Showing posts with label Suicide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suicide. Show all posts

Friday, January 21, 2011

Catholic Church Unveils 12-Step Program for Homosexual Addiction and So Much More

     It was really only a matter of time.  When I was a priest/seminarian, I was formed to believe that my (homo)sexuality was an addiction and prescribed so many "more natural" ways to "deal with" my "depraved" nature that was a "gift" from a loving god.

     The Catholic Diocese in Colorado Springs has adopted a 12-step program that offers "support" for homosexuals.  Despite striking similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous's 12-step program for recovering addicts, proponents claim that the program is less about therapy than it is about support for people experiencing homosexual thoughts that they consider "a burden."
     Sure it is.  And it has nothing to do with a closeted clergy projecting their own crap onto the rest of the world.

     Here are the actual Twelve Steps as reported in The Huffington Post via The Gazette (and my comments):

      1. We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable.

     When I was parked at the edge of a frozen river with the plan of driving on the ice until it broke and I died, I admitted that I was powerless against Catholicism.

     2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

     So, I guess, those of us who are out of the closet are obviously insane.  

     3.  We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Clarification: as Holy Disfunctional Mother church taught us to understand "Him" [sic].

     4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

     As a gay Catholic, my greatest was going to hell because god made me gay.  

     5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

     Exact nature?  According to Catholic teachings, their god makes people gay.  How can one's exact god-given nature be wrong?  Unless your god's a vindictive ass hole.

     6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character.


     7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

     Pray away the gay.  And you'll soon discover that nothing fails like prayer.

     8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.

     Someone, who claims to have been injured by someone else's homosexuality, is the person who needs to be making amends for their bigotry.

     9. We made the direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

     I'm still waiting for Father Mustache and those who covered his tracks to apologize.  But maybe their apology would hurt me too much.

     10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

     Yes, just as Pope Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope, has promptly admitted his wrongdoings in the sexual abuse scandals.

     11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of God's Will for us and the power to carry it out.

     "Conscious contact"?  I guess that is in opposition to the unconscious contact that being gay implies.  

     12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

     So I guess that makes Rev. Larry Brennan, diocesan director of priest formation, who defended this program to the paper a liar, for The Gazette quoted him: “It’s not about therapy and not about activism.”  Yes, and the Catholic money, DVDs, and pamphlets that support the suppression of gay rights is totally not about activism either.

     And for those of you who just can't stop harping about the penile focus of the Catholic Church , don't worry.  The Gazette reports:
     A 12-step program for lesbians may also be created if there is demand for it, Brennan said.
    Fight on, my feminist lesbian sisters! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

South Carolina LGBT Youth Are Bullied at Twice the National Average

     Q Notes reports:
     South Carolina Equality, the Palmetto State’s LGBT education and political advocacy organization, has released a landmark survey of 1,000 LGBT residents. The survey exposes several needs and challenges currently facing the state’s estimated 117,000 LGBT citizens, advocates say, particularly among LGBT youth in the state’s public schools.
     Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents indicated they’d experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination in South Carolina’s public education.
     “The survey clearly shows that S.C.’s gay and transgender youth experience more than twice the average amount of bullying and harassment,” SC Equality Director Christine Johnson said in a release. “2010 saw a rash of teen suicides as a direct result of bullying. We should be more motivated than ever to enact legislation that promotes safe learning environments for all our children. We look to our elected officials to lead the charge against bullying.”
     The results of the survey are being distributed to all Palmetto State elected officials, including those in the legislature and the governor’s office.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dan Savage on Sex, Religion, Bullying & His Catholic Seminary Experience

     If you don't have time for the whole interview, the first four minutes covers Savage's Catholic seminary experience, his moving beyond the beliefs and shame of that faith, and an incredibly honest priest (there are some) that surprised him when he came out.  Also, around minute twenty the conversation again turns to religion, including biblical violence against homosexuals.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Tragic Gay Suicide

     The Advocate reports:
     A 26-year-old gay youth activist who worked with HIV/AIDS charities in New York and graduated from the Harvey Milk High School committed suicide over the weekend.
     Rod 2.0 spoke with friends and colleagues of gay youth activist and HIV peer educator Joseph Jefferson. "Joseph was truly a sweetheart," a friend who asked to remain nameless said. "Extremely bright and impassioned about social justice causes... It's such a loss."
     On Saturday, Jefferson posted on his Facebook page: "I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called ’social mainstream.’"

