Mark Sink

Poster No Notices
The October 11 "Focus on the Fracas" about the gay-poster mess at DPS made a preposterous attempt to twist reality with the blatant falsehood that the poster DPS wants displayed in Denver high schools and concerned parents want stopped is an AIDS poster "that warns gay youth about the disease." In fact, the poster never mentions AIDS, HIV or gay health in any manner whatsoever, as Westword, which has a copy of it, well knows.

As the one member of the Health Education Advisory Committee who voted against the poster, I saw the original version with same-sex couples hugging, the headline "LOVE YOURSELF" and the subhead "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth 25 and Under" followed by the words "SAFE AND CONFIDENTIAL" and the phone number of the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Center. The current version is more sanitized: The center has dropped the couples and the "LOVE YOURSELF" in hopes of winning mainstream acceptance of the addled idea that the halls of DPS are the place to promote a gay advocacy group as a legitimate counseling resource for our youth.

Any shrink will tell you that a great number of teens, especially boys, go through a period of gender confusion or an experience of same-sex romance. Any responsible professional will tell you that referring these vulnerable, emotionally needy kids to a gay group is a big mistake; indeed, a professional counselor working with kids at a DPS middle school told the Health Advisory Group exactly that. When gender-confused DPS teens see the poster at school and go to the center, they will be enrolled in "support groups" led by "positive adult role models from the lesbian, gay and bisexual community," according to the center's brochure. Where is neutrality here? Where is the heterosexual point of view? What are the credentials of these people?

The Denver Public Schools has no business lending its authority to any group promoting any sexual behavior or lifestyle. This is another sad DPS abdication of responsibility to our kids. And Westword, in its irresponsible falsehood about the poster's true substance, is complicit in it.

Joy Overbeck

Editor's note: The "Focus on the Fracas" article concerned a recent letter from Focus on the Family to its followers, urging them to protest the distribution in Denver Public Schools of a poster developed by the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Services Center of Colorado. In the editing process, the poster was mistakenly described as an "AIDS poster." Westword apologizes for the error.

Polar Opposites
Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "We're Loaded for Bear," in the September 13 issue:

A couple of weeks ago, I went with another member of the Save Our Bears group to Children's Hospital. We went around to several wards in our polar bear suits. As we entered each room, there was instant recognition: "Klondike and Snow are here!" and young faces broke into smiles, forgetting for a few minutes about their pain.

What is the purpose of a zoo? Is it to exhibit "wild" animals in their "natural" habitat to appeal to our intellectual curiosity, thereby imparting respect for other species? Is it to take paying customers on a "virtual" tour of a faraway place, where they see "exotic" animals as part of the trip? Is it to breed captive animals whose wild cousins are disappearing in the face of the ever-expanding domain of Homo sapiens?

We won't argue these aims here. But a zoo can, and rarely does, manifest a higher purpose. It can show us that other species are God's children, too. This, we think, is at the root of the Klondike and Snow phenomenon. These bears, with all their charisma, knock down our hubris just a little. Their celebrity and popularity are a rare gift. The common folk realize this in their hearts and know what a precious thing is thrown away the day the bears are shipped off. On that day, an empty humanism reigns: Animals are mere chattel, not worthy of an emotional bond; such a thing is reserved only for humans to give and to receive. We have been called selfish. We're not the selfish ones.

Nancy and James Harris

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