personnel security

Sexual Behavior

Relevance to Security

Sexual behavior can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified information when it: involves a criminal offense, indicates a personality or emotional disorder, reflects lack of judgment or discretion, or it causes an individual to be vulnerable to undue influence, exploitation, or duress. No adverse inference concerning the standards in this guideline may be made solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual.

Most scientific research and past espionage cases show that the connection between sexual behavior and personnel security is far more complex than the simple notion that “normal” sex is acceptable and “nonconforming” sexual practices are a security risk.  Self-control, social maturity, strength of character, and overall psychological adjustment are more important security indicators than the specific sexual practices in which people engage. Sexual orientation or preference may not be used as a basis for disqualification in adjudicating eligibility for security clearance.

A common error in thinking about sexuality is to reason that “since I’m normal, most other normal people must think and behave more or less the way I do.” Actually, “normal” human sexual behavior is far more diverse than most people realize, and many seemingly unusual behaviors have little or no relationship to security. What is considered normal in one realm of society may be distinctly abnormal in another

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