Air Force Academy now covering up cadet’s concerns about anti-gay climate

The United States Air Force Academy issued a statement this morning claiming that at a recent meeting with the academy’s top brass, gay cadets expressed no concerns about the culture at the Air Force Academy being in any way unwelcoming to gay cadets.

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of what took place at the meeting say that today’s statement from the Air Force Academy does not accurately reflect what transpired, and that a number of concerns were in fact raised by gay cadets with academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson and her top staff.

The academy alleged that gay cadets said they “do not feel like the Air Force Academy culture inhibits them in any way,” and that the academy offers “extensive support” for gay cadets.  In fact, concerns had been raised, even before the meeting, about additional “support” the academy could provide to improve the culture for gay cadets.

The academy’s statement went on to allege that the only worry gay cadets have is that the negative reports in the media about their plight might hurt future recruitment at the academy.

In fact, the sources add that the gay cadets did not express any concerns about the media reports hurting recruitment.

I have asked to speak to two cadets who attended the meeting, and the Air Force Academy says they are considering my request.

Academy calls meeting with gay cadets after AMERICAblog “ex-gay” story

The meeting with gay cadets was called after AMERICAblog broke a story earlier this week about the Air Force Academy having hired an “ex-gay” “hetersexual confidence” coach, with nearly two decades experience “curing homosexuals” and working for religious right anti-gay groups, as the head of the academy’s character and leadership coaching program.

In our initial story we also noted that “while some gay cadets say they are having no problem fitting in, others in recent interviews describe a ‘nightmare’ where ‘extreme homophobes’ are ‘outspoken and proud about it.’  They add that little happens to correct the character and leadership deficiencies of homophobic cadets at the academy.”

In response to concerns raised in that piece, and elsewhere, about the overall culture at the academy being less-than-optimal for many gay cadets, the general running the Air Force Academy, and several of her top staff, met with the academy’s LGBT group, Spectrum, in order to ascertain if there was a problem.

From the Academy’s statement this morning:

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy

Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy

Regarding the allegations saying the Air Force’s Academy not being a welcoming place for LGBQ cadets, The Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, along with the Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, and the Dean of the Faculty, Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, and Dr. Hans Mueh (Brig. Gen, ret.) Athletic Director recently met with Spectrum, the Academy’s affinity group for LGBQ cadets.

Academy falsely denies gay cadets expressed concerns, then blames the victim

Putting aside for a moment the appropriateness of having the boss of the entire company call in the lowest level employees, who are barely out of high school, to meet with her and her top staff, to ask if it’s true that they’re being harassed on the job – it puts them in a horrible position – the academy’s statement has now been refuted by multiple sources who do not wish to go on the record, for fear of their careers, in addition to it not being entirely clear if they can go public with their concerns under Air Force regulations.

(Another problem: Cadets who are not openly gay – at least not openly gay to the command – will be the least likely to attend a “gay” meeting with the top brass, so again, this is an inappropriate and ineffective way of getting to the bottom of whether there are concerns about anti-gay elements in the academy’s culture.)

But here’s the larger problem: When you have what amounts to a conspiracy, going to the top levels of the Air Force Academy, attempting to cover up complaints about the Air Force providing a hostile workplace for a protected class of minority-cadets, relaying your concerns up the chain of command isn’t terribly effective or appropriate when your concern is that the entire chain of command just engaged in a conspiracy to cover up, and undermine, a directive from the Secretary of Defense and the Commander in Chief to welcome gay cadets and ensure that they are treated fairly and equally.

To make matters worse, the academy appears to be engaging in a classic “blame the victim” strategy in order to stifle any potential whistleblowers. The academy claims it wants to hear any concerns that gay cadets have, while at the same time making clear that those cadets will be “harming the academy” if they express their concerns.

Message received.

Academy contradicts explanation as to why hired “ex-gay” “heterosexual confidence” coach

Now a few words about the rest of the academy’s statement issued this morning.

The academy attempts to defend the hiring of “cure the gays” expert Mike Rosebush by claiming that “he was hired for his background in leadership development and analytical skills.”  From this morning’s statement:

[Rosebush] began work at the Center in 2011, after working for two years as an analyst in the Academy’s Plans and Programs office.  He was hired for his background in leadership development and analytical skills.

That assertion contradicts the academy’s earlier statement to Stars & Stripes that they have no records on his hiring process, so they don’t know why he was hired:

[Academy spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal] declined comment on whether Rosebush’s past writings and speeches were reviewed before he was offered a job, saying that the academy does not have records on his hiring process.

