Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 74–82 | Cite as

Prevalence of Military Sexual Trauma and Sexual Orientation Discrimination Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Military Personnel: a Descriptive Study

  • Sitaji Gurung
  • Ana Ventuneac
  • H. Jonathon Rendina
  • Elizabeth Savarese
  • Christian Grov
  • Jeffrey T. Parsons


Despite the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) and the update to the Transgender Policy, there remain concerns about the persistence of military sexual trauma (MST) and sexual orientation discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members. A sample of 253 participants (89 women, 164 men) completed an Internet-based survey that assessed the prevalence of sexual orientation discrimination (e.g., offensive speech, physical or discriminatory behaviors) and MST (e.g., sexual harassment and sexual assault). The survey was conducted between April 2012 and October 2013. Women and men reported similar levels of sexual orientation discrimination in the military. Participants reported experiencing more threats and intimation, vandalism, and physical assault outside of the military than inside the military (p < 0.05). Although the prevalence of MST (both sexual harassment and sexual assault) in the military was high among both genders, women were more likely to report experiences of sexual harassment compared to men (p < 0.05). Our findings demonstrate the prevalence of MST and sexual orientation discrimination among LGBT service members in the military and point to the need for strong accountability and oversight to protect sexual minority persons while they are serving their country.


LGBT Sexual orientation discrimination MST Sexual harassment Sexual assault 



The Serving Proud study was conducted by the Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training (CHEST), under the direction of Jeffrey T. Parsons. The authors acknowledge the contributions of other members of the Serving Proud Research Team: Aaron Belkin, Ruben Jimenez, and Chris Hietikko, and would also like to thank those who consulted with us on the project: Andrew Jenkins, Grace Macalino, Katie Miller, Ron Nalley, Jeff Mueller, and OutServe-SLDN.


Funding for this project was provided through collaboration between the Palm Center and the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST) at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sitaji Gurung
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Ventuneac
    • 1
    • 3
  • H. Jonathon Rendina
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Elizabeth Savarese
    • 1
  • Christian Grov
    • 2
  • Jeffrey T. Parsons
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST), Hunter CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health PolicyNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Division of Infectious DiseasesIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Hunter CollegeCity University of New York (CUNY)New YorkUSA
  5. 5.Health Psychology and Clinical Science Doctoral Program, Graduate CenterCity University of New York (CUNY)New YorkUSA

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