- Wrong Side Of History (dgsmith.org)
- Montana GOP legislators think homosexuality is a crime (watchdog.org)
- Being Gay or Lesbian Isn’t a Crime! It’s Time to Pass SB 107! (dgsmith.org)
Today, a groundbreaking piece in the Billings Gazette:
Getting through adolescence is hard enough.
There’s the agony of puberty, the mood swings and the withering self-consciousness. Then comes the clumsiness of emerging sexuality.
It can be overwhelming.
For some young people, the passage can be even more daunting. For a few Montana kids coming to terms with their attraction to the same gender — in a religious and rural culture that doesn’t always know what to make of them — the challenge can be deadly.
A 2009 survey of more than 7,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender middle and high school students aged 13 to 21 found that in the past year, at least eight of 10 students had been verbally harassed at school; four of 10 had been physically harassed; six of 10 felt unsafe at school; and one of five had been the victim of a physical assault, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
LGBT youth also are at far greater risk for suicide. A national study of adolescents in grades seven to 12 found that LGBT youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.
There is little specific research in Montana concerning how much of a role sexual orientation plays in youth suicides, said Karl Rosston, Montana’s suicide prevention coordinator. However, national studies have shown about 15 percent of youth who reported suicide attempts also reported same-sex attraction or relationships.
In Montana between 1999 and 2009, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24, behind unintentional injuries like auto and farm accidents.
In the two years between 2010 and 2011, at least 57 youth ages 15 to 24 killed themselves in Montana.
It’s difficult to figure the current number of gays and lesbians in Montana. However, according to a report from the Williams Institute, a national think tank at UCLA researching sexual orientation issues, there were 1,600 same-sex couples in Montana as of 2005, up from 1,200 in 2000. This number is almost certainly higher, especially since the study didn’t include youth. The number of male couples and female couples were nearly evenly split, with 806 men and 853 women.
About 2.6 percent of Montana’s population — around 26,000 people — is gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the report.
Teen suicide is a microcosm of what’s happening throughout the state, which has had one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation for more than 30 years. Consider that during 2010, at least 227 Montanans took their own lives. Another 225 people committed suicide in 2011.
D Gregory Smith, a Bozeman-based licensed mental health counselor and executive director of AIDS Outreach, counsels LGBT high school and college students, gay men and a handful of heterosexual men and women. He also counsels parents wondering if their child’s sexual preference can be changed, although he doesn’t believe that’s possible. He counsels parents on how they can better understand their child’s sexuality.
Most of his youth and young adult clients have contemplated suicide.
“Their biggest fear is believing they cannot have a good life,” said Smith, a former Catholic priest who is gay and HIV-positive. “They believe they cannot stay in Montana, be who they are and be happy.”
There’s so much more here: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/lgbt-youth-at-increased-risk-for-suicide/article_d7e8360a-f437-5ba6-8d03-8aeb2d67d701.html#ixzz2MVkAw1EE
From the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) comes a new pamphlet aimed at helping men who have sex with men (MSM) take charge of their sexual heath:
“Whether you are gay, bisexual or any man who has sex with other men (MSM), there are certain health services that are important for you to talk about with your doctor to protect your sexual health. This brief pamphlet is designed to help you get the best sexual health care during your visit to the doctor.”
An amazing array of helpful information about special health concerns and working with your healthcare provider.
View “For Men Only- Your Sexual Health” here.
The ACLU of MT needs your help to
make domestic partnerships a reality in Montana!
Real families with real stories
will help us convince the public that same-sex couples need
equal protection to safeguard our families in times of crisis.
For more information
read the ACLU memo below
or write to
ACLU of Montana LGBT Advocacy Coordinator Ninia Baehr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Montana, the state government offers legal protections to couples and families that help them care for one another. Right now, these protections are only available to couples who get married. This means that opposite-sex couples are eligible for the safeguards offered by the state, because they are able to marry. But loving, committed couples of the same sex are left without the protections they need to care for one another in times of crisis, and that’s not fair.
The Montana Constitution guarantees fair and equal treatment to all people. That’s why the ACLU of Montana is suing on behalf of same-sex couples who have been denied the ability to take care of each other and their families. In the lawsuit Donaldson and Guggenheim v. Montana, the plaintiffs are asking the state to create a domestic partnership registry that would grant them access to the safeguards that are currently only available through marriage. Here are a few of the ways the plaintiffs have been discriminated against:
Lawsuits like Donaldson and Guggenheim are important, but to win lasting fairness for gay and lesbian couples we need to convince not only the courts but also the general public that Montanans need domestic partnerships. Our public education campaign, Fair is Fair, highlights the real stories of real people who have been denied equal protection. We are looking for same-sex couples who are willing to share their stories about how they have been denied basic protections afforded to other families. We are especially interested in hearing from couples who have been denied one of the following rights:
The right to make medical decisions for their partner if s/he is incapable of doing so
Inheritance rights or the right to determine burial arrangements
The right to family medical or bereavement leave
Priority to become the court-appointed guardian for an incapacitated partner
Have you had experiences like these?
If so, please e-mail me at email@example.com or call (406) 579- 8884. ACLU staff will listen and talk with you to explore whether your story might be a good fit with the Fair is Fair campaign. We will keep your information confidential unless and until you feel comfortable telling your story publicly. For more information about the Fair is Fair campaign go to www.fairisfairmontana.org. And please do pass this on if you know a couple who might be interested. Don’t miss this opportunity to make your voice heard!
Montana Pride 2012 (full disclosure: I’m on the committee) and Wet Paint Studios are working to bring a quality film about Montana diversity to life.
But we need your help. Films are expensive to make- and every contribution is important. From their Indiegogo webpage:
The LGBTQI community is coming out of the woodwork. With political gains such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the Obama Administration’s affirmation of promoting equality for the LGBTQI community, more and more people are coming out and showing their true selves to the world.
And yet, in rural Montana, sometimes their only opportunity is at annually held Montana Pride. In a state of just a million people, ideas come in slowly. For some, Montana Pride, held annually in June, is what affirms themselves in the LGBTQI community, as well as the greater community.
“Outside The Lines” explores what it means to be an LGBTQI in Montana, and why pride is more than a weekend celebration in diversity. Using Montana Pride as our anchor, we plan on exploring how attitudes towards the LGBTQI community has changed in Montana, how Pride brings people together for a weekend of celebration, and how that celebration needs to carry on through everyday life.
Our filming will take place during Montana Pride, held in Bozeman once again June 15-17. We are also currently lining up interviews with prominent members of the gay community, such as leaders of PFLAG (Parents, Family, Friends, of Lesbians and Gays), representatives of our legal system, teachers, and activist college students.
Plus, every contribution over $10.00 gets a “perk”, including “Producer” credits. It’s an amazing opportunity- and I’ve already kicked in $50 bucks.
To see how you can be a producer, click here: http://www.indiegogo.com/montanapride2012