Women and LGBT in the Military

Women in MilitaryIt’s been known that minorities such as women and the LGBT community have not always been welcomed with open arms into the military. In recent history, there has been a stigma surrounding these groups joining the military and fighting for the United States.  According to The Atlantic, women were not allowed to “serve in all front-line combat roles for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command” until just two years ago.  And the LGBT community had their own obstacles, first to be allowed to serve in the military, and then the creation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) from 1993-2011, which created controversy and hardship for those affected.

However, it seems as though things are looking up for these two groups serving in the military. Below are two examples of how dignity and respect are portrayed by government officials and outstanding military women that are breaking barriers for our minorities.

Women in the Military

In the past two years, women have been making history and breaking glass ceilings in the military special forces. According to Defense One, “the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment has become the first special operations unit to have a woman meet the standards of its selection course.”

In fact, not one, but two women graduated from Army Ranger school in December 2016. This is extremely significant because Army Ranger school is the most grueling, both mentally and physically, training course in the Army. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Defense One’s Council on Foreign Relations, explains Ranger school is an “intense combat leadership course through swamps and mountains.”  

This achievement is also momentous because it is the first time a woman “earned a spot in the special operations forces.”  Although not every job in the military is opened to women yet, women have been making a difference in the forces for years. Lemmon explained that  “women soldiers joined Rangers on night raids, and searched and questioned Afghan women during raids to keep the women away from the combat operation then happening in their home.”

Although the process of merging women into the military and recently the special operation forces has been a long one, Lemmon said “women soldiers have proved their value to the mission and won acceptance as teammates as time went on.”

General James Mattis Testimony

Another example of how a person or persons has shown dignity and respect in regards to integrating women and LGBT in the military is General James Mattis’s testimony at his confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary. Senator Elizabeth Gilliland asked him whether he believed LGBT people “undermined the military’s lethality” and Mattis responded by saying he wasn’t “concerned about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with.” Mattis continued by saying “my concern is the readiness of the force to fight and make certain it is the top of the game. When we go up against the enemy, the criteria that everything that we do in the military, up to that point, when we put the young men and women across the line of departure, is they are at the most lethal stance.”

This surprised many, including Senator Gilliland and Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, who was elated to have heard Mattis’s answer. “When General Mattis agreed that women and LGBT troops can contribute to the military’s lethality, he was supporting the long-standing argument, backed up by a solid consensus in the research as well as the experiences of foreign militaries, that inclusive policy promotes readiness,” Belkin stated.

It’s encouraging to hear General Mattis’s respond with statements about LGBT in the military, in an environment that has, in the past, ignored or rejected gay rights issues.

To learn more about how your organization can implement dignity and respect on issues such as minority rights, check out our website and initiatives.


Are You Registered to Vote?

Vote America, Register to VoteWe have a number of initiatives here at the Dignity & Respect Campaign to Build Cultural Awareness, Stop the Violence, Prevent Bullying, and Lead the Way – but it’s October 2016, and one of our initiatives works singlehandedly to push all the others forward: the one where we encourage you to get out and Vote!

How to Register to Vote

First things first: October 11, 2016 is the last day to register to vote in the November 8th election. That means you can register ON October 11, too, so don’t panic!

If you’re not registered or you’re not sure if you are, you can visit vote.gov to find out and complete your registration online, if allowed by your state (Pennsylvania, where D&R Campaign is based, does allow online registration). USA.gov provides a list of requirements, instructions for in-person registration, mail application, and other options and information. Each state has its own voting rules and requirements, so be sure you’re correctly informed for your state.

Does it take a long time to register? That’s a common myth. With all the necessary credentials, you can often be approved and officially registered within about a week, and the majority of the work is the government’s, not yours.

Exercise Your Privilege!

While all U.S. citizens (with a few exceptions) are granted the right to vote, it should still be viewed as a privilege. Many minority men, and women of ALL ethnicities are still only one generation removed from having no voice. We must remember the sacrifices of our ancestors and take very seriously this privilege they fought so hard for us to have.

