Don’t print ignorant views

To the editor:

In response to Marilyn Sager’s letter “Your worldview must include God.”

I am one of many LGBTQ kids who grew up–and are growing up–in the Copper Country. For years, admitting that seemed unthinkable, in large part due to the venomous letters to the editor preaching hatred in the name of someone else’s religion. Thankfully, I was born into a Christian family who love me unconditionally, but I was lucky.

For years, I have read these letters and laughed at their ignorance, but enough is enough. The words in these letters have consequences. They force the most vulnerable among us deeper into the shadows, where they are unable to ask for help for fear of rejection by their community. Their publication reaffirms to young people what society already tells them every day: that they are less than, and that the Gazette thinks this is a valid viewpoint.

The CDC reports that LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to die by suicide than their straight classmates, due to the bullying and homo/transphobia they experience on a daily basis. These statistics sadly include members of our own Copper Country community. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth are also 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than straight youth, largely due to being kicked out of their homes.

Ms. Sager’s letter closes by decrying the “evils” of Drag Queen Story Time, saying “The message is about diversity and the children are told it’s OK to be different,” as if this were a problem. The innumerable spaces the LGBTQ community has created for itself exist precisely for this reason. They exist because we have spent our lives being excluded from spaces, and we have had to create our own.

We are not — and have never been — asking for your approval. We are asking to live our lives free of your unsolicited opinions; for children like we were to grow up in a world where blind prejudice toward their very beings is not presented as one more valid opinion. It is unconscionable for the Gazette to keep publishing these missives alongside well-argued, factually accurate letters. They contribute to incalculable mental and physical harm to those targeted. Ms. Sager is entitled to whatever worldview she sees fit, with or without God. But I am equally entitled, constitutionally, to be protected from it. Drag Queen Story Time is voluntary. Exposure to hate speech is not.

Baird Campbell

Houston, Texas

Editor’s Note: Most every letter to the editor that is not a personal attack or libelous is a valid viewpoint in the square of public discourse and will be printed here, even the ones that offend your worldview, values and sensibilities to the point where you feel compelled to judge it “hate speech.” This Opinion Page will remain a safe place for freedom of expression of all viewpoints and opinions, secular and nonsecular, scientific and nonscientific, across the political spectrum — on that you can rely. Receiving criticism for allowing free expression only strengthens our resolve.