So either the academy is lying, or they have found the records on Rosebush’s hiring process and should release them publicly.

US Air Force Academy graduation (credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Mike Kaplan/Released)

US Air Force Academy graduation (credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Mike Kaplan/Released)

But the larger problem now for the academy is that it appears the administration of US Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson has just engaged in a conspiracy to lie to the public, and lie to their superiors at the Pentagon and the White House, in an attempt to squash what amounts to an EEO complaint.

If there were concerns before about the Air Force Academy being a not terribly welcoming place for gay cadets, the academy’s subterfuge this morning appears to have now confirmed our worst fears.

Below is the portion of the academy’s most recent statement dealing with the gay cadet’s concerns:

Regarding the allegations saying the Air Force’s Academy not being a welcoming place for LGBQ cadets, The Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, along with the Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, and the Dean of the Faculty, Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, and Dr. Hans Mueh (Brig. Gen, ret.) Athletic Director recently met with Spectrum, the Academy’s affinity group for LGBQ cadets.

In that forum, the cadets expressed to Academy leaders that they are proud to be in the Air Force and do not feel like the Air Force Academy culture inhibits them in any way.  Rather, they expressed their concerns about the media reports and how those reports may affect the decision of young Americans to attempt to come to the Academy.

One attendee at the forum was Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, an Instructor, Department of English and Fine Arts, and the Officer in Charge of Spectrum.

“During the forum with leadership, the cadets of Spectrum expressed multiple times that the Academy is a safe and validating place to be LGBQ,” Capt. Reinstatler said.  “Several cadets have told me they are frustrated with the articles disparaging USAFA; these articles do not take into account the extensive support our LGBQ cadets have received from Academy leadership or the reality of the Academy’s inclusive environment.”

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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39 Responses to “Air Force Academy now covering up cadet’s concerns about anti-gay climate”

  1. Sorry, but it’s a by-product of being taught to kill people, and then being allowed to kill pretty much anyone moving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Columbia, Pakistan, Syria, etc. Soldiers who can kill you without a reason or consequences, such as those in our military today, will think nothing of raping you, as rape is a crime of power, and they have no sense of your humanity or right to the respect and dignity of all human beings. Rape is often used as a weapon of war by those with no reason not to, with de facto support and encouragement from their superior officers, NCOs and fellows, silence from witnesses, and opportunities to be as depraved as they want to be. Rapists and christohet supremacists serve their own needs first, only, and always, same as any other committers of crimes against humanity.

  2. You are wrong, Stev84. So go do whatever it is that YOU can and prefer to do for these men and women of today and the future who are not prepared for these professional christohet supremacist propagandists, liars and paid-for-being-bigots.

    Robert Luke Antonek is correct in what HE has chosen to do, and how HE has chosen to act. Nothing he asked the creeps at the Academy is distracting or a waste of time in the slightest. It is rational and logical to seek any and all documents related to “reparative therapy” at the Academy.

    I’m surprised at your vehemence in denying these facts, as this entire story, and that bigot “coach’s” entire existence, is about “reparative therapy” and the lies the Academy told to cover up their SUPPORT of this theory and this man’s life work. Either you’re dangerously (to you) naive, or you are trusting our enemies to speak the truth for the very first time.

    They don’t even know what the truth is regarding homosexuality, they refuse to learn, and therefore they can draw only on their own writings and ignorance, all stemming from the best candidate for a double-tap in the anti-gay het supremacist world today, it’s Nicolosi, the biggest source of this “reparative therapy” bullshit.

  3. Lawerence Collins says:

    And from all I hear about Graham, he d be on his knees at a glory hole on Saturday night, then voting to make sure LGBT people have no rights!

  4. karmanot says:

    “There apparently is an ingrained rape culture in the U.S. armed services.” BINGO This years cases number 29,000.

  5. karmanot says:


  6. karmanot says:

    “Shine the light in the deepest darkest, most foul, repugnant places. You’re bound to uncover”—Lyndsey Graham.

  7. Matt Rogers says:

    Certainly transgender people are better protected by Civil Rights Act provisions than LGB people are. I think there’s a good possibility that a transgender person who is harassed or discriminated against on the job would be covered under gender stereotypes and expectations.

    However, gay people have sometimes found recourse under this law as well. For example, suppose a gay male employee is discriminated against in comparison with a similarly situated lesbian employee. This may be covered because courts cannot disfavor a gay plaintiff when considering a complaint on the basis of gender. The courts must disregard the plaintiff’s sexual orientation.

