Pentagon links homosexuality with bet-wetting and fear of flying

Defense Department guidelines that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder have been changed and now put it among a list of conditions or "circumstances" that range from bed-wetting to fear of flying.

The new rules are related to the military's retirement practices. They do not affect its "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits officials from inquiring about the sex lives of service members and requires discharges of those who acknowledge being gay.

The revision was made in response to criticism this year that the guidelines listed homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders. Mental health professionals said Thursday they still were not satisfied that the change accurately characterizes the matter.

"We appreciate your good-faith effort to address our concern that the document was not medically accurate," said James H. Scully, head of the American Psychiatric Association, in a letter to David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness. "But we remain concerned because we believe that the revised document lacks the clarity necessary to resolve the issue."

The Pentagon guidelines outline retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities. And it includes sections at the end that describe other specific conditions, circumstances and defects that also could lead to retirement but are not physical disabilities.

Among the conditions are stammering or stuttering, dyslexia, sleepwalking, motion sickness, obesity, insect venom allergies and homosexuality, reports AP.

"More than 30 years after the mental health community declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, it is disappointing that the Pentagon still continues to mischaracterize it as a `defect,' said Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said Thursday that "homosexuality should not have been characterized as a mental disorder. A clarification has been issued."

The APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Questions about the Pentagon's guidelines were raised in June by what is now known as the Michael D. Palm Center, a research institute at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

There were 726 military members discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the budget year that ended Sept. 30.

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