Letter to the editor: Story on LGBTQ+ issue needed more balance

The article about Tara Jentink and her views on parents’ rights was disturbing.

First, the content. She claims that Parents Rights in Education is not a hate group. The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as “an organization or collection of individuals that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. An organization does not need to have engaged in criminal conduct or have followed their speech with actual unlawful action to be labeled a hate group … Hate groups  vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity — prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.”

Parents Rights in Education does malign and vilify LGBTQ+ people.

Second, the article aired Jenks’s views for thirty column inches, in which her phrase “without parental knowledge or consent” was unnecessarily repeated three times. It devoted only nine column inches to an alternative viewpoint offered by Middlebury College professor Kevin Moss.

I hope that the Addison Independent will spend some time researching the effects of bias against LGBTQ+ and other youth and adults, talking to teachers in schools about what is really going on instead of taking at face value one person’s accusations, and interviewing or reading the work of doctors and psychologists who see the effects of prejudice on our young people. Then I hope you will publish an article about the issue based on that research. For example: The 2021 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among middle school students, “LGBTQ+ students are nearly three times as likely to experience poor mental health, including stress, anxiety and depression, most of the time or always during the past year compared to heterosexual cisgender students (42% vs 15%).” (Source: Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey.https://www.healthvermont.gov/stats/surveys/youth-risk-behavior-survey-yrbs)

As Moss said, the idea that accepting and honoring people who are different from the dominant culture is a threat to children is a long-used tactic that plays on people’s fears and is based in falsehoods. We must reject that tactic.

Ann Watson

New Haven

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