Friday, October 22, 2010

President Obama's Hypocritical "It Gets Better Video" on LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides

     The AP reports:
     President Barack Obama said he was "shocked and saddened" by the recent suicides of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay.  "As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It's something that just shouldn't happen in this country," Obama said in a video posted late Thursday on YouTube and the White House website.  It's time, he said, for Americans to dispel the myth that bullying is "just a normal rite of passage."
     "I don't know what it's like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it's like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don't belong," Obama said. "It's tough."  The victims of bullying can sometimes feel that they are responsible for the taunting because they're different or don't fit in with everybody else.  "But what I want to say is this: You are not alone. You didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything to deserve being bullied," Obama said.
     But, if you are gay, the Commander in Chief will fire you from serving in the U.S. military because you did nothing wrong.  Your love and your commitment aren't worthy of equal protection under the civil marriage laws supported by President Obama.  
"I'd kiss you, but you're gay."
    Here are the final words of the LGBT community's self-proclaimed fierce advocate's message to bullied children with my words in parentheses.  The full transcript is available by clicking here.
     The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. (When you are able to get someone in office that will stand up for equal rights for gays, lesbians and transgender persons.) And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. (But not equal rights.)  You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. (And you won't vote for me 2012.)  And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.  (For straight Christians, like me.)
     It will mean that you’ll be more likely to help fight discrimination – not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. (But I can't let the federal courts fight discrimination.  DOMA and DADT will remain in effect until a minority of homophobic senators and Jesus accept your "lifestyle choice," which is how my staff continues to talk about you in public, because you chose to be gay.)  It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. (But your loving commitments are not equal to ours; but we respect them, such as they are.)  That we are able to see the world through other people’s eyes and stand in their shoes (Which is was I did when I lied to Lt. Col. Victor J. Fehrenbach's face, telling him that I would end DADT and that his military career wouldn't end.)  – that we never lose sight of what binds us together.  (Our 2500-year-old Judeo-Christian homophobia.  Bishop Gene Robinson and others like him don't count.)
     As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal (But no joint federal tax filing for you.)  and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness  (Unless the majority votes yours away.); to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves (Like my parents who were an interracial couple that couldn't be married because a religious majority thought it was a sin.). That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about. And every day, it gets better.  (Except for on Wednesday and a week ago Tuesday, when my administration fought to preserve discrimination rather than decry it.)
     I think I can truly say, with all seriousness, that the hope I had in Candidate Obama, who was the first major presidential candidate that I ever heard include "straight and gay" in a line of adjectives describing the various parts of our nation of equals, has been killed by President Obama.  

     I appreciate him speaking out against the bullying of any child, but he is blind to the reality that his recent political actions have struck a major blow to the progress of civil rights.  Children see this.  They see his actions.  They hear the news.  They hear the homophobic political commercials and sermons.  They need a president who will act on his words to end all discrimination against same-sex couples and homosexual soldiers.

     President Obama's video should be titled "It Get's Better (But Not on My Watch)."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bishop Gene Robinson on the Connection between Religion and Bullying

     An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, "Guns Don't Kill People -- RELIGION Kills People!" In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
     Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it's hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish...
     These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It's time for "tolerant" religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.
     For the entire article click here.

     Thanks to Russ at Blue Truck, Red State for the lead on the article.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New York Yankees Fans Bully Others with Homophobic "Y.M.C.A." Parody

     There is something incredibly broken about a nation that protects this kind of speech.  
     In the video "Homophobia Literally Kills: Yankees Game" which is posted below, a group of New York Yankees fans surrounds a fans from the opposing team and shout a hate-filled homophobic parody of the Village People's "Y.M.C.A." at the men.  You can hear the bullies' friends giggling in the background.

