Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter June 8, 2007

There is a storm of controversy over President Bush's plans to appoint James W. Holsinger as the United States Surgeon General. In a press release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Holsinger's opposition to gay people is outlined. The article indicates Holsinger "promoted 'reparative therapy,'" which is alarming. If Holsinger believes in ex-gay therapy, the United States could be in the position of having a Surgeon General who is endorsing what is generally considered to be unethical medical/therapeutic practices. Given the fact that the Surgeon General promotes the general health and well-being of all people, the possible appointment of a man who might still hold potentially therapeutically harmful beliefs about gay people causes concern. People can change their opinions. We hope James Holsinger has changed his opinion regarding ex-gay counselling. We are not certain what Holsinger's current beliefs are regarding ex-gay counselling. We encourage residents of the United States to research into Holsinger's beliefs, and to contact their Representative, Senator, and the White House with any concerns or opinions they have about Holsinger serving as the Surgeon General. The Stop Hate web site page How You Can Help has a section on political action. In that section, one can click to email the White House. There are also links to Representatives and Senators.

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An Associated Press article on the Mike on Crime site tells how pipeline workers in the Ukraine found what is believed to be a mass grave of thousands of Jewish people killed during World War Two. According to the article, a Nazi concentration camp operated in the area where the mass grave was found. The article cites Yitzhak Arrad, a Holocaust scholar as saying 10,000 Jewish people died in the camp. Jewish people died and were murdered at a "rate of around 500 a day." The article indicates there are thought to be 250 to 350 mass graves from the time of the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine and that about 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews were killed.

Some people are trying to deny the Holocaust took place. Other people find it almost impossible to image so many Jewish people were killed by the Nazis, so they tend to disbelieve death figures from the Nazi concentration camps. Because fewer survivors of the Holocaust are alive, fewer people are able to tell the story of the Holocaust. That is why the discovery of mass graves where Jewish people are buried is very important.

Hate always has the potential to be very serious. When governments sanction, endorse, or sponsor hate, the nature of the hate crime can become horrendous. That was the case when the Nazi government engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing, by systematically identifying and killing Jewish people.

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Ignorance and fear can be at the root of hate crimes. Many of the men and women responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jewish people during World War Two probably had few Jewish friends or acquaintances. People are more likely to believe false reports about a group of people being to blame for the problems of society when they know few people of that group.

A teenager who was convicted for taking part in bashing a gay teacher got an interesting sentence. One part of his sentence is reported to be working for a day as an intern at the gay magazine 3SIXTY. The result was interesting. The teenager was asked to research homophobic hate crimes. He was also asked to write an article about a well-known gay person. After the internship, the teenager asked his probation officer if he could write an apology to the man he bashed. An article about the teen can be found on the Advocate site.

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In an Associated Press article on the Mike on Crime web site, the cousin of a Klansman is reported as testifying that over 40 years ago, they "abducted and attacked" two black teens.

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The Stop Hate web site has two new reviews, a book review and a journal article review. The book reviewed, The Advocate College Guide, could be one of the more important resources for families that have high school or college-aged queer youth. The Advocate College Guide reviews the 100 most gay-friendly colleges in the United States. Book and movie reviews can be read on the Stop Hate Review pages. People interested in the causes of homophobia may want to read the article "Homosexuality: Is Etiology Really Important?" appearing in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy. A review of the article can be read on our Stop Hate Review pages.

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On the WYFF4.Com web site is an article about a murder in Greenville County, South Carolina. According to the article, Sean Kennedy was walking from the bar to his car when a car pulled up, somebody jumped out and punched Sean, and the assailant took off. Sean Kennedy died later in the hospital. Because Sean Kennedy was gay, the police are reported to be investigating to see if the crime is a hate crime.

Unfortunately, Sean Kennedy was not the only recent victim of gay violence. Steven Richey, a gay man in Montana, was attacked by two people. He was beaten so badly one of his lungs is reported to have collapsed. He spent nine days in the hospital after the attack. Hatred of gay people might be a factor. According to the Advocate article, the attackers made anti-gay comments while they assaulted him.

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The cost of hate to the health and social care systems, and to the economy might never have been estimated. A new editorial appearing on the Stop Hate web site asks about the cost to society of homophobia.