    Suppose a lesbian is harassed partly because she’s a woman and partly because she’s gay. She may have recourse on the grounds that the harassment is partly because of her sex. In one case, a gay man prevailed in a famous ruling that argued, in effect, “The defendants didn’t grab plaintiff’s elbow and poke their finger in his eye. They grabbed his crotch and poked their finger in his anus.” Here, anti-gay harassment was considered to be partly because of sex – even though the plaintiff and the defendants were men.

    You can see how limited this type of recourse is. There’s clearly a need for ENDA, because many LGBT or at least LGB people won’t be in strictly defined circumstances such as these. In the meantime, if you’re harassed or otherwise discriminated against for being LGB, it’s a very good idea to keep a record of the problem – and be sure to include any aspect of it that would be considered sexual harassment or, more generally, due to sex. The courts and the EEO officer cannot disregard your concerns or rule against you solely because you’re LGB.

    Disclaimer: I hasten to add that I’m not an attorney, and time limitations have forced me to rely on my memory more than I would have liked.

  8. dcinsider says:


    (Washington, DC) President Obama met today with low level staffers at several federal agencies and asked them “how do you like working for me.” Every employee told the President that they enjoyed working for him very much. The White House noted that “not one employee raised any complaint about working for the federal government.”

  9. The_Fixer says:

    What’s particularly appalling about the Japan situation is that it is ongoing. I recently saw a report showing that there have been several sexual assaults connected with service members stationed at the many bases in Japan. The most prominent were associated with Okinawa, but it’s happened at nearly all, if not all, of the bases in Japan. The people of Okinawa are regularly protesting the presence of that base due to the sexual assaults perpetrated by the staff there.

    Coupled with the reports of sexual assaults in other areas where the U.S. military is active, and I think we can come to one inescapable conclusion: There apparently is an ingrained rape culture in the U.S. armed services.

    It’s far past time to correct this. What happens to these people when they leave the service? It’s hard to believe that someone who is predisposed to rape and commits rape when in the service is going to magically change their ways when they eventually return stateside.

    This, and the constant reports of other misbehaviors of returning service people should make us think about our screening and training processes for military personnel. There’s a whole lot wrong here that needs to be fixed.

    Maybe we can start by not embracing foreign policy objectives that rely on using the military?

  10. F Young says:

    “Courts have variously ruled that EEO regulations protect LGBT people, or protect against anti-LGBT discrimination, under some circumstances”
    I thought the only direction applied to transgender, which falls under sex..

  11. Lawerence Collins says:

    Blacks, women, now gays! Sounds right in line with the old guard white mans club, military! Shine the light in the deepest darkest, most foul, repugnant places. You’re bound to uncover demonic, soulless zombie, Rethuglican sheeple! Just like that Ok. Fraud, Falin! These bigoted sheeple make me sick!

  12. cole3244 says:

    you are correct, pretty dumb i must say, my bad.

  13. She just did, well not this, she got into the ex-gay thing more.

  14. FLL says:

    They called cadets to testify in front of a lieutenant general and brigadier generals. It’s one thing to try to intimidate kids just out of high school, but quite another to try to intimidate bloggers and news anchors who are more than capable of showing the country what a ham-handed attempt at a coverup this was. John’s post obviously stung; if it didn’t, the Air Force Academy wouldn’t be embarrassing themselves with this laughable exercise. I hope John Aravosis and Rachel Maddow make chopped liver out of their pathetically weak arguments.

  15. Matt Rogers says:

    Since the Air Force Academy is government, I think a Constitutional case may be more helpful than an EEO complaint. The Supreme Court has ruled that government cannot discriminate against gay people without a legally defensible justification, and it’s been difficult to find one.

    Courts have variously ruled that EEO regulations protect LGBT people, or protect against anti-LGBT discrimination, under some circumstances. Still, this area of law is spotty and unpredictable. We really need ENDA, and until it passes, we need an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination as generally as possible.

    On the topic of requesting information on reparative therapy as part of a larger open records request, I think it’s a good idea. What’s the worst thing that could happen? The Academy could respond, honestly or dishonestly, with “no records found” and no harm is done. Granted, the main focus of an open records request should be the hiring and activities of Mr. Rosebush.

  16. Guest says:

    Perhaps you have been criticized for mixing up “do” and “due.” Not so much for your opinions. :-)

  17. Dakotahgeo says:

    Thank you for that clarification and if appropriate, thanks for your service. Kudos.

