Service Women’s Action Network Military Service Academies

The Veterans Legal Services Clinic represents the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) in its efforts to combat gender inequality at the Military Services Academies.

On behalf of SWAN, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Connecticut (ACLU-CT), the Clinic filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2015 to compel record production of prior requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). SWAN, ACLU, and ACLU-CT aim to understand why the number of women enrolled at the U.S. Military Service Academies remains so low despite increasing opportunities for women in the military, including the repeal of the combat exclusion rule. The FOIA requests seek admissions data, admissions and recruitment policies, and records concerning quotas or targets for the admission of women. SWAN, ACLU, and ACLU-CT intend to use the information to advocate for equal opportunities for young women who wish to serve their country and to mitigate the misogynistic culture that currently exists at the Military Service Academies by increasing the presence of women.

A copy of the complaint with attached FOIA requests can be found here.

On April 27, 2015, the Clinic represented SWAN in drafting and submitting a proposed Executive Order to the White House that provides sex discrimination protections for students at the Military Service Academies. The Executive Order is a necessary response to the Military Service Academies’ failure to adequately address sexual discrimination, harassment, and assault complaints. By signing it, the President would create a new legal avenue for victims to challenge the Military Service Academies’ mistreatment of sex discrimination, including sexual assault and harassment. Currently, cadets and midshipmen may only challenge such mistreatment within the military system that governs them, unlike their peers at civilian institutions, for whom Title IX provides a means of appealing outside of the academic system. The proposed executive order provides additional protection against sex discrimination by empowering the Department of Defense Inspector General (IG) to enforce the order and to handle victims’ claims that the Military Service Academies have failed to respond appropriately to such discrimination.

A copy of the proposed executive order can be found here.

Media Clips

Ashley Anderson & Elizabeth Deutsch, Stop Assaults on Military Campuses, The New York Times, Op-Ed page, May 12, 2015  
Ian Duncan, Activists Call for Stiffer Internal Oversight of Military Academy Sex Assault Cases, The Baltimore Sun, April 27, 2015
Travis Tritten, Group Urges IG Oversight of Service Academy Sex Assaults, Stars and Stripes, April 27, 2015
Alyona Minkovski, How SWAN is Tackling Sexual Assault in Military Service Academies, HuffPost Live, April 27, 2015
Anna Mulrine, Pentagon Push For Women's Equality Gets Murky At Academies' Doorsteps, The Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 2015
Nancy Montgomery, Rights Groups Sue Over Release of Military School Admissions, Claim Women Discriminated, Stars and Stripes, February 4, 2015
Michael Melia, Veterans Group Wants Data On Military Service Academies Gender Admission Policies, Huffington Post, February 3, 2015
Ian Duncan, ACLU, Military Women's Group Sue Defense Department for Naval Academy Records on Female Midshipmen, The Baltimore Sun, February 3, 2015
Cara Rosner, Lawsuit Filed To Gain Records Of Military Academies’ Admissions, C-HIT, February 3, 2015
Mary E. O’Leary, Lack of Women at Service Academies Sparks Suit by Yale Law Clinic, New Haven Register, February 2, 2015