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Feedback: September 9

Letter to the editor regarding suicide prevention week.

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The following was submitted as a letter to the editor.

This week, Sept. 4-10, marks the 37th annual National Suicide Prevention Week. This month also marks the one-year anniversary of nine LGBT teens across the United States tragically taking their own lives after enduring relentless bullying and discrimination in school. Unfortunately, although this tragic string of LGBT youth suicides was highly (and uniquely) publicized, it was not an anomaly. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and independent research groups consistently show that between 30-40 percent of LGBT youth have considered and/or attempted suicide at least once in their lifetimes. Even higher percentages are stigmatized, bullied, harassed, and assaulted for their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression in schools across the country. These statistics are absolutely unacceptable. No child should suffer like Seth Walsh or Tyler Clementi or any other LGBT youth who has tragically attempted or fallen victim to suicide. As LGBT adults, as American citizens, and as human beings, it is our responsibility to help end this tragic epidemic.

Fortunately, a number of groups have been working toward creating conditions in which suicide is no longer a common tragedy among sexual minority youth. The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has been combating bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools since the 1990s. Since 1998, The Trevor Project has operated as the leading national organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBT and questioning youth. The Trevor Project provides The Trevor Lifeline, a confidential around-the-clock helpline; TrevorChat, a suicide and crisis prevention online chat service; and a variety of other programs and resources for youth and schools. More recently, after the string of suicides last year, online columnist Dan Savage launched the “It Gets Better” campaign, which prompted thousands of youth, parents, LGBT community members, allies, celebrities, and politicians—including the president of the United States—to create and post videos on YouTube encouraging struggling LGBT youth that life does get better.

Unfortunately, even the best efforts of GLSEN, The Trevor Project, and other organizations formed to aid LGBT youth are not enough. No number of YouTube videos assuring sexual minority youth that life will get better eventually can completely drown out the messages to the contrary that these youth see in school and on television everyday.

When a teenager turns on the news and sees that another gay man was beaten up in Salt Lake City, that a group of transgender women and their friends were shot by a D.C. police officer, and that the Defense of Marriage Act still prevents same-sex couples from receiving equal protection under the law, they are told that it doesn’t get better. This is unacceptable. We need to make it better, and we need to do so now. We all need to get involved in politics, in our communities, and in schools to make life better. Not just for LGBT adults, but for LGBT youth, too.

In 1993, GLSEN founder and former Assistant Deputy Education Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools Kevin Jennings was asked to edit the first-ever high school gay and lesbian history text. I have heard Kevin give many speeches in support of LGBT inclusiveness in schools, but he has always ended with the same story: “As I was doing research, I learned of One Magazine, America’s first gay magazine, which began publication in 1953. I decided to read some, and came across this letter to the editor in One’s October 1954 issue: ‘I will always remain willing to support, in my small way, any effort to reduce intolerance toward a minority group in the United States. Intolerance is basically as un-American as Communism. I realize the road ahead of us is long and difficult, but that part of the road already traveled has been pretty tough, too.’” People like Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz, Harvey Milk and Mara Keisling, and Kevin Jennings himself, have traveled a tough road, but they have still managed to make an incredible difference in the lives of LGBT youth. It is our turn, and our responsibility to the LGBT youth of the present and future, to keep traveling down that road.

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, The Trevor Project is encouraging members of the LGBT and allied community to be a resource for youth who need to talk. To take the Talk To Me Pledge and join the Talk To Me campaign, go to HYPERLINK “http://www.trevortalktome.org/”trevortalktome.org. —Samuel Garrett, Washington, D.C.

 

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Clarifying the record on Mexican homophobia case

Court judgment challenged as accusations of discrimination disputed

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(This is a response to a story published Jan. 18 by contributor Armando Ocampo Zambrano)

I brought to the attention of the Washington Blade that no court decision exists in the terms set out by Armando Ocampo Zambrano in the interview published in the Blade on Jan. 18, 2019. 

Ocampo untruthfully stated that “he became the first Mexican to win a lawsuit due to homophobia against one of the most powerful law firms in the country”; such statement as the result of a judgment issued on Sept. 5, 2018 by the High Chamber of the Federal Court of Administrative Justice, which Ocampo falsely brags as a judgement against Chevez Ruiz Zamarripa y Cía., S.C. (“Chevez”) condemning it for acts of discrimination.

The firm represents the interests of Chevez in the lawsuit that resulted from the complaint/legal action filed by Ocampo with the National Council to Prevent Discrimination alleging several facts that Ocampo claims happened on November 2015, in which he and partners of Chevez participated; Ocampo considered them to be discriminatory and therefore filed the complaint.

Council, by decision issued on Jan. 26, 2017, concluded that Chevez was not liable for discriminatory acts affecting Ocampo.   

Ocampo filed legal action for the annulment of Council’s decision of Jan. 26, 2017 with the Federal Court of Administrative Justice; this Court annulled Council’s decision ordering it to re-issue same considering certain evidence provided by the parties. 

Chevez and Ocampo, both, contested the judgment through Amparo lawsuits, to be decided by the Seventh Collegiate Tribunal for Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, which will decide on the validity and legality of the Judgment, which obviously as of today is not final and conclusive. 

The above statement by Ocampo in the interview is totally and absolutely false because of the following two reasons:

1. There is no court decision issued by any Mexican court/authority that concludes that Chevez was found guilty of acts of discrimination against Ocampo. 

2. The judgement has been challenged by Ocampo precisely because Chevez was not found liable for acts of discrimination against Ocampo.

