Juneau Empire | April 9, 2013
I am a licensed physician in Alaska and practiced in Juneau since 1993. Discrimination has been reported to me in clinical exam rooms numerous times by gay and lesbian individuals.
For example, a teen girl was humiliated and thrown out of a local Juneau restaurant because she kissed her girlfriend inside the restaurant. She and her girlfriend were told to never return to the restaurant again. With her parents blessings the girl ultimately moved away from Juneau after she reached 18 partly because Alaska was an unfriendly and unsupportive place for her.
It is a well known fact that we are losing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youth to suicide and homelessness in large proportion compared to non-LGBT youth. Here in Alaska we have one of the highest suicide rates in the country and it is stripping our villages.
More than once I have been at patients’ bedsides here in Juneau waking from a drug overdose attempt and been told by the young person, that they tried to kill them self because they thought they were gay.
Alaska is not a safe place to be gay. Discrimination is unacceptable at any age.
The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Alaska Academy of Family Physicians all support legislation to end discrimination against LGBT persons, thereby promoting a healthier society.
Representatives Beth Kerttula, Josephson, Gruenberg, and Kreiss-Tomkins introduced HB 139 to add LGBT people to our Alaskan anti-discrimination clause so that LGBT individuals have the same protections other Alaskans enjoy. PLEASE encourage our legislators in the House and Senate from all over Alaska to do the right thing and pass HB139 without reservation. Doctor’s Orders!
Maureen Longworth, MD