Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jenny Taw

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This thesis examines the evolution of LGBTQ+ personnel policies in the U.S. military, analyzing how these changes reflect broader social transformations and the military’s role as both a mirror and catalyst in societal shifts. It traces the historical roots of discriminatory practices against queer and transgender servicemembers, identifying key periods of reform and resistance. Using institutional theory to dissect the mechanisms of policy adaptation, this paper focuses on coercive, mimetic, and normative isomorphism, which illustrate the complex interplay between external societal pressures, internal demands for legitimacy, and the professionalization of the military. Through detailed case studies, the thesis highlights how personnel policies have oscillated between exclusion and inclusion, reflecting, and sometimes precipitating shifts in societal values regarding gender and sexuality. Finally, it argues that inclusive military personnel policies are not only crucial indicators of societal acceptance but create a more capable military that reflects the diverse society it serves to protect.