(Washington) The Bush administration has told a federally funded conference on LGBT suicide to remove the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "transgender" from its material.
The conference will be held Feb. 28 in Portland, Ore., and was organized by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center of Newton, Mass with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
It was originally titled "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals."
But the SAMHSA balked at the name according to the Washington Post. The request to change the name came from SAMHSA project manager Brenda Bruun who suggested the organizers use "sexual orientation" the Post reports.
One of the three specialist who will lead the meeting says that "sexual orientation" is inadequate.
"Everyone has a sexual orientation," Ron Bloodworth told the Post. "But this was about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders."
In addition, he said that trans people differ from others in terms of sexual identity, not sexual orientation.
"Unless you use an accurate term, the people you are trying to reach don't recognize themselves and don't attend," he told the paper, adding that the agency told him he should not use "gender identity."
Bloodworth is a former coordinator of youth suicide prevention for Oregon.
Studies show that LGBT suicide rates are three times higher than the national norm, with suicides among teens the highest.
But the name change was not the only thing the Administration called for. It also wanted a session on faith-based suicide prevention.
"We find this behavior on the part of our government intolerable," Bloodworth wrote in an e-mail to colleagues that called for the government to "end this shameful marginalization of an already marginalized at-risk population."
The pressure on conference organizers by the Administration was slammed by gay rights advocates.
"It is unconscionable for politics to get into the way of life and death health care gay LGBT young people," Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Steven Fisher told 365Gay.com..
SAMHSA says it has been flooded with complaints since word leaked out that the name of the conference was being changed.
"It is incredible, the venom from these people," said spokesperson Mark Weber who added that the name change was "only a suggestion".
But, when pressed by the Post about how strong a suggestion it was, Weber replied: "Well, they do need to consider their funding source."www.365gay.com/newscon05/02/021605suicide.htmE-mail this article