The Space and Air Forces Launch an LGBTQ Task Force

Speaking at a virtual roundtable on Wednesday morning, Leah Lauderback, director of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance for the US Space Force, was explaining the name of a new project she’s leading—one that isn’t exactly about the satellites or spy stuff that make up her main job. It’s called LIT, for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning Initiative Team. Their vision, she said, is “to be the light that illuminates the path toward change, acceptance, and equality for all of those that came before us and those that will come after us.”

In April, Air Force officials announced that they had created both the LIT and the Indigenous Nations Equality Team (INET) as part of their larger Barrier Analysis Working Group. In case you needed another acronym, that’s BAWG, coincidentally pronounced like the noun that means “a swampy area” and the verb that means “to become impeded or stuck.” The teams are meant to support those who may have felt alone and unheard in the past, and to help them chart a better path through their military careers. In addition to the two new teams, five others already represent women, people with disabilities, and Black, Hispanic, and Pacific islander/Asian American service members.

Lauderback and Colonel Terrence Adams, head of INET, used the roundtable to publicly lay out their missions. Right now, her group is in a sort of R&D phase, Lauderback said; they want to find out if LGBTQ service members feel they are able to serve openly, without fear, and in a welcoming environment. Those are good questions, especially on the cusp of Pride Month, and 10 years after the Department of Defense’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy got kicked to the curb.

Under that outdated mandate, lesbian, gay and bisexual people could don uniforms but couldn’t be open about their sexual orientation, lest they be booted from service. Trans people, meanwhile, have been whiplashed between policies governing whether they can serve at all. Banned starting in the 1960s, trans people were then allowed to serve beginning in 2016. During the Trump administration, a ban went back into effect. President Joe Biden recently reversed that policy, a move that advocates hailed as a step forward for inclusion and equity.

“We’re happy to see open service restored, ending a damaging form of systemic discrimination and enabling greater opportunities for those willing and able to serve in uniform,” says Casey Pick, senior fellow for advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.

The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
The Better Web Movement
 

Still, the situation for LGBTQ+ people in the military isn’t all parades, and that includes within the Space Force, the newest branch of the armed services. It’s housed under the Department of the Air Force, and was established in 2019 to deal with military assets in space, like GPS satellites and missile-warning systems.

US Space Force Major General Leah Lauderback

 

Photograph: U.S. Air Force

As a major general assigned to the Space Force, Lauderback is LIT’s senior champion, a high-up who can make things heard. “To make this a more inclusive force, one, you need to change culture,” she said. “And in that case, really, there’s hearts and minds that you need to change. But secondly, you have to change policy. We can’t expect a diverse and inclusive workforce if we just want that to happen at a grassroots level.” Lauderback sees these efforts—and those of the other BAWG teams—as national security necessities. “The military is an all-volunteer force,” she said. “We need to recruit the best and the brightest and those that are passionate to serve. We need a diverse workforce, one that resembles the American public, and creating an inclusive environment helps to ensure that we retain that talent.”

But that was not always the attitude at the Department of Defense, as Lauderback knows well. She entered the Air Force the same year “Don’t ask, don’t tell” went into effect. “I have firsthand knowledge of what it means to work in a noninclusive environment, and I would describe it as personally upsetting, challenging, and demeaning at times,” she said. “I put my desire to serve the nation above my desire to live a normal life.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *