More than 30 years after mental-health experts discredited the classification, a Pentagon document lists homosexuality as a mental disorder. The document, called a Defense Department Instruction, outlines rules for retirement and discharge policies
for service members with physical disabilities, according to The Associated Press, and in a section on defects it lists homosexuality next to mental retardation and personality disorders.
Critics, from medical professionals to members of Congress and the American Psychiatric Association, have condemned the document and labeled it as further evidence that the Pentagon’s policies on gays have failed. They charge that the wording adds to a culture that has already created uncertainty and insecurity around the treatment of homosexual service members, leading to anti-gay harassment, according to the AP.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy M. Martin, said the policy document is under review.
The University of California at Santa Barbara’s Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military discovered the document and pointed to it as further proof that the military deserves failing grades for its treatment of gays.
The Pentagon’s oft-criticized “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members, but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.
“The policy reflects the department’s continued misunderstanding of homosexuality and makes it more difficult for gays and lesbians to access mental-health services,” said Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the Center.
Though Democratic Congressman Marty Meehan slammed the designation and expressed disappointment with the Department of Defense, fellow members of Congress noted that other Pentagon regulations dealing with mental health do not include homosexuality on any lists of psychological disorders.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, nine lawmakers asked for a full review of all documents and policies to ensure they reflect that same standard, the AP reports. MORE