October 17, 2006
Lincoln, Nebraska councilwoman Robin Eschliman and county commissioner Bob Workman—both good, solid Christian folk—would like your gay teenager to die:
A minor $1,500 suicide prevention grant caused some major controversy during City Council and County Board meetings this week.
The reason: The focus of the grant was gay and lesbian teenagers, and the original grant funding would have been funneled through a gay-rights advocacy group.
Both the council and County Board approved the grant, but not before some vigorous debate and amendments aimed at de-emphasizing the gay and lesbian focus.
The grant was one of eight approved by a joint city-county board to be funded out of keno [lottery] proceeds but the only one that was questioned by either body.
Originally, the keno money was designated toward Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to identify and assist gay and lesbian youths.
But both the council and County Board amended their resolutions to award the contract directly to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Health Center to find or develop the education program and to broaden the scope to include other high-risk groups.
… The inclusion of PFLAG led to some letters and e-mails to council and County Board members alleging the group has a hidden agenda of “recruitment and retention.”
Councilman Dan Marvin said he took the one letter-writer’s advice and researched PFLAG and “didn’t see anything remotely bad about it.” He would have supported the original proposal.
… Councilwoman Robin Eschliman and County Commissioner Bob Workman disagreed, and even removing PFLAG as the grant recipient was not enough to garner their support.
Eschliman voted against the resolution Monday, saying it was controversial and “causes grief” to use tax dollars to fund gay and lesbian issues.
She said she’d rather give the money to something less controversial because people with “deeply held traditional family values” don’t want their tax dollars used for such causes, and she suggested the UNL Health Center could raise money to create the program.
Workman, who was the lone County Board member to vote against the amended resolution Tuesday, took a similar view.
“I believe this type of government funding can undermine traditional family values,” he said.
When told by a fellow board member the grant did not come from tax dollars but from money spent on keno, Workman angrily responded that there is no difference.
“These are government funds,” he said.
As New Nebraska Network notes: Teenage suicide—a traditional family value.
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