We recently reported about our serious concerns over the violent messages on a group of websites owned by Brian Wyant, GLBT Center Coordinator for Rainbow Outreach in Omaha, Nebraska. Most disconcerting was the lack of response from anyone we could find connected with Wyant or Rainbow Outreach. The story made it to a number of other blogs, and was reported by the Christian Post.
A couple of days ago we were were able to contact Michael Gordon of Citizens For Equal Protection of Nebraska. He seemed genuinely alarmed and shared our concerns over the violent entries, especially fearing that someone impressionable or troubled might confuse Wyant’s sites with something officially sanctioned and feel empowered to act accordingly. The following Press Release is a direct result of this contact and CFEP’s efforts.
Statement by the boards of Citizens For Equal Protection of Nebraska (CFEP); Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Omaha Chapter and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Omaha Chapter:
Contacts: Bob Dorr, PFLAG, 402-333-7064; Michael Gordon, CFEP, 402-714-3810
“While CFEP and the PFLAG Omaha and GLSEN Omaha Chapters respect the spirit of freedom of speech, we do not condone violence in any way, shape or form. Any web site statements that suggest violence as an option in responding to injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are absolutely inappropriate, unconscionable and beyond the pale.
“We have met with the developer-owner of GayLibrary.com and of several related web sites and expressed our concerns about some material on those sites. The developer-owner has cleansed the sites of language that, we believe, could encourage violence. We will help the developer-owner stay vigilant to make certain that no such language reappears. We are discussing what further action we might take such as contacting other groups to relay our concerns.
“The GLSEN Omaha and PFLAG Omaha Chapters and CFEP have worked hard for many years to end bullying in our K-12 schools, and particularly to end bullying and harassment based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. We believe in safe schools for ALL students, faculty, staff and patrons. Members of PFLAG Omaha, GLSEN Omaha and CFEP serve as presenters and panelists in an Omaha-area program that promotes safe school environments for all youths. Our Safe Schools program reaches 50 or more audiences each year, including many college classes of future teachers. Our groups always have advocated staying within the rule of law and wouldn’t dream of deviating from that principle.”
We are relieved that those involved with the major GLBT organizations in Omaha have addressed this issue and have pledged to monitor Wyant’s activities. His involvement with youth at the Rainbow Outreach GLBT Center continues to concern us as well, and we hope that this can be changed quickly. XGW is satisfied that the proper local authorities are aware of the situation and we will maintain periodic contact with Gordon to see how this progresses.
While some may have originally lunged into this for the wrong reasons, what we found underneath that story required us to go further. This was both a matter of conscience and responsibility. No one can do it all, but we each have to be ready to do our part to ensure the safety of others. Thank you to those who supported us in this effort.