US military leaders have warned that laws restricting curriculums and sex-change surgeries for minors could hinder force readiness
US Department of Defense officials have decried new laws in various states that push back against LGBTQ activism – such as bans on sex-change surgeries for children – arguing that the legislation could undermine the readiness of America’s military.
“LGBTQ+ and other diverse communities are under attack just because they are different – hate for hate’s sake,” chief DOD diversity officer Gil Cisneros said on Wednesday at a Pentagon event celebrating Pride Month. “But we must stick together, and we must be prepared to confront any such challenge directly.”
Cisneros was referring to bills passed or proposed in more than a dozen Republican-controlled states on LGBTQ-related issues. Some US states have outlawed giving hormone blockers or sex-change surgeries to minors and prohibited schools from counseling children on gender identity without parental consent. Florida has banned classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation, targeting curriculums that Governor Ron DeSantis has condemned as “indoctrination.”
US Space Force chief of space operations, Lieutenant General DeAnna Burt, argued that such laws could weaken the nation’s military, and “demonstrates a trend that could be dangerous for service members, their families and the readiness of the force as a whole.”
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Alex Wagner, the US Air Force’s top manpower and reserve affairs official, raised similar concerns at an event on Tuesday, saying troops at some bases had to be relocated.
“If servicemembers are thinking and concerned about the experience their kids are having, they’re not going to be focused on their jobs,” Wagner said. “They’re not gonna be focused on their mission.”
Republican lawmakers have criticized the Pentagon for adopting “woke” policies, such as teaching cadets critical race theory and promoting transgender ideology, since President Joe Biden took office in 2021. Conservatives also have argued that the DOD’s diversity and inclusion programs have contributed to recruiting struggles.
Citing a 2020 poll claiming that 20% of Americans ages 18 to 25 identify as LGBTQ, Burt warned that military recruiting efforts could be hurt by improper policies and messaging.
“Those barriers are a threat to our readiness, and they have a direct correlation to the resiliency and well-being of our most important operational advantage: our people,” she said.
The DOD has responded to some of the conservative backlash, drawing the ire of LGBTQ activists. Pressed by US Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, on why military bases were hosting “drag queen story hours” for children, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said such events wouldn’t be allowed on DOD properties. A drag show scheduled for earlier this month at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base was canceled.