Meet Congressman Jared Polis, the Colorado Rep. touting the necessity of inclusion within military culture in the wake of last November’s repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by Congress.
Polis, who is gay himself, also happens to sit on the advisory board for Colorado Springs’ Air Force Academy, a high school military preparatory school. He’s now urging the academy’s superintendent to hire openly gay and lesbian chaplains, and to adopt a whatever-it-takes approach to making gay cadets comfortable with coming out at school.
At the top of his list – Allowing gay cadets to bring same-sex dates to school dances.
The Boulder Democrat suggested the academy should consider hiring gay and lesbian chaplains and said cadets should be welcome to bring “the date of their choice” to Air Force Academy balls and other social functions.
“It’s more than tolerance and respect,” Polis said at the Board of Visitors meeting at the academy.
“It’s really being able to, from a military perspective, be stronger through the diversity that we have in our force.”
Polis’ comments came as the board turned its focus on how the new policy will affect the Air Force Academy.
Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, the academy’s superintendent, the academy has “prepared heavily” in how to follow the new law. He said the academy, like other military organizations, is still waiting for the Defense Department’s instructions on how to train and educate military leaders in the new policy.
“We are ready, we just don’t have the green light because the DOD and the Air Force haven’t issued all the data,” he said.
He said he had a “frank discussion” with cadets and academy airmen during a Jan. 27 address in which he emphasized the policy would be implemented with “strict behavioral standards.”
“If people cross that line, on either side, there will be disciplinary consequences to go along with it,” he said.
Excellent! We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out. On one hand, high school is basically a petri dish full of aggressive bacteria vying for the top – hence the omnipresence of bullying. On the other, young people just seem to be over matters of sexuality in a way their parents don’t quite understand.
On a personal note, my college roommate went to the Air Force Academy. A big, hulking football player of a guy. I was one of approximately three out gay students at the school (Which is why I transferred to New Orleans second semester. Adios, Colorado!), but we were fantastic friends, and sexuality was never an issue in our dorm. My experience with Air Force Academy cadets was a positive one, and I’m sure they’ll transition to an even more accepting culture quite easily.
What are your thoughts on gay cadets bringing same-sex dates to military school dances?