Update: Omaha Responds Concerning Violent Messages
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.
[…] Watch has obtained a press release from the boards of Citizens For Equal Protection of Nebraska (CFEP) and the Omaha chapters of PFLAG […]
Well, there you go.
Good work David (and CFEP, PFLAG Omaha and GLSEN Omaha).
Rounding up and getting rapid action out of volunteer orgs can be a bit like herding cats — esp. during holiday periods of the year. Most are just not set-up to deal with these types of situations in an official sense, even if the views of the individual members are dead against what’s going on.
But you know what’s going to happen next, don’t you?
Now this is going to be presented as ‘proof’ about how intolerant The Gays (c) are.
Perhaps we could coax a comment outta PFOX or Exodus or Throckmorton about “viewpoint discrimination”, with this episode as an example???…
Good work, David.
Although it has not been determined who hacked the GSA website in Omaha, it is still being investigated. It is dishearting that CFEP and PFLAG did not discuss the website with the GSA members before striking out at the author. Discussions were had with the minors after a discussion that only added fuel to the fire but was very hurtfull. There was not an opportunity to discuss the serious issue with PFLAG and CFEP before hand. No one discussed the issue with the President of the Outeach Center. Those involved simply stated they would not support the center unless the author was asked to resign from the board. A lot of time and effort went into building and updating the website. And to have the author resign his position without even a discussion was unnecessary. CFEP and PFLAG owe the author and the President of the Outreach Center sincere apologies. No one has ever complained about any of the sites until now. It is obvious to most the site was compromised. Over the years those individuals and/or organizations who have been asked to support the Center have not. Some have never been through the door in years. These individuals should step back and evaluate their own character instead of assuming one individual is at fault. And furthermore, no one has ever made any charges against the author before. And to doubt his devotion to protecting the children is simply slander. This is my opinion.
Mr. Orr — It is not true that no one discussed the issue with the President of the Center, if by this you are referring to George Broadway. I did on the phone and exchanged emails with him. If you mean from PFLAG and CFEP, I can only say that I was told that Bob Dorr from PFLAG discussed the issue with Mr. Wyant. You are sidestepping the actual content of the sites and the strange fact that Mr. Wyant refused to comment on the situation despite many contacts from multiple sources.
No, at this point any claim that the site was “hacked” would have to be accompanied by factual evidence from the server host. The most obvious evidence suggests that the author was in complete control of the content. It was only after he was confronted by those in his local GLBT community that he finally removed the content. Your statements go against all evidence to date.
As for contacting the center and those in charge, you are way off base. Repeated emails and phone calls, initiated by multiple persons, were either ignored or rebuffed. Those in authority at the center actively avoided dealing with this issue. I personally spoke with Wyant’s mother, who is also involved with the center, and she hung up on me with “no comment.” This was all before the story was posted.
Mr. Orr, since you claim to have private knowledge of this issue, would you please state your connection, official or otherwise, to Wyant or the Rainbow Outreach GLBT Center in Omaha?
Michael — to make this quicker rather than drag it out:
Were you a member of the Board of Directors of the Rainbow Outreach Center at one point?
(or the secretary?)
If so, what connection/friendship/whatever do you maintain with Wyatt or that website etc?
Thanks in advance if you are able to quickly clarify this.
(and not so fast on the side-step left Warren: there are two strings to this whole sorry episode… and one of them was your continuing haste to slander gay-straight alliances — the real GSA, not that vanity site; which you took no time to even bother investigating before launching off your attack. Fortunately you have already “apologised and explained”, which is much more than we can say about Wyatt at this point in time.)
Sorry — got a friend with surname Wyatt. (and David, where’s that editing feature when you need it most???)
In response to the situation regarding the website gaystraightalliance.org, and
related sites, the Rainbow Outreach GLBT Center is not and never has been involved in
any manner with the websites in question.
The Rainbow Outreach GLBT Center was unaware of the content of the website until
receiving inquiries regarding the website’s content.
