Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"Vulnerable Populations"

Yet another example of the Bush administration's shameful attempt to marginalize GLBT issues:
A federal agency's efforts to remove the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "transgender" from the program of a federally funded conference on suicide prevention have inspired scores of experts in mental health to flood the agency with angry e-mails. ...

At issue is a conference on suicide prevention to be held Feb. 28 in Portland, Ore., and organized by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center of Newton, Mass., a SAMHSA contractor [SAMHSA, the substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Dept. of Health and Human Services]. On the program is a talk that, until recently, was titled "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals."

Everyone seems to agree the topic is important. Studies have found that the suicide risk among people in these groups is two to three times higher than the average risk.

So it came as a surprise to Ron Bloodworth -- a former coordinator of youth suicide prevention for Oregon and one of three specialists leading the session -- when word came down from SAMHSA project manager Brenda Bruun that they should omit the four words that described, precisely, what the session was about. ...

SAMHSA prefers the term "sexual orientation" simply because it is more "inclusive," he said. And besides, he added, it was only a suggestion. Asked how strong a suggestion, Weber replied: "Well, they do need to consider their funding source."

Upon due consideration, Bloodworth renamed the session "Suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations." But he is not happy.
What's even worse is the way SAMHSA is trying to spin this so that they come out as the victims:
"It is incredible, the venom from these people," said Mark Weber, a spokesman for [SAMHSA].

"My boss is being called a Nazi," Weber said, referring to SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, whom President Bush appointed in 2001 to run the $3.2 billion agency.
Um, venom? Maybe people are just angry at the way prejudice and absurd squeamishness are marginalizing valuable knowledge that could actually, you know, prevent suicides. So much for the "culture of life."

2 Comments:

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