Military recruiters march back into Oregon high schools

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 19 2002 12:00 AM ET

After a six-year absence, military recruiters again have access to high schools in Portland, Ore. Like many educational institutions around the country, Portland schools had barred military recruiters because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which discriminates against gay people. Now, under a sweeping federal law that requires high schools to give military recruiters the same access to their buildings that they give to business employers and colleges, Portland high schools are letting military recruiters back on campus. School districts are also required to give recruiters a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all high school students. Those that don't can lose federal funds.

At Portland's Wilson High School, recruiters on Tuesday laid out posters and brochures, free mirrored compacts and calendars, and made their pitch. Air Force staff sergeant Caleb Westfall and Capt. Kenneth Clark spoke with five students about the benefits of ROTC scholarships, which can be worth up to $100,000. "And you'll get to work with high-caliber people in the Air Force," Westfall said. "You don't see a lot of Enron-like behavior. People are professional, have integrity."

Reaction to the return of recruiters to Portland schools has been mixed. Madison High School counselor David Colton backed the military ban. "I can't in good conscience support such a discriminating institution," he said, adding that he thinks recruiting tactics can be too aggressive or outright dishonest.