The Center does not advocate nor condone the use of violence under any circumstance,
whether in response to bullying or to any other perceived provocation.
The Center does not condone even the suggestion that it may approve of violence.
Therefore the webmaster, Mr. Wyant, has voluntarily stepped down from the Board of
Directors and is severing all connections with the Center in order to best protect
the interests of the Rainbow Outreach GLBT Community Center, its supporters,
programs, and the community.
Rainbow Outreach GLBT Community Center
[…] Outreach Board Chair George Broadway made a statement on the ExGayWatch blog earlier this evening regarding the GayLibrary.com […]
Considering the importance of this matter, we need to mention that we have not yet confirmed the content of this comment or even that it was posted by Mr. Broadway. However, if this is accurate, our first reaction would be to ask why it took so long for Broadway to become involved, when both XGW and Dr. Throckmorton attempted to elicit his input from the beginning. Second would be, is this statement posted somewhere officially representing Rainbow Outreach?
Added: Dr. Throckmorton reports that he actually spoke with Broadway before all this broke and he refused to deal with it.
When Throckmorton called the Center and talked to me it had been just a few hours before that I had read his first email. I had no time to even see the sites before his call. I told him this fact and that the sites were not under any form of control of the Center or myself. I also told him that he would have to talk to Brian. Throckmorton seems to love to create his own drama by blowing up the facts and misinterpreting everything he reads or is told. For that reason I refused any further communication with him and still do. Anything I may say to him will be twisted and turned against myself and the Center. I have watched this drama unfold on the Internet. It has not been pretty and has shown how the human mind can run wild based on little or no factual information.
Brian’s policy is to never answer emails from people like Throckmorton and I can see why now for the very same reason I gave above. Brian’s sites were hacked. Plain and simple. As to who did it and why, I have no definite suspects but I have my suspicions. Brian is an honorable man and has done more for the worldwide GLBT community, and the Center, than you can possibly imagine. No one I know of has ever heard him advocate the use of violence, ever. It’s not the kind of person he is.
I do have a question about Throckmorton. Every time he has called and emailed it has been done from a Grove City College phone and the College email system. He seems to spend the vast majority of his time looking for dirt on College payroll time and equipment. Does the College condone his non-accademic activities? Where most people work, they would be quickly escorted out the door for committing such corporate policy violations. Perhaps the College administrators need to be asked this question. And perhaps the private and State operated student loan officials need to be asked this question. It makes the College look bad and I know thats not the case.
I have sent the Center statement to the many local individuals who have been involved with this issue and on this web site as well as to an attorney. I am who I say I am.
RainbowOutreach GLBT Community Center
Nothing you are saying fits with the available facts Mr. Broadway. And forget Dr. Throckmorton, you are using him as a Red Herring. We called and emailed over a period of several days, not hours. I left messages at the center and I spoke directly with Wyant’s mother who hung up in my face.
We were and are doing our job by calling attention to dangerous, violent material on websites belonging to a man who was listed as the Coordinator for the GLBT Center which you claim to represent. Yet no one, not you or anyone else there took even 5 minutes to find out what this was all about.
This is all most irresponsible and one cannot assume the safety of youth and turn away from such pleas. Even if the material had been the result of a hack, and we have reason to believe the contrary, would this not warrant a response? Several days in, Wyant responded through Mr. Dorr that he was watching his sites every 30 minutes, yet the violent material not only remained, but it was modified with additional messages of hate.
Then after we got through to Michael Gordon, who was very concerned about how a national news story might look just prior to some planned event up there, a meeting took place with Wyant the same evening and suddenly all the violent material was taken down, and a statement to that effect was issued.
What you are saying does not ring true at all Mr. Broadway, and we do not appreciate being used to spin this disgusting situation in a way that makes the Omaha organizations look better. This would seem to indicate that something is desperately wrong up there and that is everyone’s responsibility – GLBT, straight, from Omaha or Atlanta.
So the real question is, where is the transparency that should be evident for any group such as yours? What are you hiding from?
Perhaps as Board Chair of the center, you should have put your personal issues aside and provided some information.
