Following the September 2011 repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy governing the service of gay and lesbian members, cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy established the first gay-straight alliance at a U.S. military service academy on Dec. 1, 2011.

The Spectrum Diversity Council, led by two cadet leaders from each year group, held its inaugural meeting yesterday. The meeting was an opportunity not only for cadets to gather in support of each other but also to hear from local leaders from the community. Mayor Daryl Finizio and Reverend Carolyn Patierno, both openly gay community leaders in New London, shared their own perspectives on the importance of tolerance and acceptance as both leaders and followers in any community – whether it is a city, a congregation or a military unit.

“Spectrum is a group that will allow the Coast Guard Academy and its cadets to broaden their experience and expose them to situations that will help develop them as leaders of character,” said Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz. “As ensigns and future service leaders, these cadets will face a rapidly changing world that demands a more inclusive perspective.”

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