Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Even with the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) policy, the U.S. Army has seen increased cases of sexual harassment; sexual assault; and discrimination of gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) service members by other service members. Despite this trend, few studies have explored the experiences of victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault of GLB recruits before, during, and after the repeal of the DADT policy. Using the bystander effect as the theoretical construct, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences and interactions with a sample of 11 drill sergeants (DSs) who witnessed GLB discrimination in order to gain insight on strategies to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination against GLB recruits. Interview data were inductively coded and subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. Key findings indicate that participants perceived a general support for GLB inclusion into the basic combat training environment, and participants were unaware of the high number of discharges of service members from the U.S. Army during the implementation of the DADT policy. Another important finding is that participants were supportive of GLB scenario-based training. Finally, the bystander effect was found to be the main reason participants failed to intervene when instances of discriminatory or abusive behavior was observed. Implications for positive social change can be realized in the U.S. Army through promoting awareness of GLB discrimination, its impact, and how DSs can lead the effort in preventing this sort of behavior against the GLB recruits. A key recommendation is for the U.S. Army to explore implementing scenario-based training for all recruits as part of this effort.