December 9, 2010

CONTACT: Dr. Scout



Today marked the launch of the Surgeon General’s 30th report on tobacco, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease. The report will be better known for its main message being echoed around media outlets that the evidence shows there is absolutely no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. In the words of the Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, “One cigarette can kill you.” Unfortunately, within hours of this press announcement the American Family Association used this media opportunity to campaign against gay people. Their press release about this health event was titled “One cigarette can kill you; so can one act of gay sex.”

Dr. Scout is the Director of The Fenway Institute’s Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Equity. One of their main activities is urging LGBT inclusion in tobacco control activities nationwide. “Considering the LGBT communities’ smoking rates are from 35-almost 200% higher than the mainstream population and the recent rash of LGBT youth suicides,” says Dr. Scout, “we feel this linking of one of our communities’ biggest health disparities and anti-gay propaganda to be no less than dangerous.”

Earlier this week the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that they were formally adding 13 anti-gay groups to their national list of hate groups; American Family Association is one of the groups to be added. SPLC monitors hate groups all of kinds [932 to date] and other extremists throughout the United States and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public. According to Evelyn Schlatter, Author of SPLC’s Winter 2010 Intelligence Report, “Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities….the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations.”

As a result of bullying and harassment, LGBT youth are four times more likely to think about or attempt suicide according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Scout comments, “I’m very pleased to see SPLC has spoken out that these organizations are no more than hate groups. The hurdles we fight to get our LGBT youth through school intact are big enough. We know the stress of discrimination is why they start smoking more than other kids. People who deliberately fan the flames of stigma against these vulnerable youth should consider the story the LGBT youth suicide statistics tell.”

The Network for LGBT Health Equity at The Fenway Institute was formerly the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control. The Network is a grassroots collection of hundreds of LGBT health advocates and professionals nationwide. They have been working with local, state, and national tobacco control entities for years to help integrate the best possible LGBT tobacco control activities at all levels. Two of the Networks most popular resources are cultural competency trainings for states looking to expand their LGBT health equity work and strategies for how to integrate LGBT measures into health surveys. More information about the Network can be found at More information about LGBT youth safety can be found at


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