Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Can the Herald-Citizen handle the truth?

Last night we brought you the story of Shayne Bilbrey's attempt to get his letter to the editor about GLBT youth published in The Herald-Citizen. Since that time Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out has picked up the post and today R.G. Cravens, chair of the TEP Upper Cumberland Committee, is pressing for answers in his own letter to the editor:

To whom it may concern,

I'm writing today about an issue that has recently been brought to the attention of our organization.

We were recently contacted by Shayne Bilbrey who authored a letter to your paper with a message of encouragement to LGBT students and youth in our area. The letter is a message of hope and acceptance which is desperately needed, especially in areas like ours. Shayne reported that he was told by a member of your staff that his letter would not be published because it did not meet the "family values" standards of your publication.

Let me share with you some staggering facts about young people in the LGBT community from the Trevor Project:
  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey 2007).
  • More than 1/3 of LGB youth report having made a suicide attempt (D’Augelli AR - Clinical Child Psychiatry and Psychology 2002)
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (Grossman AH, D’Augelli AR - Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior 2007)
  • Questioning youth who are less certain of their sexual orientation report even higher levels of substance abuse and depressed thoughts than their heterosexual or openly LGBT-identified peers (Poteat VP, Aragon SR, et al – Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2009)
  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection (Ryan C, Huebner D, et al - Peds 2009;123(1):346-352)
  • More information is available here:
So you see, regardless of your values, I think we can agree that the life of a young person is more valuable than anything.

The Herald-Citizen has recently appeared in a number of blog posts regarding this issue:

I would hope that the Herald-Citizen does not have a policy of rejecting letters relating to GLBT issues simply because they disagree with the content. It is my hope that your paper can show our community locally and nationally that you are accepting of differing opinions and appreciate the diversity of the Upper Cumberland region.

Please consider publishing Shanye's letter or contact me so we can discuss your actual policy as we intend to write letters to your paper in the future.

Thank you for your time,

R.G. Cravens
Chair, Tennessee Equality Project Upper Cumberland Committee

-Posted by Chris Sanders

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