Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HRC Releases Landmark Study of LGBT Youth, Kicks off Tenure of New President
Chad Griffin came through town earlier this week on a whirlwind tour to announce his taking of the helm of the Human Rights Campaign organization. It was a well choreographed and carefully crafted "drop by" to highlight his Arkansas connection plus mix, mingle, nosh and get seen with the local politicos such as Kathy Webb and Joyce Elliot. In case you missed it and from what I gathered quite a few of you:

a. Did not know Grifin was appearing.
b. Had no clue as to what HRC is or does.
c. Had scheduling conflicts.
d. Didn't give a damn and still don't.
e. All of the above.

HrcdogUnfortunately I couldn't attend the actual interview due some deadline issues, but as I attempted to follow up for any feedback, I got an assortment ranging from "I didn't have anything else to do so I thought I would check it out," to " I thought that he was here to announce that HRC was opening a local office." Obviously the "memo" perhaps lacked circulation or either the area's learning curve is scaling beyond my comprehension. Nevertheless, it continues to dumbfound me that now that we have some of the most high tech gadgets ever developed to deploy information, by golly for some reason many of the messages still get mis-communicated.

Mr. Griffin was in town to raise awareness of issues facing LGBT youth, the Arkansas anti-bullying law as well as HRC’s new groundbreaking study of LGBT youth. Certainly the material is vibrant and worthy of attention as the plight of gay youth has been elevated due to recent suicides, homelessness and violence related issues. Locally these issues have been championed and addressed for some time through a variety of events and seminars. Although HRC has not had a significant prominence in the state, they have offered some assistance such as $5000 in funding to the now defunct Arkansas Equality Network for the 2001 voter file project, which was to be used to advocate for hate crimes and safe school legislation. Also HRC collaborated with the ACLU and AEN on the 2004 Arkansas Marriage Amendment which amended the Arkansas constitution banning same- sex marriage.

Even as this new initiative takes flight, HRC hasn't been without its critics and haters who have opined about a litany of issues that have been debated from coast to to coast. In a 2008 The Atlantic article from Andrew Sullivan he waxes on by stating, "the biggest gay rights group in the country has one single mention - it's a blog about a celebrity, of course - of the massive protests that occurred for marriage equality across the country yesterday. You will also notice that a handful of young non-professionals were able to organize in a few days what HRC has been incapable of doing in months or years. You will know from brutal experience that in the two decades of serious struggle for marriage equality, the Human Rights Campaign has been mostly absent, and when present, often passive or reactive." Of course with all the negative
that's rolled out, perhaps with this new leadership maybe things may be changing. Congrats to Mr. Griffin and we'll keep the light on.
* HRC this week released a groundbreaking study of LGBT-identified young people
a corollary study of straight teens that shows tremendous disparities between
the two groups.
* With more than 10,000 respondents ages 13-17, "Growing Up LGBT in America" is
the largest known survey of LGBT teens and shows how critical the work of achieving
equality is for future generations.
* Among the report's key findings:
* Over one-half of LGBT youth (54 percent) say they have been verbally harassed
and called names involving anti-gay slurs;
* Nearly half of LGBT youth (47 percent) say they do not "fit in" in their community
while only 16 percent of non-LGBT youth feel that way;
* 67 percent of straight youth describe themselves as happy but this number drops
to 37 percent among LGBT young people;
* 83 percent of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually, but only 49 percent
believe they can be happy if they stay in the same city or town;
* 6 in 10 LGBT youth say their family is accepting of LGBT people, while a third
say their family is not;
* 92 percent say they hear negative messages about being LGBT - 60 percent say those
messages come from elected leaders.

* When asked to describe their most important problem, straight teens articulated
the usual challenges of grades and college and finances. On the other hand LGBT
teens' worries were directly related to their identity as LGBT including non-accepting
families and bullying.

* The study was released at a press conference featuring new HRC President Chad
Griffin and Los Angeles Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa. In addition to LA, Chad's first
week will take him to Salt Lake City, UT; Omaha, NE; his native Arkansas; and San

* Chad Griffin begins as the new president of the Human Rights Campaign. Previously
the founding partner of strategic communications and campaign firm, Griffin|Schein,
Griffin has taken on entrenched, well-financed interests like big tobacco, big oil
and the far right, and shaped national policy debates around equal rights, clean
energy, universal health care, stem cell research, and early childhood education.
He has also led groundbreaking ballot initiative campaigns including the largest
ballot initiative ever recorded, Proposition 87: California's Clean Alternative
Energy Initiative; the Proposition 10 campaign, which has generated $7 billion
for early childhood education; and Proposition 71, which secured $3 billion for
stem cell research despite the Bush Administration ban. Griffin is a founding board
member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of the
Prop. 8 lawsuit. He is personally responsible for recruiting the legal dream team
of Theodore Olson and David Boies to successfully argue the case. A veteran of the
Clinton White House communications team and a native of Arkansas, Griffin was highly
motivated by young people in taking this new endeavor.

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