Excellent site, but could you take out the gay stuff?

Dear Alice,

You have an excellent site ... I think that there is a lot of information that would be useful for high school students ... BUT (there had to be a "but") ... as webmaster for our district, I would get hung if I posted a site that had the type of lesbian and homosexual postings that you have. It would be nice if you could have a high school main page ... if the above mentioned links weren't displayed. I think it would help a lot of schools.

thanks, Jim

Dear Jim,

There's a long history of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and other non-cisgender and non-heterosexual identities) exclusion and censorship both in and out of the classroom. In a world that targets and delegitimizes the existence of LBGTQ+ communities, Go Ask Alice! is committed to providing a space where queer youth can see themselves reflected in the questions and find pertinent health information. By reading questions sent in by other Go Ask Alice! readers and seeing that their own feelings and questions are echoed, young people who identify as LGBTQ+ can say, "if so many people share my joys, fears, and fantasies, then I must be much more 'normal' than I thought." For these reasons alone, Go Ask Alice! will continue to post LGBTQ+-related Q&As from and for young folx, and from and for many others. To exclude this content would deny the identities of an entire group of people and would be antithetical to Go Ask Alice!'s aim of providing reliable, nonjudgmental, and inclusive health information for all readers.

It's critical to ensure that reliable health information and resources exist and be accessible by LGBTQ+ folx because people in the LGBTQ+ community often face many health disparities that their cisgender straight counterparts don't. LGBTQ+ youth may face verbal and physical abuse from their peers, whether they're out or suspected of being queer. Further, they're more likely to be homeless than other teens, often due to family rejection. It's ironic that you mentioned death, as one of the health disparities they experience is increased rates of attempted and completed suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. On top of all these health crises in queer communities, LGBTQ+ people experience barriers to accessing quality health care, including bias and lack of training amongst health care providers. Many of the individuals who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum have other intersecting identities, such as having a disability, being a racial minority, or being low income, and these factors can further amplify the risk for negative health outcomes and harmful treatment from peers, parents, and health care providers. In efforts to work towards health equity, Go Ask Alice! has made a commitment to answer questions regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality, religion, ability, or any other identity trait. By providing information about all groups, this site works to do its part in reducing barriers to access for information, especially for those who may not frequently have information that speaks to their concerns and interests.

The research points to inclusion as a pathway towards acceptance and greater well-being in LGBTQ+ communities. Representation in the media has been shown to have a positive effect on attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals and on LGBTQ+ folx themselves. Another study showed that for transgender people, a feeling of community and belonging correlates with higher self-esteem and better mental health outcomes.  

It's great that you enjoy the site, and many schools do in fact link to Go Ask Alice! as a health resource. That being said, erasing the LGBTQ+ content would shut out a huge number of readers. It would also say loud and clear to readers that Go Ask Alice! doesn't value or legitimize the concerns of queer readers, which doesn't align with the values or aim of this resource. Further, in reality, many students at your own school may identify as queer, even if they don't do so openly. Providing a resource with these questions included ensures you're providing equal access to information as their non-queer peers. Hopefully, you can share this response with those who may oppose you if you decide to post this site for your students. Having this health resource not only provides an opportunity for students to learn, but it also shows that LGBTQ+ students are equally valued in your community.

Last updated Oct 11, 2019
Originally published Mar 26, 1999

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