By Vannessa L. JoseyJune 25, 2018
The number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender in the military grows every day. According to the 2016 Rand Corporation study, there is a small percentage of the 1.3 million active duty, guard and reserve service members in the ranks. As the military continues to change, the numbers of openly LGBT personnel are more prevalent.
Dr. Stephen Gresham, staff psychologist at Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Clinic, Associate Director of Psychology Training, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Special Emphasis Program Manager and Transgender Veteran Liaison served as the guest speaker for LGBT Pride Month Workshop held June 20 in the Lord Community Center Natick Soldier Systems Center.
Natick employees were also a part of the presentation to show how to affect change.
"The purpose of this workshop was to show that LGBT military members are relevant, and endeavor to do the same as all other members of the service," said Gresham. "We are different just like everyone else. But we have value and we are just as capable of doing the job no matter what our sexual preference is."
Gresham, spoke on the importance of communication.
Gresham said how we communicate shows how we choose to include people of diversity or not.
The hour long workshop was an interactive observance to encourage the audience members to ask questions and share perspective.
Teri Garnett, USAG Natick Equal Opportunity Advisor, said "This observance was important on the topic of diversity, so I wanted to do something more diverse to get others to be more aware of the intricacies of the LGBT community."
Before the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in 2010, conversations and observances were unheard of. When fully implemented in 2011, LGB military members were officially able to serve freely regardless of sexual orientation. So many more changes have since come in to effect.
There was a change in language, for example, in 2014 related to sexual orientation for military members on the Department of Defense Human Goals Charter. In 2015 the DoD continued its ongoing commitment to change and communication by updating the Military Equal Opportunity program protecting LGBT Service Members against discrimination.
"Taking the time to have these observances are important," said Gresham. "In order to affect change, we must communicate. We must talk to one another and be open to our differences."