     Yankees fans routinely sing a version of "Y.M.C.A." to fans of opposing teams during their ballgames that demonizes gay people. These are clips from other YouTube videos over the past few years that show Yankees fans in action singing this homophobic songs at opposing fans. As NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has said, "homophobia literally kills", and it is this kind of homophobia that leads to anti-gay bullying and harassment at our schools and LGBT teenagers to commit suicide.
     The site After Elton explains that as of yesterday there were still some Yankees' fans continuing this "tradition" of homo-berating the opposing teams fans:
     Earlier today we posted a video of New York Yankee fans singing a shockingly homophobic version of "Y.M.C.A." A short time ago I spoke with a spokesman for the Yankees who told me that video was from four years ago and that the Bleacher Creatures (a group of fans seated in a specific section of Yankee Stadium) had been told that homophobic lyrics would not be tolerated.
     That turns to be true and not true. While the most virulently anti-gay version of that song is no longer being performed by most fans in Section 203 , the Bleacher Creatures clearly still don't get what is offensive about their antics because they have numerous videos posted of themselves from as recently as several weeks ago singing "Y.M.C.A." with the lyrics changed to "Y. R. U. Gay?" as a way to denigrate fans of opposing teams.
     This is a perfect example of the "trickle-down homophobia" explained by Kathy Griffin.  When adults engage in blatant anti-gay activity, children learn that it's okay to violently pick on people different from themselves.  Children see.  And learn.  Some of them take to the streets of the Bronx and kill.

     I'm curious to know when this Yankees' "tradition" began in relation to the wave of HIV/AIDS death's that decimated New York's population of gay men.  Really, it doesn't matter.  The fact that this taunt is still being performed and posted online (by bragging Yankees fans) is an front to every gay man who has died of AIDS.  Shame on the Yankee's organization.  Unless, I see some spectacular mea culpas, I'm done rooting for them.

     In a previous post, I said "Bullying doesn't end after high school.  It becomes free speech."

     Here's the proof:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns' Impassioned Speech on LGBT-Bullying-Related Teen Suicides

     Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns spoke last night about the recent string of LGBT-bullying related suicides.  He makes an impassioned plea to children considering suicide to not give up on life and then to parents and adults to make a difference and end the hate and the bullying.

     His impassioned speech is worth watching in whole.  (It brought me to tears.)  

     Just hold on. It really does get better.
     That's the message Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns shared in an emotional speech during Tuesday night's council meeting, saying his goal was to reach out to youths everywhere who are struggling with being gay.
     During a moving speech, Burns said it tears him up each time he hears about youths taking their own lives somewhere in America after being bullied because of their sexuality or simply struggling with it.
     Burns, who is gay, said he'd like to give his 13-year-old self -- who also struggled with being gay -- glimpses into the future.
     His younger version would see him meeting his partner, being loved by his parents, winning a City Council election, Burns said.
     "High school was difficult, coming out was painful," he said. "I want to tell any teen who is watching this, life will get better. ... Life will get so, so, so much better."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Tragic LGBT-Bullying Related Suicide: Zach Harrington, 19, of Norman

     There has been another tragic suicide of a teenager, who was bullied for being gay.  Zach Harrington killed himself a week after witnessing a "toxic" city council meeting in Norman, Oklahoma, where "concerned citizens" gathered en masse to hurl their hatred and homophobia, decrying LGBT persons as deviant, sinful, damned, etc. etc. etc.

     Here are some links to the story:

     The Norman Transcript: local new report of Zach's death and the fall-out of the council meeting.

     Qweerty: this post contains the video and partial transcript of the "toxic" council meeting.

     Zach's memorial page

     Rest in peace, Zach.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mormon Update: Boyd Packer's Homophobic Speech Redacted & Protest in Salt Lake

     Here are a few quick updates on the reaction to the LDS Boyd K. Packer's very homophobic and unscientific speech at the 180th General Conference last Sunday:
     The LDS has edited the speech changing Packer's description of homosexuality as a "temptation" to a "tendency" and cutting his question asking why his Mormon god would create people with an "impure" and "unnatural" "pre-set" homosexuality.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports upon these changes here.  This is one response: 
     “It leaves it out there like this is a temptation, like this is something one can choose,” said Watts, a Provo father of six grown children, including a gay son and a lesbian daughter. “They’re trying to edit it and soften it and make it better, but it’s not going to work. [The speech has] gone viral. Everyone knows what he said.”  Packer and the church should have gone further in their subsequent statements, Watts argued. “It would be nice to have the church apologize and say they’re editing it because they’ve recognized that it’s caused a tremendous amount of hurt and discomfort,” he said. “I know many leaders of our church know that homosexuality is experienced honestly and involuntarily and is not amenable to significant change. I’m disappointed they don’t speak out.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Education Policy Center Addresses LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides

     In reponse to the recent LGBT-bullying-related teen suicides, the National Education Policy Center has released a document entitled "Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation."   Kudos to co-authors Stuart Biegel and Sheila James Kuehl, and also to the UCLA Williams Institute and Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, who supported the document's creation..


     The Washington Post listed these summary points from the document:
Below, I [Kevin Welner, director of NEPC] summarize the brief, but I hope readers will click through and read the whole thing. It’s available online at http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/safe-at-school.
The brief documents, among other things:
• Recurring examples of traumatic peer mistreatment, often with faculty complicity.
• The resulting harm to the academic achievement and aspirations of LGBT students.
• Lives lost, both directly through assaults and indirectly through suicide.
The brief also presents evidence of structural and institutional failures such as:
• Failure to recognize that LGBT educators can play valuable, positive roles.
• Failure to address the persistent overt homophobia in many school sports programs.
• Misuse of the special education system, which further exacerbates LGBT mistreatment.
• Minimal coverage of LGBT issues in many teacher-education and professional development programs.
The recommendations from Biegel and Kuehl include:
• Adopt proactive school climate initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to inclusive policies and shared values within our pluralistic society.
• End discriminatory disciplinary practices and the inappropriate referral of LGBT students to special education.
• Implement LGBT-specific programs or activities at individual school sites, which may include safe zones, gay-straight alliances, and suicide prevention programs.
• Develop and implement LGBT-related professional development, locally determined and agreed upon by faculty and staff, for all school-site personnel.
• Align classroom pedagogy with shared values and respect for differences.
• Include age-appropriate LGBT-related content in the curriculum.
• Involve key members of campus athletic programs in LGBT-related initiatives.
• Make it clear that homophobic comments and actions by coaches and student athletes are completely unacceptable.
• Encourage student athletes to participate in targeted programs such as initiatives addressing bullying and hate violence, as well as gay-straight alliances, safe zones, and wellness programs.

HRC Protest Letter to Homophobic Mormon Church Leader

     In the wake of the recent wave of LGBT-bullying-related suicides, the Mormon Church is not letting up.  Religious leaders continue their hateful preaching against LGBT persons, which include countless children some of whom see no other way to reconcile their lives than to kill themselves.  

     Many of us are familiar with the struggle that so many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens face. Anti-LGBT bullying in schools is out of control and has led to a number of recent teen suicides.
     Yet a top Mormon Church apostle has chosen this precise moment to broadcast a message of intolerance to millions.
     Boyd K. Packer, the second-highest Mormon leader, said same-sex attraction is "impure and unnatural" and can be overcome, and that same-sex unions are morally wrong and "against God's law and nature."
     Please add your name to our open letter showing the Mormon Church hierarchy that it has risked further alienating vulnerable LGBT youth with potentially devastating consequences – and after you sign the letter, please post it on Facebook and share it with your friends so people everywhere know that these views are scientifically wrong and misguided.
     Here's the text of the letter:
Dear Mr. Packer, 
I'm appalled that you chose this moment to deliver a sermon saying same-sex attraction is unnatural and same-sex unions are immoral. You have risked further alienating LGBT youth and potentially contributing to suicides of even more vulnerable young people. You've told them that their very identities are "impure and unnatural" and you've incited the violence and bullying that often drives them to suicide by repeating lies disproven by both science and the experience of millions of Americans who know their LGBT neighbors and care about them.
I hope you will cease putting young people in real peril and acknowledge the scientific truth: sexual orientation cannot be changed, nor should it be.
     Click here to sign the letter.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ellen DeGeneres Responds to LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides. My Take on Where Kids Get This Stuff

     In the past month, there were four teen suicides related to bullying because the teens were or appeared to be homosexual.

     It's starting even younger. An eleven-year-old boy had his arm broken by two other boys because he was a cheerleader.  People wonder where children learn to do such hateful things.  They learn from adults.

     Bullying doesn't stop after high school.  It becomes free speech

     Here's a tweet that rapper 50cent recently posted.

     Don't forget Senator Saxby Chambliss' staffer posting a comment on Joe.My.God saying "All [gays] must die."  (Don't forget the sleazy lies that got good Christian Saxby elected in the first place.)

     Watch the political commercials coming from the Right. They attack gay rights and paint us as sinners, enemies of the family, and less than human. 

     The Catholic Church in Iowa and Minnesota is disseminating flyers and DVDs calling for votes to ban same sex couple's civil marriages. The Tea Party/Republican candidates and senators are campaigning against and/or filibustering gay rights legislation.

    Children see. They learn.