I realize there are homophobes who base their discrimination on moral positions. They may feel their morality gives them the undisputed right to voice homophobic rage. Well, in my opinion, health trumps religious beliefs. Health concerns have a higher priority than religious beliefs. You have a right to voice your religious beliefs, as long as those religious beliefs do not harm the health of other people. Homophobia harms the health of gay and bisexual people. David Scasta, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Temple University writes, "Gay people who are able to affirmatively acknowledge their sexual orientation to self and others tend to be happier, healthier, and better able to bond and develop a social network than their closeted counterparts."(1)

As I reflect on Dr. Scasta's comments, I cannot help but wonder what the social, health, and economic costs of homophobia. Health costs are obvious. The homophobia-related cost of counselling and psychotherapy is high. Some people feel closeted gay people are not as creative as gay and bisexual people who are open about their sexuality. Lost creativity in art, drama, music, writing, engineering, architecture, business, science, research, and public administration could cost society millions of dollars. How many prize-winning novels or films, gold records, scientific or technological breakthroughs, and medical discoveries have we lost due to homophobia?_________________________

(1) David Scasta. "Issues in Helping People Come Out." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy. Vol 2 (4), 87.

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A few news stories we are following appear below:

•A very sad story appears on the 365Gay.Com web site. According to the news item, Jonathan Reynolds, a 15 year old, committed suicide after having been teased about his sexuality at school. A few weeks before his death, reports are that he came out to a friend. Students who are harassed or teased about their sexuality at school can talk to a teacher, counsellor, or school administrator. In many areas in North America, schools have policies in place to help protect students from this form of bullying.

•The Advocate News has an article indicating a girl who sued after a school disciplined her for using the phrase "that's so gay" is not entitled to a monetary award. There are some interesting twists in the student's case. The article is worth reading to learn the complete nature of the student's complaint against the school.

•A Montreal CP article on the Mike on Crime web site indicates the police are investigating a fire at a Jewish summer camp north of Montreal. At this stage, investigators do not know if the fire is arson. Fortunately, nobody was injured as a result of the fire.

•There are recent gains in legal rights and protections for gay people. Oregon now allows some of the legal benefits of marriage to same-sex couple. Information about this important legal development can be read on the Advocate News system. Iowa passed a law that protects gay people from discrimination at work and in accommodations.

•There are times when a crime targets more than one group of people at once. Large billboards advocating gay Christian tolerance were vandalized in Indiana. The vandalism could be seen to be targeting gay people and Christians. Click here to read an article about the vandalism.

•A Winnipeg Free Press article states St. Charles Roman Catholic Parish's cemetery was vandalized. More than twenty gravestones were "knocked over." This is the second time the cemetery was vandalized in about a month. The article can be read on the Mike on Crime site.

•A radio host as suspended after he performed a song that had some anti-gay slurs. Additional information can be found on the PlanetOut/Advocate news site.

•Some people feel hiding one's identity to be safe is not good for a person's emotional health or creativity. Through periods of time, many different groups of people have had to hide their identity for safety. During World War Two, many Jewish people had to live in the closet to remain alive. Many gay people live in the closet. A recent article cites an Australian survey that indicates closeted gay married men "have contemplated suicide" about their wives finding out. An article about the study can be found on the Advocate web site.

•The internet does not let people hide from prosecution, as they utter threats. A man in Montreal recently learned that. He was arrested by the police after making anti-Francophone threats on the U Tube system. An article on his arrest can be read on Mike on Crime.

•When Erin Davies VW Beetle was vanadlized with the words "Fag Bug" pained on it during the Day of Silence, Erin decided to use the vandalism as a way of protesting hate crimes. She left the words "Fag Bug" on her car. The Advocate article states Erin plans on driving her car across the country to protest hate crimes.

•One man has plead guilty in his role in beating to death gay teenager, Scotty Joe Weaver. An article about the trial can be read on the Advocate News site.

•The United Kingdom Home Office web site has some statistics on hate crimes for 2006. According to the web site, there were 50,000 racial or religious motivated hate crimes. Just the Metropolitan Police reported over 11,700 racist or religious hate crimes and over 1,350 homophobic hate crimes in 2006. The web site says police think up to 90% of homophobic hate crimes are not reported. The Home Office web site states most racial hate crime offenders are under 30 years of age and the most homophobia hate crime offenders are between 16 and 20 years of age.

The amount of unreported crimes related to sexual orientation is a matter of concern. Given the level of unreported homophobic hate crimes, homophobia-related crime might be one of the most numerous hate crimes.

•We are not certain if this is a hate crime, but the nature of the crime is a concern. In Washington state, vandals burned many small American flags that decorated veterans' graves. The American flags were replaced with swastikas. More about this act of vandalism can be read on Mike on Crime.

•Churches wishing to promote dialogue regarding homosexuality may want to review the document produced after Christ Church (Anglican) in Edmonton, Canada engaged in a Lenton study on homosexuality. The lengthy document outlines some ground rules the guided discussion, contains a number of lectures, and lists some of the ideas that developed from the discussion groups. The document, titled An Invitation to Dialogue: Perspectives on Sexuality, Faith and the Anglican Church, can be found on the Christ Church web site.

Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.

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