Resources for Citizens and Leaders

In collaboration with Diversity & Inclusion, we’ve created the “I Vote Because…” campaign. Download the flyer here to learn how you can spread the word and get out the vote. The message is this: we all represent different organizations, different parties, and different perspectives, but what we have in common is respect for differences and a commitment to get out the vote. Collectively we have a stronger voice. With ONE VOICE, we encourage you to cast ONE VOTE.

As a leader, no matter where you stand politically, you can make it known that voting is a privilege, a duty, and an action that COUNTS. If anyone needs convincing, Wikipedia has a great page on close election results.

And what can we all do? We can promote dignity and respect by using the facts and standing up and speaking out. Volunteer, attend, or support national and/or local efforts. Tell others how you did your part. Encourage others to join your efforts.  And to get that all started – make sure you’re registered to vote on November 8th!

Why Voting Matters

It’s not hard to craft a list of reasons why people in the U.S. would not want to vote. Our country’s political system has a tendency to alienate people with nonpartisan opinions, for instance. Many of us feel frustrated with our government’s processes, and helpless to take action or participate. Some of us become apathetic and feel like it’s easier to not get involved.

Lots of people experience these varying degrees of vexation over whether or not to venture down to the polls. In fact, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are around 219 million people in the United States who are eligible to vote – but only 57.5% of us voted in the 2012 Presidential election. The younger generation (also known as Millennials) are notorious for being the least likely to participate in elections, primarily because they are frustrated with the way the system operates. In fact, half of these young Americans do not affiliate themselves with a specific party, which is the highest percentage of disaffiliated citizens in history. As for the other age groups who are not voting? Many of them claim to be too busy to head to the polls. An additional 13% stated they were not interested in the candidates or their politics.

Beyond the lengthy – and often valid – reasons not to vote, what about the reasons we should?


Why Vote

So you’ve probably heard of how the Electoral College works, and maybe even cited it as a reason not to vote. Many people feel like this system is unfair and believe their votes won’t matter or count because of it. And for people who only come out to the polls every four years to vote in the huge presidential races then yes, it’s harder to see how voting Democratic in a predominantly Republican state might make a difference (though take note that President Obama was actually able to win the Democratic vote in 2008  for several states that had voted primarily Republican for years).  

But presidential races are not the only important elections we participate in. In fact, the President of the United States – while certainly a very important and powerful figure – doesn’t have as much governmental power as we often believe. If you think back to your Civics or Social Studies classes in schools, you’ll recall that there are three different branches of government designed to help distribute the power and keep one another in check.

With this in mind, think about all of those other elections that happen year-round. There are federal elections, of course, but there are also state and local elections as well.

When it comes to public officials and electing representatives, everything is connected. As a board member of the Missouri NAACP put it: “Who hires the police officers? The police chief. Who hires the police chief? The mayor. Who hires the mayor? Who elects the council folks?”

The answer boils down to the voters. And in certain cases, when a group of people is not being well-represented in government, it’s often because of a lack of voter representation. If you’re not voting for the people who align with your viewpoints and principles, then how will those viewpoints and principles be represented in government? And if you don’t start from the ground up – with local elections or state officials – then how can you expect the various branches of the government to help support whichever presidential candidate you want to vote in come November?


Do Your Part

“Voting matters. When voters don’t turn out to choose their local and state governments, they receive a government that doesn’t represent them.”

Frustration over larger-than-life government processes can be eased by participating in those processes. The more we all do our part and share our voices, the more we start to find other voices who are saying the same things. Do your part this election season and get out to vote. Make yourself heard!

Start by finding your closest polling location so you can take part in the way our country is run. And be sure to follow the Dignity & Respect #IVoteBecause initiative over the coming months – tell us why you vote!


