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association asked to adopt antidiscrimination policy

association asked to adopt antidiscrimination policy

LGBT former students of the Naval Academy fight to make alumni association gay-inclusive.

A group of LGBT former students and graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., is asking the school's alumni association to implement an antidiscrimination policy for its members, saying the organization is hostile toward gays and lesbians. Members of USNA Out (United States Naval Academy Out)--an unaccredited group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender former Naval Academy students--sent a letter to the national alumni association's board of directors on October 25 in a second attempt to make the group more gay-inclusive. "We weren't welcomed in the military, and now as civilians we aren't welcomed either," said Jeff Petrie, a gay 1989 graduate who founded USNA Out in 2003 and now serves as its president. The group's first effort at having the association adopt a discrimination-free policy was rejected by the group's board earlier this year. The alumni board will gather this Thursday at the Naval Academy for one of its semiannual meetings. Petrie said he will be present at the meeting, where debate is not allowed and attendance is limited to Naval Academy alumni, hoping his presence will change board members' minds and in effect make the group more inclusive.

"It's 'don't ask, don't tell,' right? We're civilians now--we can tell all we want," he said.

Since its inception, USNA Out has tried to get the alumni association to recognize it as an official chapter, Petrie said. Naval Academy alumni association president and CEO George Watt Jr. told USNA Out that creating a separate gay chapter was "unnecessary" and would "isolate gay graduates from the alumni at large." Petrie said part of Watt's argument against USNA Out was that he didn't want to create a "special-category chapter." However, the alumni association recognizes one chapter devoted to former Naval Academy students who are enthusiasts of recreational vehicles, Petrie said. "If they can have an R.V. chapter, they sure should be able to have a gay and lesbian chapter," Petrie added.

According to Petrie, there are 96 chapters of the Naval Academy Alumni Association worldwide, and the gay chapter has been the only chapter request denied. (Neal Broverman,

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