  18. Dakotahgeo says:

    Don’t tell me that this constant denial doesn’t lead to alcohol and drug abuse either. These blokes have a LOT to live with, to live down, and to hopefully drown… in abuse!

  19. Stev84 says:

    Technically, they may have not have violated any regulations. At least not as they apply to gay people. There has been talk about respect of course, but there aren’t any written anti-discrimination rules that cover LGB service members. Only in the Coast Guard and they were able to do that because they don’t belong to the DoD anymore.

  20. Dakotahgeo says:

    THAT is another area where these over-producing sperm incubators’ caca is going to hit the fan some day real soon! The sexual assaults going on in the military are either going to stop or they can all sit in jail, having been found guilty of sex crimes! We have been way too lenient in this country regarding our military boys’ “sexploits.” One incident in Japan should have gotten our asses kicked out of that country permanently, long ago, or at the very least life sentences on the sexual perverts!

  21. Dakotahgeo says:

    Listen! This is government… this is military! They are no more believable than these jackalopes from OK NG and the TX National Guard! There needs to be a complete overhaul and housecleaning of the top brass in the States that do not obey the Pentagon rules and regulations! The sooner THAT happens, the sooner this mess will go away! If the GIs don’t like the new rules, resign, opt out, or remove yourselves from the military immediately or ASAP! Quite frankly, America is sick and tired of you and no longer supports you! Enough is enough!

  22. Stev84 says:

    Requesting documents about whether such procedures take place implies that they take place. What you are suggesting is just stupid and very distracting. Now they can just correctly say “No, he doesn’t do that” and think that everything is fine.

    There are any number of other reasons to hire him. Him being a fundamentalist Christian or a member of Focus on the Family is enough in such an environment.

    >”What is at question are not his beliefs but his professional
    experience and qualifications as a “coach” and “counselor”,

    Yes, and he doesn’t have to practice reparative therapy at the AFA for those beliefs to become an issue during his work. There are any number of other ways for such extreme homophobia to negatively impact counseling.

  23. Robert Luke Antonek says:

    I agree, that is why I did not suggest it, so why are you suggesting it? I requested via the Freedom of Information Act any documentation requiring such procedures to take place. In all Freedom of Information Act requests you must directly identify the documents you seek. Look, without being inside the Academy we do not know if any discussions of “reparative threapy” were conducted. Perhaps the very reason Dr. Mike Rosebush was hired was to train the counselors under him in the process of “reparative therapy” so they could influence and attempt to change the sexual orientation of cadets. Otherwise what logic exists to hire the country’s foremost practitioner of this process if you do not intend to rely upon his professional skills and experience in his new position? Therefore, I disagree with you about the point being “his extremely homophobic beliefs”. He is allowed to believe whatever he wants, this is America. What is at question are not his beliefs but his professional experience and qualifications as a “coach” and “counselor”, to which “reparative therapy” has been his chief domain and practice for over twenty years. I would never have expected a practitioner of “reparative therapy” to ever be hired in any position of influence over cadets, but here we are. Therefore I would be remiss to not ask directly the pertinent question at hand, which is, what if any documents exist within the USAF Academy concerning “reparative therapy”.

  24. Stev84 says:

    Suggesting that cadets are forced to undergo reparative “therapy” is indeed extremely silly. But that’s not the point and you shouldn’t suggest that it is. The concern is that his extremely homophobic beliefs influence his work in other areas.

  25. pappyvet says:

    Rosebush was hired for his development and analytical skills? I suppose they would hire Himmler for his gardening expertise as well.

  26. cole3244 says:

    as i have stated many times and been criticized for doing so military leaders are not do the respect america always gives them no matter what, and yes i have military experience enough i believe to make that determination.

    history shows us military leaders are years if not decades behind the nations progress in all matters big & small.

