Saying he has been working on a statement for months, Provo Mayor John Curtis called for inclusion and compassion for the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens in a post on his “Provo Insider” blog.
“Like many of you, my close circle includes those with gender attractions different than mine, Curtis wrote. “I wasn’t prepared for this, I’ve had to rethink many things and I have had more questions than answers. However, no matter where I turn or where I look, I’ve had an overwhelming confirmation that we need to treat our gay friends, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters with dignity, love and respect. While this seems obvious to me, there are many places in our world, and places in the state of Utah (including Provo) where gay and lesbian people feel marginalized, shunned and severely judged. It pains me to watch my loved ones in a world that is so quick to judge them without knowing how how hard they try to be good people.”
“Every citizen of Provo — whether we realize it or not — associates with someone who publicly or privately identifies as LGBT,” he wrote. “They are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our siblings, our children. Even still, for most of my life I’ve made casual judgments about the LGBT community without the benefit of thoughtful consideration. I regret my uninformed judgment.”
Curtis cited the recent statement by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about their support for nondiscrimination laws that include LGBT people, as well as the church’s Mormonsandgays.org web site.
“There is so much good in Provo, but sometimes I worry that our kindness is reserved for people who look, act and believe like we do,” he wrote. “It is sobering to think that LGBT youth are at least three times more likely than heterosexual youth to attempt suicide, and our homeless youth have a disproportionate share of LGBT members. It is my hope that the city of Provo will foster an atmosphere in which every young person — gay or straight — feels that his or her life is highly valued.”
He encouraged families to “be safe places for their gay and lesbian children to stay in the home.”
“If we complicate how we treat others with a demand to first know the answers or have all the solutions, we will fail,” he wrote. “Instead I hope our compassion will be extended as we work together as a community to make our city a safe place for everyone — our kids, your friends, our neighbors, everyone. No one deserves discrimination, instead let us choose inclusion.”
Comments to the post, so far, have been all positive, including one calling for a nondiscrimination ordinance in the city.