story says.

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