UPDATE: SC GSA Post Generates Heated Debate — Staff Weighs In

Last Thursday, May 22, Family Equality Council Blog Contributor
Jeff Bennett posted about the high school
principal in South Carolina who resigned in protest
of a
developing gay-straight alliance. I have a personal connection to
this story. I grew up about an hour south of Columbia, South
Carolina, where the school in question, Irmo High, is located. I
have a number of friends who attended Irmo. I even went to a band
competition on their campus.

Some of these friends were gay; most were
They, like I, could have greatly benefited from
a gay-straight alliance, but when I went to high school — not too
long ago — gay-straight alliances were virtually unheard of, at
least in my neck of the woods.

The Family Equality Council Blog tends to be fairly quiet as far as
the comments are concerned, so you can imagine my surprise when I
found 25
listed this morning on Jeff’s post. It seems
that someone who stands in opposition to much of what our LGBTQ
family community holds dear, like respect for diverse families and
recognition for the love and equal value our families hold, has
decided to engage in debate with some of our readers about the
legitimacy of our identities and our very families.


We here at Family Equality Council pride ourselves on
providing a fairly open space on the blog for folks to share
opinions, talk about issues, trade personal stories, etc.

We do, however, reserve the right, as all blog owners do, to
moderate comments and remove offensive content from the site. We
have a high threshold for “offensive,” because we believe that the
LGBTQ parents and allies who read this blog have the ability and
know-how to respond to misinformed attacks on our persons, our
families and our community as a whole.

That said, there’s been a fair amount of discussion in the comments
to the SC GSA
about what it takes to have a real open dialogue. As a
staff member, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on this and
encourage others to contact David
, our eCommunications Coordinator, if they have their


“Steven Hendley,” the given name for the “opposed to family
equality” commenter, responded to another commenter’s call for him
to “go away” by saying that there’s nothing “equal” about a public
space (like this blog) when people with dissenting opinions are
asked to leave. In general, that is true, and other commenters have
welcomed the opportunity to respond to the things “Steven” has

I’ll say, however, that this blog is a limited public
, in the sense that it’s more geared towards a
specific community — LGBTQ parents and their allies — than it is
at the general blog-reading public.

We want this to be a place for spirited debate. We
also want this to be a place where our primary readers,
constituents and supporters can feel safe and
Our responsibility as an organization is to the
LGBTQ parents who look to us for resources and aid in protecting
their families from the real threats they daily face. If these
people — our people — begin to see this blog as a place
where misinformation and negativity will be spread about them and
their families, then they will no longer want to visit it as a
resource and a place to share.

Real open dialogue, in my estimation, requires folks to
engage with each other on
commonly agreed upon
I feel that some of our regular commenters who have
participated in this thread with “Steven” have attempted to create
those terms, emphasizing that when “citizen” engages with “citizen”
in a discussion about policy (in this instance, marriage equality)
the terms should be about civil rights, constitutions, legality,
equal protection and all those terms we all know and live by.

In other words, one’s religious views are not central to this kind
of conversation or debate. Certainly religious views inform all
religious people’s opinions on public matters, LGBTQ or not, and
especially on issues that so greatly relate to our very personal
lives (e.g. access to marriage).

But religious beliefs are not and should not determine the outcomes
of these conversations.


“Steven” makes a number of assertions that border on the factual,
implying over and over again, for instance, that LGBTQ people are
vastly more predisposed to child sex abuse than heterosexual adults
are. In situations where such (false) claims are
made and no reader responds, Family Equality Council staff will
most likely remove or respond to the assertion, so that it doesn’t
stand on our blog as an uncontested fact when we know it’s not

However, we do encourage our active and capable readers and
supporters to respond to these claims first.
You know just
as well as we do that LGBTQ parents are strikingly similar to
non-LGBTQ parents, that LGBTQ parents spend most of their time
thinking about protecting and nurturing children, and no time
thinking about violating a child. Tell the “Steven”s of the world
about the reality of your lives.

Incidentally, researchers from the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center published a peer-reviewed article in the widely
respected journal Pediatrics in 1994 on the issue of adult
homosexuality and child molestation. Conclusions drawn from their
study estimate that 96%-100% of child sex abusers are
This information is widely cited and
endorsed by organizations such as the Wisconsin
Coalition Against Sexual Assault
, which is not an
LGBTQ-specific organization and which aims “to create the social
change necessary to ensure a future where no child, woman or man is
ever sexually violated again.” (The data on the heterosexuality
of child sex abusers can be found in
PEDIATRICS Vol. 94 No. 1
July 1994, pp. 41-44.)


Our blog really is more for the LGBTQ parents and allies who check
it daily, weekly, a few times a month to see what’s happening the
world of LGBTQ parenting, to share stories and keep up to date. If
any of you regulars out there reading this find material offensive
and would like to discuss moderating or taking it down, feel free
to contact David Jacques, our eCommunications Coordinator,
about it.

But before you do that, I want to also, again, encourage you to
speak up in the comments and respond to folks who spread
misinformation and negativity about our families.
“Harry834” and “gay agenda champion” have done so
; we’re lucky to have readers like them who
frequent our blog and make sure our “new visitors” like “Steven”
don’t go unnoticed.

This is not to say that people like “Steven” aren’t welcome on
Family Equality Council Blog. We ask the “Steven”s of the world,
however, to respect that our blog is more like a home away from
home for our families and not a city council meeting.

You wouldn’t walk into a stranger’s home and accuse them of
violating children in front of all their friends if you had nothing
to base that accusation on other then sheer personal prejudice,
would you? If you would, you should take a long, hard look at your
own personal values and, as others on this blog have noted, think
twice about casting stones.


We still have a long ways to go sharing the facts of our families
lives to make sure that the “Steven”s out there change their hearts
and minds or at least know that their misinformed bigotry has no
place in a world built on respect and understanding. We hope that
our readers continue to see Family Equality Council Blog as a place
where they can share openly their views and respond, especially, to
comments like the ones we’ve recently

We will keep this as open a space as possible, but we will respond
to falsehoods and hate speech when necessary. We encourage you all
to be the first to weigh in. And, again, if you have any questions
or concerns about content you see on the blog, please contact
David Jacques or me, Dustin
. We’re happy to discuss these issues with