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Professor Banned For Gay Talk

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Lt. Col. Edith A. Disler, an Air Force officer with 25 years of service, revealed Thursday that she was disciplined and barred from teaching at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., after she invited three gay academy graduates to speak to her class about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

On November 14, 2008, members of the Blue Alliance, a group of LGBT academy alumni, spoke to her language, literature and leadership class for about 10 minutes and, according to Disler, appeared to be very well received by students.

Yet a week after the talk, Disler learned she was being investigated, according to the Modesto Bee. She was not allowed to return to her classroom and could not discuss the matter with students. Academy spokesman John Van Winkle said the investigation began after cadets in the class complained.

A month later she received a formal letter of counseling from the dean of faculty, Dana H. Born. The letter said the Blue Alliance presentation "had the potential to generate the perception that the USAF Academy has taken a position on gays in the military that is contrary to current Air Force and Department of Defense policy on this matter." It chastised Disler for failing to recognize "that negative publicity could follow your decision...[that] had the potential to create the perception that the USAF Academy does not support current Air Force and Department of Defense policy on a this [sic] sensitive manner."

"It's amazing to say that Air Force Academy combat veterans are not welcome on campus just because they're gay," said Disler.

According to the academy, Disler was reprimanded because she didn't receive her department head's approval before the talk. Though Disler claims there was no such requirement in place at the time, Van Winkle said she violated a "policy that did exist at that time," and she was barred from teaching for failing to follow that rule.

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