Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Have you ever seen someone do something that you know is wrong and said nothing? Of course, we all have. Have you ever thought to yourself afterwards that by not saying something you actually enabled them to continue doing what was wrong? I have.

My father was an alcoholic. He worked two jobs all his life to keep my mother and two brothers fed, clothed and in a good home. My Dad would drink half a bottle of Vodka in the morning before going to work. I did not say anything to my Dad. He died in his early sixties. I miss my Dad. I have not forgiven myself. I was an “enabler”.

I use this lead in because I do not want to continue to enable bad behavior in my family, my friends, my neighbors, my colleagues, or in our society. But how does one take that step to stop being an enabler and become what I call a “preventer”?

When does one stand up and say to a family member or a friend stop doing what you are doing because I know it will harm or kill you?  That takes courage.

Now I will try to discuss a topic that is both emotionally charged and highly political. I will in this series start with a behavior that is not only harmful to one’s health and well being but also costly and harmful to our society. I will seek out the enablers in our community of this behavior and ask why they are enablers. That at least is a start.

What is this behavior – homosexuality

I will begin with some background on this issue and then do a series of articles and I hope taped interviews with key members of our community who are enabling homosexuality in Sarasota County.

Let me begin by saying many enablers do not think they are promoting bad behavior. There are those in our community that embrace a gay lifestyle, there are those who feel they must not speak out in the name of diversity and tolerance, and finally, there are those who just want to go along to get along. Some of these people may not know the facts about the negative impacts of homosexuality on the individual, families and our society. Why? Because no one is seriously looking into this issue, that is until now.

First, I will present some facts from the Florida and Sarasota Departments of Heath about HIV/AIDS in our state and community. In September a comprehensive report was released by the Florida Department of Health on HIV/AIDS titled, “The Man Up Report 2009”. I will draw from this report and data from the Sarasota Department of Health.

I hope we can all agree that HIV/AIDS is dangerous if not deadly to an individual’s health and costly to our society. The question is what is the root cause of this deadly disease?  Here are some background statistics:

According to the Florida Department of Health Study, “Man Up Report 2009” 1 in 123 men in Florida has HIV/AIDS. The report states, “Males account for the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in Florida. Men should begin engaging in frank discussions about the seriousness of HIV/AIDS and include women and adolescents in the discussions.” [Emphasis added]
According to the FDH study Sarasota County is 13th in our state in the number of HIV/AIDS cases with a rate of 1 in 339 men infected.
  • In 2008 Sarasota County had 800 known cases of HIV/AIDS.
  •  Of these seventy percent in males (426 cases) was the result of men having sex with men (MSM).
  • Six percent of men (42) and nineteen percent of women (35) were due to intravenous drug use (IDU).
  • Six percent of cases in males were due to a combination of MSM and IDU.
  • Heterosexuality accounted for ten percent of males (58) and sixty-five percent of females (119) contracting HIV/AIDS
It is clear from the “Man Up Report 2009” and 2008 county statistics that MSM (male sex with me) is the primary cause of the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sarasota County. It is also clear that women contract HIV/AIDS from sex with men who are infected (65%) and by IDU (intravenous drug use) (19%).

So what is being done to address this heath crisis that grew by 8.1% in Sarasota County from 2007 to 2008? Who does the County contract with to help deal with this issue? A group named ALSO.

I have tried repeatedly to interview Stephan Warne the Program Coordinator for ALSO. I called Bruce Webster the Chairman of the Board of ALSO and was angrily rebuked by him before he hung up on me.  However, what I did learn from Bruce, a former pastor and the Executive Director of Family Promise of Manatee County is that when he came to Sarasota he sought out a volunteer opportunity to get known in the community and he chose ALSO as that vehicle. Bruce said that he has been on the ALSO board for two years and that homosexuality is “not a choice”.

According to the Sarasota Department of Heath:
The Department received approximately $67,000 in funding from the Sarasota County Commission. The funding received is used to contract for services with specific outcome measures with five different agencies.  The Community AIDS Network (CAN), along with four other agencies (Multicultural Health Institute, ALSO and Genesis Health Services and Project Challenge of West Coast, Inc.). These agencies formed the Project Unity Initiative and received the prevention contract. The measures are based on the strategic goals of the HIV/AIDS Network of Southwest Florida (HANS). For more information, you can visit the HANS web site: www.hivsarasota.org.
The purpose of the contract with ALSO is to provide HIV/AIDS tests in the community to one of the known high risk groups (as identified by their board): those aged 13 to 21.  For 2009, ALSO is contracted to provide 200 tests at a cost of $10 per test to persons in this age group throughout Sarasota County. ALSO has received tax payer funding in the past three grant cycles that range from $2,000 to $4,000 per grant cycle.

So ALSO provides free HIV/AIDS tests to those aged 13 to 21 in Sarasota County. My question is what is ALSO doing to prevent this behavior and thereby reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Sarasota County? Since I can’t get an interview to answer this and other questions I must rely on their website. Here is what the ALSO website says:

  •  If you are a youth who has questions about your sexual identity, coming out, or GLBTQ issues; or you want to learn about diversity, tolerance, and acceptance for ALL members of society, ALSO Out Youth may be for you.
  • The ALSO Out Youth Drop-In Center is a drug- and alcohol-free place where youth engage in social activities, educational programs and peer support groups.
  • The hotline staff/volunteers also carry a referral list of groups, agencies, and individuals who have identified themselves as open to helping GLBTQ youth.
  •  As the school year is about to begin, ALSO is working closely with our friends and allies throughout both Sarasota and Manatee Counties to make the 2009-2010 school year the safest yet for GLBTQ students.  This summer, several youth participated in the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual school climate report this year and we hope to see our communities results improve since previous reports.  [Emphasis added]
  • Sarasota County high schools will be sponsoring at least one “Unity Day” per high school this year and we have been invited back to work with each school, as part of our participation in the Coalition for Inclusion and Diversity (CID).  “Unity Days” have proven to be a successful way to engage youth in active roles as advocates for their communities and we have been very lucky to participate in such an innovative process. [Emphasis added]
It appears that ALSO is and activist agency that is supporting if not promoting homosexual behavior – ALSO is an enabler.

Note the link on the ALSO website to their “Partner” GLSEN and the statement of Bruce Webster about ALSO proudly participating in GLSEN activities. I have written extensively about GLSEN and its Little Black Book (WARNING this book contains pornographic material), which was distributed to middle and high school students in Massachusetts.

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