The U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuality - in the news recently with controversial comments by the nation's top general - will be the subject of a panel discussion next week on the Kansas University campus.
The event, slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union, will include family members of Pfc. Barry Winchell, a soldier at Fort Knox, Ky., who had been dating a transgendered showgirl when he was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat by another soldier in 1999.
The discussion is one of a series of events scheduled for KU's annual Pride Week, sponsored by the campus group Queers & Allies.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy, essentially a ban on open homosexuality, began under President Bill Clinton but resurfaced in the news this month when Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called homosexual acts "immoral."
KU student Stephanie Bottoms, 21, an officer with the Queers & Allies group, said she had mixed feelings about the policy. She said she realized at age 15 that she was homosexual - or at least that there was a term for what she'd felt all her life.
"If I was to go into the military, I'd probably want to keep it a secret," she said.
But for many people, she said, "it's an issue of freedom. People don't want to hide it."
Other Pride Week events include a discussion of the politics of the "ex-gay" movement, which seeks to get people to abandon homosexuality.
That discussion will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Jayhawk Room of the Kansas Union, featuring former KU sociology faculty member Christine Robinson, who is now at James Madison University in Virginia.
A "Kiss-In" encouraging same-sex couples to kiss in public will be from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday on Wescoe Beach.
Radio talk-show host and columnist Dan Savage will speak at an adults-only event 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union.
The annual "Brown Bag Drag" show including female impersonators will be at noon Friday in front of the Kansas Union.