Mr. Broadway, you are welcome to come to my blog and explain how I blew up anything or misinterpreted the events. I wrote four emails to you asking for assistance in tracking this down. You did not respond, except to one by cc to someone else — but even that email had no information. Regarding these activities, my interest in this is both academic and for public safety. When I teach this fall, this will be a dandy illustration of how not to handle such situations.
As the truth doesn’t seem to please any of you folks and what I say is twisted to fit whatever drama you have created, I will make no further comments. It’s totally pointless to do so.
I, for one, appreciate Mr. Broadway’s first response, which simply stated what actions had been taken for accountability and youth safety.
The rest is just bickering, imho.
I agree with Mike Airhart’s response above.
I would also point out that Mr. Braodway may need to be very careful about what he says publicly about workers at this center in NE.
I am glad that it isn’t my headache, but if in the same position, I would probably not answer a slew of individual emails or a bunch of phone calls from someone that I did not know (especially after it became a right wing cause celebre). I would probably have just posted a response and referred concerned members of the public to that response. Again, glad this isn’t my headache.
All contact with Omaha started as a concerned gesture alerting them to extremely disturbing material found while posting about a misrepresentation of the GayStraightAlliance.org site as official. We were careful in emails and voice mails to let them know why we were concerned, that we were gay-rights advocates and trying to help. This was long before anything of substance was posted. There is no liability for them to listen, but they didn’t even want to know about it.
Honestly, we would not be this concerned if they had responded with any kind of responsible interest. And Mike, it’s really not helpful to admire a statement which is directly countered by the only people up there who actually do seem to be concerned. Since when do we take spin at face value?
I would love to simply walk away from the entire issue, but I can’t find a responsible way to do that now that we are involved. People who appeared to be making responsible moves are now backpedaling and refuse to go on the record with things they have already discussed. John, do you want to be responsible for looking the other way if something drastic were to happen? Mike?
Please don’t get me wrong. I think the posts were disturbing and bizarre, but on the face of it I wasn’t convinced about who posted the offensive material (hack job vs. owner of the site). My computer skills are probably too rudimentary to follow some of the sleuthing that has been going on, but I don’t know that there is any evidence that Mr. Broadway posted anything on the sites or had any direct control over the sites. His employee (or volunteer) might have posted these things himself, or his site might have been hacked.
I have been on the Board of a charitable organization and have dealt with my share of difficult volunteers who did not initially appear to be difficult individuals. Bizarre situations come up that would require the Board and Officers to meet on an unscheduled basis to deal with this crisis or that. Luckily none led to any national notoriety. (The organization was animal related, rather than dealing with people as this organization does).
My service on the Board of this group was voluntary and we all had full time jobs which made the crises that came up that much more challenging. I am just glad that it isn’t my headache, and I can see how someone might bungle a response or not reply (during August) promptly enough. Dealing with these sorts of stresses is one of the most often cited reasons that I hear of from people working in volunteer positions of responsibility for stepping down. I eventually had enough and resigned from my group’s Board. Like I said, I am very glad it isn’t my headache.
George, put yourself on this side for a moment. How would you determine what is accurate? No one responded at all until Michael Gordon of CFEP became involved, and the information we have received from him contradicts what we have gotten from you. How can it be considered “drama” if we are now weary of this statement from you?
We have no reason to believe that Mr. Broadway was responsible for what appeared on Wyant’s websites. Our concern with him was his unwillingness to even listen to our inquiries. Like it or not, his position does make him responsible to that extent at least. Board Chair may be a headache at times, but it is also quite voluntary and dealing with a Brian Wyant is part of that job – particularly when one is entrusted with youth.
We have taken a serious stance, and rightly so, on some Exodus ministries and their handling of youth. How can we ignore a similar issue on this side of the fence (which literally dropped into our laps) and maintain our integrity? Statements like the one above make nice press but to date we have not received a single return phone call or email from Rainbow Youth on this matter. Would we tolerate the same from anyone else?