return to media coverage
An edited version of this letter was published in the Vancouver Sun in August '97.
Two recent articles in the Vancouver Sun raise the specter of pedophilia in cyberspace, and in the process equate homosexuality with child abuse.
In an article about "streetproofing" children for the internet (Parents urged to warn children about cyberspace dangers, July 29), two examples of girls aged 11 and 13 being lured from home by adult men are equated with the story of "a 15-year-old boy from a Seattle suburb [who] ran away to San Francisco to join another youth he met in an America Online chat room for gays."
It's reasonable to assume that heterosexual 15-year-olds don't run away with the first homosexual they meet, whether electronically or through any other means of communication. But by presenting this as an example of the dangers of cyberspace, the implication is that unsuspecting young people can be lured into being gay.
How much support was available to that young man in suburban Seattle? My guess is he felt the same isolation, hostility and daily fear of violence experienced by most gay and lesbian teenagers.
Two days later we are told of indirect links from a government web site to "an on-line magazine for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youths" and "an electronic publishing forum for gay teens." (Premier's web site for kids linked to explicit sex lines, July 31).
Fair enough. It makes sense that a government web site for youth would take into account diversity issues, including the fact that not all young people are heterosexual. Yet this situation is described as "allowing potential child abusers to contact children."
Time for a reality check. There is a world of difference between preying on children and providing support to gay and lesbian youth. Unfortunately such distinctions are lost on professional homophobe Kari Simpson, who fosters her usual hysteria by accusing the government of "facilitat[ing] the abuse and exploitation of children."
Sexual minority youth are in desperate need of support. Who is providing it? Not most parents - in suburban Seattle or elsewhere - and certainly not Kari Simpson and her ilk. Removing links on web sites or even unplugging their computers won't change the fact that a sizable minority of teens live in real fear of the violently homophobic environment in which they live.
The important question is not why support for queer youth is available in cyberspace, but why it isn't available everywhere else.