Since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, cadets in uniform at Norwich University, the nation’s oldest private military academy, “participated Monday in sessions about handling bullying and harassment as part of the school’s first gay pride week,” the Associated Press reports. The event — the first of its kind since Congress lifted its ban against open service — signals the growing acceptance of gay and lesbian cadets within the nation’s military academies, where some students have formed LGBT support groups and clubs:
In December, a group of students at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., formed a group called Spectrum, which has many of the same goals as the Norwich club. A similar organization with the same name is being formed in New York at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. [...]
“It was definitely a big change, but it happened over such a long period of time for me that it didn’t seem like that big of a deal,” said Coast Guard Academy Senior Chip Hall, 21, of Monterrey, Calif.
The West Point Spectrum, modeled after the Coast Guard organization, is being formed with little fanfare.
“Everyone has been very professional here at the academy,” said West Point Cadet Andrew Fitzsimmons, 19, a sophomore from Algonac, Mich. “It’s been a very positive environment.”
Some Christian groups on campus are uncomfortable with the new organizations, but seem intent on respecting the diversity of their fellow cadets. As one member of Norwich’s Christian Fellowship explained, “We make it clear to them that we use the bible as our guide and that as a result we can’t condone the stuff they do. But the Bible is also equally clear, in fact, even more clear. … Being judgmental about the sin without extending love to the sinner is another form of sin.” Anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council and the Center for Military Readiness — who predicted a mass exodus of Christian servicememrs from the military in the wake of repeal — have a lot to learn from this more accepting and tolerant worldview.