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A Haven for Gay Teens

December 17, 1989

I want to commend you on the completeness and accuracy of your coverage of Project 10, the support group for gay adolescents at Fairfax High School.

By its very nature, this will always be a controversial program. The fears (based on misinformation and ignorance) about homosexuality are profound.

Lou Sheldon fans the flames of bias quite effectively. His concern that parents need to have the private information about their children's sexuality reported to them reminds me of the days preceding my service as a military physician and the former myopia of the military regarding the reporting of sexually transmitted diseases. The attempt was made to discipline all GIs with positive venereal disease tests; as a result, the reported incidence of these infections dropped dramatically. The Lou Sheldons would no doubt have claimed an unqualified success from this approach. The military soon realized, however, that all they succeeded in accomplishing was discouraging their personnel from coming in for care.

Gay adolescents are profoundly isolated. They usually cannot confide in their peers (they get teased and ostracized), or their parents (justifiably fearing intense and profound rejection), and usually not in their clergymen or physicians (unfortunately). The result is a major risk of suicide.

The support provided by Project Ten is one effective way to try to counteract this isolation and all its disastrous consequences.

DR. EDWARD M. RISSMAN

Past President, Los Angeles

Pediatric Society

Associate Clinical Professor

of Pediatrics,

UCLA School of Medicine

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