It seems ironic that the homophobic cartoon by D. C. Parsons be printed this week. After all, just last week, we celebrated National Coming Out Day with a two page ad containing the names of over 600 LGBTQA-friendly members of our campus, and this Friday is Spirit Day to remember the people we have lost to suicide after anti-gay bullying.
Over the past 24 hours, we’ve watched the internet explode: Many of us have flocked to the petition on Change.org to call for the resignation of the editors and cartoonist involved. Others have brought this issue to Tucson Weekly, Huffington Post, MSNBC, and other news outlets. Some have defended the artist’s free speech.
As apologies continue to be offered and people continue to demand further action, we hope to use this opportunity as a teachable moment, both for the Daily Wildcat and the wider campus community. Here are the facts: LGBTQ people are at a much higher risk for homelessness due to family rejection, face much higher rates of violence, and are three times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Given that there are about 4,000 LGBTQ students at the University of Arizona, it’s worth pausing to wonder how many people here have lived through the experience illustrated in the comic.
As we move forward from this point, Pride Alliance asks a few things. Similar to what many have been saying and what has been posted by the Wildcat, we ask for more rational editing. While we do not believe in limiting free speech and hope this becomes a dialogue, we also see no reason why a person should find it appropriate to put death threats against gay people in writing. We also invite the Daily Wildcat staff – and the rest of the campus community – to partake in diversity training. A major one is SafeZONE, provided through LGBTQ Affairs. Continue educating yourselves and treating your peers with the respect they deserve. It would be one step The Daily Wildcat could take to show its commitment to creating a welcoming, inclusive campus community after we’ve received this sort of hurt.
— Christina Bischoff and Kaleb Stephens are Co-Directors of the ASUA Pride Alliance