Here's is Ellen DeGeneres' response to recent LGBT-bullying-related suicides.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Bully-Induced Gay Teen Suicide: Justin Aaberg, 15

     The hateful bullies of LGBT students have claimed another victim.  Justin Aaberg, 15, of Anoka, Minnesota, hanged himself after being bullied at school.  Sadly, he's not alone
Image via WCCO
     His mother Tammy Aaberg has taken up the fight to challenge the school system on its anti-bullying policy.  

     Watch the video report here.  It's very moving, but unfortunately can't be embedded.

     In the weeks since she found her son dead in his room on July 9, Tammy Aaberg has heard from many of her son's friends at Anoka High School. They told her Justin Aaberg had been bullied and had recently broken up with his boyfriend.
     Those same students also opened up about their own experiences, telling her they feel harassed and unsafe as gay and lesbian students.
     "These kids, they just hate themselves. They literally feel like they want to die. So many kids are telling me this," said Tammy Aaberg, fighting tears.
     She spoke up at a recent Anoka-Hennepin School Board meeting about the district's sexual orientation curriculum policy which states, in part, "Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations."
     "I'm asking you all to rewrite the policy in order to give teachers training in how to be more sensitive to GLBT students," Tammy Aaberg told the School Board on Aug. 23.
     After Tammy Aaberg spoke, two other recent graduates spoke too. One was a lesbian student who asked not to be identified.  "If you have students feeling like they're isolated, like they have no one to turn to, and then they fill with self-hatred, are we surprised that we're having suicides in the district by GLBT students? Something needs to happen," said the graduate.
     That student and a teacher, who also asked not to be identified, believe three of the five suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin District last year were because of struggles with sexual identity. They say name-calling and bullying happen often in the district because teachers and students don't stand up to it.
     Sadly, we live in a nation where bullying LGBT persons at the ballot box and in political campaigns is status quo.  Take for example New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino, who is running on the promise "to take out a culture, to bring that culture down once and for all" and "to take on the demons."  We live in 2010, yet talk of those who are different as "demons" is still acceptable in political debate.

     The bullying needs to end.

     Hopefully, Tammy Aaburg's pleas to her deceased son's school system will be heard and a few more children will learn the truly American values of tolerance and equality.  And hopefully, lives will be saved.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Belgian Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, Suicide, Admissions, and Disappearances

     The Roman Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Belgium is not slowing down.  Here are some quick updates of what happened this week.

    A Belgian commission looking into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy says it has received testimony from hundreds of victims.  The commission's chairman Peter Adriaenssens said 488 witnesses came forward, most of them after the April resignation of a bishop for sexual abuse set off a deep crisis within the Belgian church.  A report by the commission lists in great detail how victims say they were abused by clergy, and lists one witness as saying it started as young as two.
     A Belgian Catholic Church-backed commission Friday published a report revealing hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by clergy and church workers, and 13 suicides by abuse victims...It noted that one fact in particular showed "the extent of the negative effects: the high number of suicides," the report said.  The commission received 13 reports in which "the person concerned died by suicide and this in relation to sexual abuse by a cleric," it said, adding that another six victims said they had attempted suicide.
     The former head of Belgium's Roman Catholic Church has admitted he made mistakes in dealing with a case of sexual abuse and should have demanded the resignation of the bishop involved.  In interviews published in newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and La Libre Belgique and the weekly magazine Knack on Wednesday, Cardinal Godfried Danneels described his failure to urge the bishop to go as his "most serious error of judgment."
     "Up until today I have the feeling that I had stepped into a trap. Call it naivete. You can make all sorts of assumptions about the intentions of Roger Vangheluwe. But the error of assessment was mine," Danneels said.
     The former Belgian bishop who resigned in April after admitting he sexually abused a nephew for years said Saturday he would go into hiding to assess his future, despite calls for him to leave the church immediately.  Roger Vangheluwe said in a statement he would immediately leave an abbey in his bishopry of Bruges, where he has been staying since his April 23 resignation. His bishopry has urged him to seek another place to live, and several victims of sexual abuse by clergy as well as a prominent senator have called on him to leave the church as an institution.  Vangheluwe gave no response to the calls for him to step out of priesthood, but said that "as of today, I will contemplate my life and future somewhere hidden, outside the bishopry of Bruges."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Diocese of Pittsburgh Sued After Man Abused by a Priest Commits Suicide

