An Open Letter To The Media

I read the articles you wrote about an elementary school student who returned to school as a different gender than before.

KOKH FOX25 and KSDK News Channel 5, I write to you.

As a parent, I need to understand the reason for your blatant disregard of privacy and negligent concern of the results.  So I have to ask:

Was this a newsworthy topic? Did the public need to be informed? Was it for the greater good?

Or . .

Did you  just take a situation that was handled excellently and within best interest of the child and make it open to public ridicule and debate, just to keep a hot topic posted on your news feed?

I’m appalled (though not surprised) that you so easily created a public debate among the entire state (KOKH). You know this is Oklahoma. You wanted a rise.

You made light of  a child’s diversity, struggle and health, and then passed it off as news because you knew it would get a response!

Maybe it is acceptable for you to do such a thing to your own children, but you should stand behind the children of this nation and this state, and acknowledge their vulnerability and their right to dignity as you are supposed to do!

You represent the people. You represent the state. You lead the crowd.

You blurred the lines of the law for profit.

Shame on you.

These articles could have been presented a different way. You could have not named the school. You could have not named the child’s real first name or new name! You could have written an article that was a general inquisition about how Gender Identity Disorder impacts children. Then, you could have posed the question to readers about how they think it may/may not impact the students. You could have refrained from indirectly exposing her medical diagnosis.

But you didn’t.

What you did do was negligently overlook a child’s rights, feelings and psychological development. All for the purpose of stirring the pot, raising the ratings and keeping at the top!

The media is supposed to push boundaries. The media also has boundaries, especially when it comes to children!

Did you ask this child if you could share her story? Did the family consent to this exposure by you? Why have we not heard from them? Oh, wait! That’s because they took proper steps and were advised by medical professionals. They took every possible step they could to help guide their young child through this  very difficult transition and to help her feel comfortable at school.

Here’s what you were supposed to do.

“Journalistic activity which touches on the lives and welfare of children should always be carried out with appreciation of the vulnerable situation of children. Journalists and media organisations shall strive to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in reporting children’s affairs and, in particular, they shall:

  • Strive for standards of excellence in terms of accuracy and sensitivity when reporting on issues involving children. (Was this sensitive to you? Did you keep her in mind as you displayed her school, and new name as if maybe a plethora of children did this, so maybe no one will know it’s her?!)
  • Avoid programming and publication of images which intrude upon the media space of children with information which is damaging to them (Like if this child were to go view your article and all that the world has to say about her and her parents?!)
  • Avoid the use of stereotypes and sensational presentation to promote journalistic material involving children (like your article).
  • Consider carefully the consequences of publication of any material concerning children and shall minimise harm to children (like public humiliation and bullying).
  • Guard against visually or otherwise identifying children unless it is demonstrably in the public interest; (Yet passively you did!)
  • Give children, where possible, the right of access to media to express their own opinions without inducement of any kind. (Where was this child you chose to exploit? Did she have a voice?)”

Perhaps, you should read over The Media & Child’s Rights via  UNICEF.

This was negligence by choice.

A sad portrayal of the damage the media can do when it seeks ratings and money, instead of remembering that they are the voice of the people! 

Every single action was taken to make sure this was a smooth transition and that her emotional and mental well-being were kept in mind. All that you did was name names, identify the school, and expose an already vulnerable child to public ridicule, humiliation, bullying and debate.

Yet, you believe that it was okay because you danced around the rules?

What if this was your child? How would you feel as you sat back feeling like you had to protect your son or daughter from his/her classmates, but then end up defending your child to the adults of the town and the general public, the internet and local grocery stores, and the  PTA?

Adults need to be talking about the hard topics and controversial issues, 
BUT IT SHOULD NOT AND WILL NOT BE AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR CHILDREN!

Stand Up and Speak Out

At the age of 31, I just realized the power of my own voice. It only took thirty years and one article, written by 12-year-old blogger for the Huffington Post.

Society thrives on technology and I’m the old fogey in the corner who remembers when the first cell phone came out and the World Wide Web was the latest trending hype.

Now, we have Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook , Twitter and trending hashtags, for that! Until now, I didn’t realize that the key to reaching the world with just one voice is learning to use your social networks and resources.

Different

“Different” was the name of the article that caused an already growing revelation to transpire to the max. Marcel Neergaard has a voice. As a young member of the LGBT community, he wasn’t afraid to speak out. And he didn’t just speak, he shouted his message. He made me think about how I was using my own voice.

I could be louder.

Fortunately, someone cared enough to just say hi.

Hello. One word that helped move him to action. One word what told him that he was important. In turn, he found his voice. We all have that power—the power of a voice.

What’s the most meaningful conversation you had today? Did you know with a simple “hello” and a smile, you have the power to change someone’s life?

Marcel helped change mine, and he doesn’t even know it. My favorite part of his article came at the end:

This week I will be in Nashville for Advancing Equality on the Hill Day talking to my senator and (hopefully) representative about making schools safer for kids like me. What will you do?

When he spoke, 9000 ears listened and helped echo his message on Facebook alone. That’s just what he did on March 10th, from the comfort of his home, while sitting at a computer; and for all we know, still in his pajamas!

Wow.

What will I do today, tomorrow, or in the weeks to come? I’m not sure. What will you do? Just asking yourself the question is a fine place to start.

As this week comes to a close, I have yet to reach the ears of thousands of people. I have, however, literally been awake around-the-clock. That tends to leave a plethora of time for thinking, reading, and writing.

For months now, I’ve been preoccupied with the power of the voice of the people. There are so many voice is the world and so much shouting, yet so much silence about the things that matter.

It’s as if we’ve learned to believe that our message, stance or topic of choice, is the most justified and correct or we should gain profit from acts of compassion, or we don’t bother to speak up at all.

Every voice matters.

Rarely do our words fall the same way on each ear that hears them. Listeners interpret more than just the words we speak or write. We can hope that your words will be concisely construed, but words are not what reach the ears first. Words are not what touch the heart of a person. It’s not always the message that’s the most powerful part of a message. Sometimes, it’s just the voice.

People were supportive of this writer’s LGBT advocacy and brevity to raise his voice on the matter, yes. But the loudest message he could have sent was this…

He stood up.