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Rising Tide of Anti-Gay Bigotry Documented by PFAW

Hostile Climate Details 300 Incidents in 47 U.S. States

6th Nationwide Chronicle of Homophobic Discrimination

Compiled By GayToday

hostileclimate.jpg - 6.95 K Washington, D.C.-- People For the American Way Foundation (PFAW Foundation) has released Hostile Climate, its sixth nationwide chronicle of anti-gay discrimination. It can be ordered in quantity and distributed to public officials. (See below)

This year's report details almost 300 incidents in 47 states, more than twice as many incidents as reported in the 1998 edition. The states that report the highest number of incidents are California (31), Texas (18), Florida (17), and New York (15).

Incidents related to marriage and family issues --such as same-gender marriage, adoption, child custody and foster parenting --more than doubled from 20 in 1997 to 42 last year.

In the area of education, which includes incidents that occurred in secondary schools or colleges, the number again more than doubled, from 34 in 1997 to 76 in 1998.

The report further details incidents in the following categories: anti- discrimination ordinances (32), censorship (20), "culture wars" or incidents related to public events such as protests or parades (36), employment (36), politics and government (44), and religion (32).

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Congress: Reporting on College Hate Crimes is Needed

Violence and Conventional Male Posing

The Hate Epidemic: Violence on the Rise

Related Sites:
People for the American Way

GayToday does not endorse related sites.

This year's report also has a new feature: a series of 14 personal essays by people who have firsthand experience with anti-gay discrimination and the movement to end it.

The essayists include:

baldwin1.gif - 15.70 K Rep. Tammy Baldwin U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), California legislator Sheila Kuehl, filmmakers Arthur Dong ("Licensed to Kill") and Debra Chasnoff ("It's Elementary"), and activists such as David Mixner, a former adviser to President Clinton, and Jeff Montgomery of Detroit's Triangle Foundation.

Carole Shields, President of People For the American Way Foundation, said:

"Since Matthew Shepard's death, we have been asking ourselves, as a nation, 'How have we arrived at such a place, where someone could commit such a heinous, heartless crime?' The answer, as this book reveals, is that we start down this path whenever we deny people their basic human rights and dignity. The hostile climate that lesbians and gay men face--with its powerful undertow of partisan rhetoric, public and corporate policy--fosters hate by validating and perpetuating discrimination."

PFAW Foundation has received support from the Gill Foundation, a leading philanthropic foundation focusing on justice and equality issues, to establish the Hostile Climate Campaign, an aggressive program for distributing the report to state policy-makers and colleges and universities.

As part of the Hostile Climate Campaign, activists will hand-deliver copies of the report to state legislators at the beginning of the legislative sessions in early January.

In addition, anyone with Internet access can get involved by visiting and donating a copy to a legislator, school or library.

cshields.jpg - 6.97 K Carol Shields "There's an old saying, 'Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.' Well, you can help change the hostile climate by sending this report to someone who really needs to understand the truth about discrimination against lesbians and gay men," said Shields.

Katherine Pease, Executive Director of the Gill Foundation said:

"As the lives of gay and lesbian people and families become more visible through policy discussions on the state level - employment non-discrimination, hate crimes, same-sex unions and family issues-- it is critical that the public, the media and policy-makers have accurate information.

"Hostile Climate is one of the most comprehensive and well-documented catalogues of discrimination against our community."
For more information, to read personal essays, samples of state incidents, and to order copies of Hostile Climate for yourself or needy public officials:

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