Workplace Bullying

The Hidden Facts of Workplace Bullying

A common misperception is that bullying ends after one graduates or otherwise leaves high school.  The truth is that bullying is alive and well in our adult world, and bullying in the workplace is a significant problem that is too often overlooked.


According to a 2014 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 7% of employees in the United States reported that they are currently being bullied – while an additional 20% reported being the victim of workplace bullying at some point in their career. At current economic employment rates, these percentages would translate to 11.16 million people currently victimized by workplace bullying and nearly 32 million people who have been a victim of workplace bullying at some point in their career.

Pathology of Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is much different than the more widely known type of bullying found in schools.  Many of the tactics used are often more subtle, and any singular tactic would hardly be considered a case of bullying in our modern workplace.  Over time, however, the patterns of behavior and the combination of tactics that a perpetrator uses to inflict emotional distress or otherwise exert influence over the victim are what makes workplace bullying especially problematic, and can often result in more overt behaviors.

The Costs of Workplace Bullying

Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of bullying in the workplace is taking a toll on the physical and mental health of employees.  According to a 2012 study of victims of workplace bullying by the WBI, 71%of victims sought treatment from a physician during or shortly after they were victims of workplace bullying, while 63% sought care from a licensed mental health practitioner.  The results of the diagnoses are alarming:bullying_effects

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, mental illness among the workforce amounted to $19 billion per year in lost employment and an additional $3 billion in reduced productivity.  While not all of these losses can be attributed to the after effects of workplace bullying, additional research does indicate that victims of workplace bullying experienced 26%more absences from work due to to illness.

For the employer, the costs of workplace bullying are significant, and are largely comprised of those associated with reduced productivity and employee turnover.  Excluding the costs of increased medical care expenses and the intangible costs associated with damage to reputations, the annual costs associated with productivity declines, turnover, disability payments, and legal proceedings for the average Fortune 500 employer are still in excess of $20 million per year.bullying-annualcosts

How to Recognize Workplace Bullying

Many of our modern workplaces are highly competitive environments, where high levels of individual and team performance are necessary to achieve the organization’s goals.  Identifying employees that may be victims of workplace bullying within this type of environment can be difficult, but there are some clear signs to look for.

Do Your Part: Help Us Fight Violence

Violence is a constant presence in the news. Scroll through most Facebook and Twitter feeds, or open up any newspaper and you will see the sheer volume of violent acts that happen across both the country and the world.

Community violence, in particular, is most commonly featured on these news platforms and is defined as an intentional attempt to hurt one or more people. In fact, every day in the U.S. over 85 gun deaths occur – which is around 3 deaths per hour. Last year, over 16,000 homicides were committed, and a U.S. Department of Justice study found that over 60% of children in America have been exposed to violence.

But violence doesn’t only occur on the outside in a physical way. Violence can also affect people both emotionally and psychologically. For simple proof of this, compare the 16,000 homicides last year to the 38,000 suicides that also occurred. Violence comes in many forms and is difficult to understand.

According to the CDC’s Principles of Prevention (POP) curriculum, violence as a whole is a complicated issue and there are multiple influences at various levels. “There’s no single reason why some people behave violently while others do not.”

So what can be done about the issue?

The Dignity & Respect Campaign takes all of these statistics very seriously – and when it comes to violence and destruction, enough is enough. Violence places a huge burden on the health of our country and we want your help in working to fight it.

We believe the first step towards violence prevention is education, which is why we’ve started our “I Will Do My Part” initiative. We also want to promote resources like POP training so that you can better understand violence, as well as programs like STRYVE that address more specific kinds of violence.

But beyond these helpful materials, we encourage you to remember that violence is a large issue that can be tackled a little bit at a time. You might not be capable of foreseeing and preventing a mass shooting, but you can speak out and help to demolish violent bigotry towards other cultures. You can look for ways you can get involved locally and report back to D&R on how you helped.

Small acts matter just as much as the large ones do. How will you play your part to stop violence?