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GLBT suicide
prevention workshop barred from using word gay

GLBT suicide
prevention workshop barred from using word gay

Some Oregon mental health professionals are enraged because the organizers of a gay suicide prevention program were asked by the U.S. government to delete references to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the event's title. The workshop's title is now "Suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations" instead of "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals." Organizers say they were asked to remove the words by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, which is funding the February 28 workshop in Portland. The controversy has promoted a flood of e-mails to the office of Charles Curie, the administrator of the federal agency. "Charlie is getting e-mails calling him a Nazi," said Mark Weber, the agency's communications director. "It is disgraceful the hate that these people have sent to him." Weber explained that an agency project manager had suggested that the phrase sexual orientation would be more inclusive than the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. They passed on that suggestion to the Newton, Mass.-based Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which contracts with the agency to stage conferences. Soon after, the Portland workshop presenters said they were asked by the resource center to remove the offending words. But they decided the words sexual orientation weren't specific enough, so they reluctantly went with vulnerable populations. "This has become a political football," said Reid Vanderburgh of Portland, one of the workshop presenters and a psychologist who treats transgender men and women. Ron Bloodworth, a former coordinator of youth suicide prevention for Oregon and one of three specialists leading the session, was not happy about the change. "We find this behavior on the part of our government intolerable," he wrote in an e-mail to colleagues, in which he called upon the government to "end this shameful marginalization of an already marginalized at-risk population." (From Advocate.com wire services)

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