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Thursday, February 17, 2005

SAMHSA Suicide Prevention: no gay, lesbian, bi or transgender

From David Byrom, Ph.D.,
President The National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers, Inc.

Hello colleagues and friends,
Recently, I was asked to help present a workshop on suicide prevention among GLBT individuals, at the third in a series of five regional conferences on suicide prevention in the U.S. This particular conference covers Public Health Regions 9 and 10 (basically, the entire west coast). Following is a statement my co-presenters and I have prepared outlining recent chilling events surrounding our workshop. One interesting thing to note is the two previous conferences, one in New Orleans and the other in Denver, contained workshops very similar to ours and were not a problem. The difference? Both were held PRIOR to the last election.

We give permission to forward this to whoever you believe needs to read it:

Please distribute as widely as possible:

Statement of Concern and Protest

Government funders within the Bush Administration at SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) notified the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) that SAMHSA Administrator, Charles Curie, would not be allowed to attend a SPRC regional conference on suicide prevention if conference organizers went forward with a workshop title that included the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. The conference is scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon, February 28-March 2. The original title of the workshop was "Suicide Prevention Among Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender Individuals."

On January 31, Lloyd Potter, SPRC Center Director, contacted workshop presenters Ron Bloodworth, Joyce Liljeholm and Reid Vanderburgh and requested that we come up with alternative wording for the workshop so that the words "gay","lesbian","bisexual", or "transgender" did not appear in the workshop title or descriptor.

We worked with SPRC to create alternative wording so that the workshop could continue to be offered but we expressed deep concern about government intrusion to remove any reference to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the workshop title and descriptor. After agreeing to the title "suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations", we were told that the new title would be acceptable to SAMHSA and that we could use the term "sexual orientation" in the workshop descriptor but that the term "gender identity" would "not fly with SAMHSA."

We are still planning to offer the workshop as originally planned even though the workshop title and descriptor had to be changed but we will not be quiet about the heavy handed efforts of SAMSHA to render gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender people invisible. The action of our government in this regard is the very reason a workshop on suicide prevention with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender individuals is needed. How ironic! The discriminatory and intimidating actions of SAMHSA and the Bush administration should not go unchallenged and should be of concern to all Americans.


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6:47 pm  

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