  27. Oh I know.

  28. Robert Luke Antonek says:

    spoke to the Executive Officer for US Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen.
    Michelle Johnson the day after this story was broken to clarify my Freedom of
    Information Act Request for any and all documentation concerning the hiring or
    Dr. Mike Rosebush and any forms, directives, or orders that are in the Uniform
    Code of Military Justice or the Code of Conduct that requires self identified
    gay and lesbian Cadets to undergo “reparative therapy”. I have
    yet to hear back and will keep you posted on when I am contacted and what
    documents I am provided. The Executive Officer was clearly dumbfounded at
    my request for documentation that mandates submitting cadets to
    “reparative therapy”, because he knows as we do that none
    exists. This acknowledgement along with the Commander in Chief’s
    directive to dismantle and cease and desist from any and all activity that
    discriminates against gays and lesbians serving in the military defines the
    parameters of this case. I called for the Inspector General to immediately
    begin an investigation into the hiring practices and procedures of the Academy
    and “to hold accountable Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, the Commandant of
    Cadets at the Air Force Academy for his actions that actively and openly oppose
    the rule of law and the instructions from his superiors concerning
    homosexuality in his approving of the hiring as the Chief of Character and
    Leadership Coaching a man who is on record as employing the pseudo-science
    techniques of “reparative therapy” that border on malpractice and
    directly defy and contradict the Federal Policy of dismantling any and all
    policies that discriminate against homosexuals serving in the
    military.” Now I see we need to up the ante and call for the
    immediate suspension of US Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle
    Johnson and her team at the US Air Force Academy for insubordination and
    countermanding the standing orders of their Civilian Superiors. In
    political jargon, they have doubled down because there is more fire where there
    is smoke. The discrimination and insubordination probably goes deeper and
    wider then simply the hiring of Dr. Mike Rosebush, otherwise why not admit the
    wrong, dismiss him, and rectify the mistake. What other personnel were
    given hiring preferences at the US Air Force Academy based upon their religious
    beliefs, or personal relationships and affiliations with Academy
    Leadership? Do they attend the same church? Go to the same bible study? Belong to Focus on the Family? Lets dig deeper and clean up this mess, for it is our tax
    dollars at work and military commanders serve under civilian authority.
    Thankfully the United States Supreme Court has settled the issue of equality
    for all gays and lesbians in federal service, it is time that those military
    commanders acting in insubordination of the law be identified, punished, and
    dismissed for dereliction of duty.

  29. karmanot says:

    There is a great rot and corruption in the military in general. Just think of the 2900 rape cases alone in the past year and it is estimated that statistic represents only 25% of the actual cases.

  30. Hue-Man says:

    Taken from the same Catch-22 playbook as the military sexual assault procedures.

  31. Stev84 says:

    FYI, gay people are not covered under the military’s EO regulations. That part was taken out of the DADT repeal bill at the least minute because they thought it would pass more easily that way. It all plays into people’s extremely naive faith in the “chain of command” (same with sexual assaults), while completely neglecting that the “chain of command” is frequently the source of the problem.

    And yeah, cadets being called to meet with several generals. Not at all intimidating…

  32. kalif says:

    Whether or not I agree on the subject, that was well sourced journalism.

  33. Thom Allen says:

    Good idea, thanks. I’m going to do the same.

  34. tamarz says:

    Classic deny deny deny. I will never understand why many people in administrative positions have such need to hide problems. And they not only hide the problems from the public, they also hide them from themselves. Smart and thoughtful people are open to learning about the faults in their organization so they can make improvements.
    Obviously General Johnson and her henchpeople can’t be labeled “smart and thoughtful.”

  35. StraightGrandmother says:

    I said it before & I’ll say it again, GREAT WORK JOHN ARAVOSIS!

  36. ArthurH says:

    The Air Force Academy’s press release echoes the campaign by Wal-Mart to convince people that its employees like their working conditions and can get promoted. But Wal-Mart has a history of requiring employees to appear in its advertising. Are you going to say “no” if you need what little you are paid to feed the kids? And they in the past required employees to make their kids appear free in Wal-Mart to model clothing in its Sunday ad booklet (you had to be satisfied with the kid’s name and hometown appearing in the ad because that’s all you got).

    Would a gay cadet want to step forward and buck the Academy’s press release? Not unless they wanted to accused of trying to harm the Academy and to terminate their plans for a career as a U.S. military officer. The press release has all the earmarks of putting a beard on the situation. Throw some Nair on it, John!

  37. Whitewitch says:

    I think if you read the comments of Guest (previously I think Holo-something), who claims to be a 15 year graduate of the academy – there there should be no question that the environment is hostile and anti-gay. He was angry, rude, impolite and called me a deviant because of my beliefs.

    And I completely agree that calling in the “kids” to ask if they are being harassed in front of the big boss and their other cadets is totally not a good way to get people to be completely honest in their response. When my boss asks if I like him – of course I say yes. Does that mean it is true – well who can say.

  38. dommyluc says:

    I hope Rachel Maddow rams this up their asses tonight! Rhetorically, of course.

  39. sbrb says:

    Already pinged my Senators & Congressional rep to fire this motherfucker already. Time for everyone else to do so too. Get to it!

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