Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Elected Official or Bully?

Equality Florida’s email newsletter brought to my attention the actions of Representative D. Alan Hays, R. Umatilla , which prompted me to send this letter:

Honorable Representative Hays,

I have learned that three students, including Jessica Osborn attempted to speak with you regarding the anti-bullying bill, "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act." The bill is named for Cape Coral teenager who killed himself in 2005 after being bullied for years. Those taunts often included anti-gay insults and accusations. If passed, the law would define "bullying" and direct schools to set up clear rules for how to handle threatening behavior and provide training for teachers.

According to Jess Osborn: "After telling him my story he proceeded to say he was repulsed by homosexuals and we needed extensive psychological treatment."

Your actions, your verbal attack on students poignantly illustrates exactly why specific prohibitions of anti-gay harassment are needed. Your response is appalling, sir.

In 1986, the diagnosis of homosexuality was removed entirely from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed., Revised) commonly referred to as the DSM. The only vestige of ego dystonic homosexuality in the revised DSM-III occurred under Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified, which included persistent and marked distress about one's sexual orientation.

Your assertion that Jess Osborn needed “extensive psychological treatment” is both inaccurate, and bigoted. Inaccurate because there is no illness, and bigoted because you are apparently extremely narrow minded and unkind. Perhaps you might benefit from speaking with a mental health care provider about your persistent and marked distress about others’ sexual orientation.

I would hope you would publicly apologize to Jessica Osborn and the other students for your unkind and inaccurate remarks. No citizen should be subjected to such blatant cruelty from any adult, never mind an elected official such as yourself.



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