Ohio: Critics Block Health Talk on Transsexuality
May 15, 2007
AIDS Awareness Week at Ohio State University-Mansfield was to have included a talk, presented by a nurse, on the transgender community, a group at particularly high risk of HIV infection. But the health department cancelled the presentation at the last minute in response to complaints by Richland County conservatives.
"The purpose of AIDS Awareness Week is to encourage people to avoid risky behavior, to practice safer sex, and to get tested if they have engaged in risky behavior," said Stan Saalman, health commissioner for the Mansfield-Ontario-Richland Health Department. "But how someone becomes a transsexual we don't get into that." He said he was unaware of the talk until some angry residents called in response to local media coverage.
After a campus flyer and a news release promoted the event, entitled "Transsexualism: Breaking the Myths," several local churches and the Richland Community Family Coalition objected, saying tax dollars were being used to promote a lifestyle they find objectionable.
"I was extremely distressed," said Cassandra Chronos, a nurse with the Ohio Department of Health's AIDS division, who planned to present the talk on her own time. Chronos said she had given the PowerPoint presentation about 25 times in the past three years. She said the talk offers a clinical perspective for health care workers, and she objected to the accusation that its purpose was to promote the transgender lifestyle. "It's not a lifestyle choice, and it's not something you can promote," she said.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
5.12.2007; Regina McEnery
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.