     The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
     The family of a former Etna man said today that he committed suicide earlier this year after the Diocese of Pittsburgh reneged on a promise to continue psychiatric treatment he needed to overcome the trauma of sexual abuse by a priest 25 years ago.
     Michael R. Unglo, 39, took his own life May 4 while a patient at at Austen Riggs Hospital in Massachusetts.
     "He paid the ultimate price for being sexually abused as a child by a priest," said Alan H. Perer, who filed suit on behalf of the Unglo estate.
     Click here for the remainder of the article.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Catholic Church in Nebraska Advocating for Counselors to Refuse Treatment to Gays

     The Catholic Church in Nebraska is lobbying for the state's licensed counselors to be able to drop LGBT patients/clients if the counselor holds religious beliefs disapproving of their client's sexual orientation.

     The Freemont Tribune reports (my comments interspersed):
     Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, says psychologists, therapists and other licensed counselors should be able to refuse to treat or refer clients because of religious or moral convictions. But, he says, the proposed addition of sexual orientation to anti-discrimination rules makes it unclear whether that's allowed.  "Our concern had to do with services that we would not be able to provide because they would promote or enhance or validate conduct that is contrary to our religious beliefs," Cunningham said.
     Will those patients who've been divorced, do drugs, are alcoholic, used birth control, supported the death penalty, or committed any sin of the eyes of morally superior Catholic "counselors" also be dropped ?  And what of those living together before marriage, or having sex before marriage, or even masturbating?  What about those who don't go to Mass every Sunday?  Where does it end?  Does a client have to share and adhere to every religious belief of their counselor in order to be helped?  Will those priests who raped children be counseled by Catholic therapists?  Is not child-rape against Catholic teaching?

     All the pastoral counseling training that I had, in Catholic seminary and Clinical Pastoral Education, taught me that a counselor's role is to be present to the patient, to help the patient to feel understood, and to work with and enable the patient to find solutions that work for them.  The counseling relationship is not about what the counselor needs to justify his/her own religious or political philosophy.  That is called countertranference and is a violation of a patient's dignity, trust, boundaries, and well being. 

     But those with the decision making power in Nebraska are leaning towards a compromise which allows  Catholic counselors to drop clients if they refer them.
    Nebraska's top medical officer, Dr. Joann Schaefer, is pushing three state credentialing boards to allow counselors to refer patients elsewhere without concern for the controversial issue _ what's called a whole-patient referral. That would mean a counselor with a moral or religious objection would have to find a referral for the patient, although it wouldn't have to be the most appropriate one.  "It's what I feel is the fairest to the patient," Schaefer said.
     Fair to the patient?  It's all about the counselor?

     Catholic counselor: "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones, that you are suicidally depressed, that your family has rejected you, that your church has rejected you, and that you have been fired because you are gay, but now that I know the truth about you, I can no longer serve you.  Here's a referral to someone who will treat your kind.  Good-bye."

     And, Mr. Jones walks out the door.  Unable to take one more rejection, he steps in front of a bus.  

     Yes, that's definitely for the betterment of the client
     But Schaefer's suggestion _ a compromise she says is based on discussions with the boards and others _ has drawn the ire of several professional associations. They say whole-patient referrals would violate their code of ethics.  "We believe that a therapist has the right to refuse service based upon religious or moral convictions," said Terry Werner, director of the Nebraska chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. "However, they absolutely must provide a thorough and comprehensive referral. Anything less than that, in our minds, is in violation of our code of ethics and is not in the best interest of the client."
     I find this discrimination completely asinine.  What's next, will Catholic counselors and others, who want to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs, put signs in their windows that say "No Gays Served" or "Heterosexuals Only."  

     The only good that would come of this discrimination is that LGBT persons will no longer be subjected to the damaging ex-gay therapy that many counselors project onto their struggling patients.

     I once had a Catholic therapist, who was highly recommended by my diocesan superior, counsel me to "recover my lost heterosexuality."  He claimed that being sexually abused by the pediatrician during puberty was what caused me to become gay.  The doctor had infected me with the gay.  This counselor downplayed the fact that all my sexual attractions, from as long as I could remember all the way back to preschool age, were to other males and that my entire life's history of sexual fantasies and wet dreams were about males.

     At twenty-three,  this therapist "counseled" me to recall possible attractions that I had to girls when I was in preschool and grade school.  He told me to force myself to think about these attractions and try to recover them when I masturbated.  And they wonder why there's a priest-pedophile sexual abuse scandal?   
*Bump to Towleroad on the story lead.