Letter: Sorlie Bridge could shine a positive light
The data says that they don’t feel seen, safe, included, or deserving of love in this state and we are losing these kids. Does it really cost so much to put on some lights and send a message that they belong?
I just read about the Greater Grand Forks' Sorlie Bridge lights drama, and I was reminded of Minot’s Pride Flag on City Hall drama of last year, which made national news. I read the article and learned that Steve Gander would willingly fight for people's right to live according to their sexual orientation and identity, but that he drew the line at using public infrastructure in support of or promotion of one lifestyle choice or another.
Consider this an open letter, I would love to talk to you, but I’d like to talk to the folks living in Grand Forks, too. I spent a year studying the outcomes of queer youth in North Dakota. According to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 61.1% of queer youth seriously consider suicide and 84% don’t turn to adults when feeling sad, empty hopeless or angry. They are experiencing significant trauma from the negative messages and bullying that happens all over North Dakota towards the queer community from both inside and outside of their home. They are missing school, disproportionately homeless, more likely to turn to illicit substances, and have abysmal mental health due entirely to social rejection.
The data says that they don’t feel seen, safe, included, or deserving of love in this state and we are losing these kids. Does it really cost so much to put on some lights and send a message that they belong? If we wanted an occasion, a momentous moment, it could be the turning point when leadership addressed these issues seriously, because we’ve been failing these kids to lethal consequences for decades. If asked, one could say we are putting these lights on to reduce suicidality in queer youth. We would not simply be promoting one group over another, we would be sending an important message that is vital to reducing negative health outcomes in this state. Other groups are more than welcome to make a case for their own lights, but as it stands, if doing this could save even one life, it seems cruel to leave them in the dark.
Faye Seidler, Moorhead, Minn.