Positive outlook for youth

I write to urge and to caution us to maintain a balanced view of our youth. The seven (known) recent suicides of LGBT youth are awful, disheartening and enraging. The reaction to them and the media’s coverage of them, while shining a spotlight on incredibly important concerns, could lead a person to believe that all of our youngsters are being horrifically bullied and will go on to kill themselves. The balanced truth is that, yes, some of this does happen to some people. But, many LGBT youth do not experience any problems associated with their sexual orientation and, in fact, most even thrive.

Ritch Savin-Williams of Cornell University has passionately called for greater understanding of the strengths of our youth, and I join him in his call. We must not allow the discourse to become dominated by doom and depression, and in the ongoing battle for full equality, we must demonstrate not only that LGBTers face specific struggles, but also that we offer immense resources to society at large. New research is showing us that our youth excel in areas of creativity, developing broad and diverse social networks, athletics, acceptance of others, popularity, growing into successful adults and fantastic parents, and certainly many more areas about which we will soon be learning. For the past 30 years, discussion of our youth has focused on depression, bullying, HIV, suicide risk and substance abuse, all of which may contribute to large-scale self-fulfilling prophecies. I urge us to look at the other side as well, to tell that story that needs telling and to offer our youth a more positive image of what they can be and who they can grow up to become.

— Nicholas A. Wood Philadelphia

Nizah Morris case: Mishandled or deliberate?

As a concerned Philadelphian, I have followed with great interest the reporting on the death of Nizah Morris. As many are aware, she turned up dead shortly after an encounter with the Philadelphia police. I have kept abreast of the many efforts to learn more about the events leading up to her death by PGN, and the extraordinary efforts that have been undertaken to not disclose all that might be known about this matter. The stonewalling by the District Attorney, refusal by police officials to disclose relevant facts of great public concern that might help us understand what did and didn’t happen that night, and who was involved. And the most amazing “loss” of the entire investigative file into a matter that has many of us wondering what all of the secrecy is about. Taken all together, this is either the most mishandled inquiry ever undertaken or a deliberate attempt to withhold information that might show us the truth. While I acknowledge the legitimate need of confidentiality in the early stages of an investigation, it is clear to me, after eight years, that no one in authority wants the full truth known. I believe those in authority have given us all reason to doubt their honesty in this matter. I also believe, after eight years, the public and, more particularly, the family of the decedent is owed the full truth of what is actually known. Many other investigations into deaths have been much more openly reported on. Unless someone can tell us there are compelling reasons why this matter is cloaked in so much darkness, I think there is only one conclusion one can come to. And, before anyone starts thinking about attacking any of the conclusions I have reached herein, I challenge them to sit for a frank interview so we can perhaps learn more of the truth. After that, if I’ve misspoken, I’ll gleefully and publicly say so.

— Lou Lanni Philadelphia