Chevez also challenged the judgment considering that Council´s decision issued on Jan. 26, 2017 is correct and impeccable, not being legally correct that the High Chamber of the Federal Court of Administrative Justice annuls Council´s decision. 

Luis Alfonso Cervantes Muñiz is an attorney licensed in Mexico by the Escuela Libre de Derecho, and founding partner of Cervantes Sainz, S.C.

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Letters to the editor

Chase Brexton criticized; CAMP Rehoboth wins praise

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Speak Fire, gay news, Washington Blade

Speak Fire, AIDS Walk, gay news, Washington Blade

Chase Brexton Health Care (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Chase Brexton not an exemplary provider

Re: “Where is Chase Brexton growing?” (Op-ed by Nate Sweeney, Oct. 28)

I read Nate Sweeney’s op-ed with a mixture of anger and incredulity. Sweeney’s desperate appeal in defense of Chase Brexton conveniently glosses over a recent, well-documented pattern of irresponsible, unethical, and potentially illegal behavior at the beleaguered Baltimore institution that was once a beacon for the LGBTQ community.

“An exemplary LGBTQ provider and resource for our communities” does not fire five beloved staff members with outstanding service records (four of them openly gay, like Sweeney), as Chase Brexton did in August in a blatant attempt to retaliate against staff involved in organizing a labor union.

An exemplary LGBTQ provider does not deprive the community of hardworking, dedicated professionals who specialized in HIV/AIDS and LGBT care and were integral to the programs and services Sweeney boasts about.

An exemplary LGBTQ provider does not censor online commentary and ignore patient and community feedback, as Chase Brexton did when it took great pains to literally block out patients protesting outside the recent Charm Ball Fundraiser.

An exemplary LGBT organization doesn’t stifle employee voices, inform healthcare professionals they are only worth the number of patients they see, and disrespect its staff by hiring union busters to attempt to intimidate them into submission. Tell me Mr. Sweeney, what does your employee survey say now, after the despicable events of August of this year?

An exemplary LGBTQ organization isn’t captained by an arrogant, irresponsible board of directors that validates the status quo despite staff issuing a clear vote of no-confidence in the current CEO — a board that by all accounts demonstrates an astounding lack of basic LGBT literacy and has zero representation from transgender individuals.

No, Mr. Sweeney, these days Chase Brexton Health Care is far from an exemplary LGBTQ organization. Your words fall flat and can’t change the sad reality that an organization with deep roots in the gay community has been commandeered by myopic, vindictive “leadership” that values profit over patient care and has shown a callous indifference towards LGBTQ people, their health, and their history.  Marion Goldstein, Baltimore

Support CAMP Rehoboth

CAMP Rehoboth, gay news, Washington Blade

CAMP Rehoboth (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

I retired recently to Rehoboth Beach from Vermont and my transition was smooth, in large part, due to CAMP Rehoboth. Our Coastal Community is blessed with the good works, services, resources and multiple community programs provided by CAMP Rehoboth. For more than 25 years now CAMP Rehoboth has genuinely ‘Created A More Positive’ Rehoboth, with room for all. Please join me in showing our appreciation as a community in the coming winter months by attending one of the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus events. The CAMP Chorus truly is an asset in which Rehoboth, Sussex County and all of Delaware can take great pride.

Please mark your calendars: “Yule Love It,” Saturday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m. Epworth UMC $20. “Come Fly with Me!” Epworth UMC, $25 Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. And DelTech C.C. Georgetown $25, April 2 at 3 p.m. Tickets on sale in December at  HYPERLINK “http://www.camprehoboth.com” www.camprehoboth.com. —Herb Russell, Rehoboth Beach

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Beyer a longtime LGBT rights supporter

His ‘evolution’ consistent with many leading politicians

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Don Beyer, gay news, Washington Blade, Virginia

Don Beyer, gay news, Washington Blade, Virginia

Don Beyer (Photo public domain)

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor in response to “Beyer changed position on same-sex marriage” (news, March 19).

 

I was surprised to see the Blade single out Don Beyer as someone who has changed his position on gay marriage since 1997. Let’s be honest – a vast number of Americans have changed their position on gay marriage since 1997, and that is something that should be applauded, not criticized.

The truth is, like many of our friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, Don has evolved on this issue. In fact, Don evolved long before many of our current Democratic leaders. In 2003, Don endorsed Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in a primary in which Dean and no other candidate was in favor of gay marriage.

In 2006, when several Virginia Democrats joined Republicans in their crusade to ban gay marriage in the Commonwealth, Don personally contributed significantly to the effort opposing the Defense of Marriage Act referendum in Virginia. In doing so, he bucked many in his own party and even the majority of Virginia voters.  Don came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do well before many others, including many in the Democratic Party.

When my partner and I decided to start our own family in 2002, Don and his wife were among the first of our friends, gay or straight, to offer to help us. They have been unwavering advocates in the community for our family, which now includes two children, and we believe Don’s experience and perspective will be critical to addressing the unique issues we face going forward.

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and nearly every Democratic elected official in Virginia has progressed on this issue, and ultimately, that’s what matters.

From prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and elsewhere, to supporting the inclusion of sexual orientation-based crimes in hate crime statutes, Don has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights. To try to paint him as anything otherwise is disingenuous and misleading; it also does a disservice to the people of Virginia.

I realize that in a crowded Democratic primary field we look for points of differentiation among the candidates. This isn’t one of them. —Mark C. Lowham

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