July 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
SLDN advises LGBT troops against taking part in DOD survey

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued a statement on Thursday warning LGBT service members about a potential risk if they participate in a Pentagon survey over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN’s executive director, said his organization received numerous requests from LGBT service members seeking guidance on whether they should participate in the survey.

“At this time SLDN cannot recommend that lesbian, gay, or bisexual service members participate in any survey being administered by the Department of Defense, the Pentagon Working Group, or any third-party contractors,” Sarvis said. 

Sarvis said the surveys are designed to protect privacy, but said there isn’t a sufficient guarantee of avoiding a discharge if someone is inadvertently outed in the process. He said LGBT service members who participate should do so in a way that doesn’t identify their sexual orientation. 

The statement says SLDN asked the Pentagon working group for information about the survey, including the survey texts, possible certificates of confidentiality, and whether the Pentagon could guarentee immunity for those inadvertently outed by the surveys. According to SLDN, the Pentagon was unable to satisfy this request.

The survey went out on Wednesday to around 400,000 service members. The results are intended to help inform the Pentagon working group that’s developing a plan for implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. The group’s work is due Dec. 1.

The Blade will have a more complete story on the Pentagon survey shortly. Download a copy of the survey here.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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