PBS to end LGBT series

NEW YORK, N.Y. — After 20 years on the Public Broadcasting Network, the “In the Life” series chronicling LGBT stories in the fight for equality, will end with its December 2012 segment. This Emmy Award-nominated has been a signature series and shattered stereotypes and helped pave the way for today’s LGBT movement.

In the Life Media said, “Much has changed since our programming first premiered. LGBT people now figure prominently in television news and media. Lesbian and gay soldiers serve openly and proudly in the military. A majority of Americans, including our president, support marriage equality. Studies show that visibility is the driving force behind this rapid shift in cultural attitudes toward the LGBT community. As the media organization that pioneered LGBT visibility on television, we believe ITLM played a significant role in this historic progress. Today, we pause to celebrate ITLM’s remarkable legacy and announce a conclusion and a new direction.”

Their organization is taking on a new direction and they will be working with others to create a video archive documenting the LGBT rights struggle.

On Oct. 1, they will be honoring Gill Foundation activist Tim Gill (Producing Change Award), award-winning TV journalist and author Jane Velez-Mitchell (Pioneer Award) and food executives Paris and Christopher Barclay (Family Values Award) at their annual awards gala at the New York Historical Society.

The series has been featured on North Carolina affiliates over the years.

For more information or to watch previous episodes, visit itlmedia.org.

— Lainey Millen

‘Talk’ campaign seeks end to suicide

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Throughout September, The Trevor Project’s National Suicide Prevention Month, people from coast to coast are invited to join “Talk to Me,” the campaign for conversation. “Talk to Me” is rooted in research that indicates improving both help-seeking behaviors and access to care can have a dramatic effect on suicide prevention. By making it okay to offer help and being willing to connect a person with life-saving resources, everyone can help save a life with these three simple words.

“It is vital that we recognize our own individual ability to help prevent the tragedy of suicide. At The Trevor Project, we are especially concerned about the risks facing young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning, but ‘Talk to Me’ is for all of us: parents, friends, family members, co-workers, teachers and students. We all have the ability to let another person know that they are not alone and that we genuinely care about their health and well-being,” said Abbe Land (pictured), executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project.

Raising awareness about suicide prevention in September highlights the urgency of addressing the preventable, third-leading cause of death among young people age 10 through 24. National Suicide Prevention Month includes recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week, (Sept. 9-15), World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10) and The Trevor Project Day (Sept. 27).

— David Stout

Global group brings fight to U.S.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Aug. 28, the California Assembly passed SB 1172 which protects minors from damaging “ex-gay” therapies. The bill, already approved by the Senate and, at press time, awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, declares any efforts by a medical provider to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18 to be “unprofessional conduct” and grounds for loss of license.

Because Brown has not yet made public his position on the bill, international LGBT rights group AllOut.org has been gathering signatures for a petition supporting the measure. “This isn’t just a problem in California or the United States,” said AllOut.org executive director Andre Banks. “American religious extremists are bringing these dangerous practices to more than 30 countries all over the world.”

Banks added, “In the last six months alone, AllOut.org members have lead the charge to successfully push back against attempts to export ‘pray away the gay’ as a legitimate medical treatment in the U.K., France and Argentina.”

— David Stout

Phone app aids Kinsey sex research

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University has released Kinsey Reporter, a global mobile app for collecting and reporting anonymous data about sexual and other intimate behaviors. The pilot project allows citizens around the world to use the free applications now available for Apple and Android mobile platforms to not only report on sexual behavior and experiences, but also to share, explore and visualize the accumulated data.

Users simply download the free app and begin contributing observed information on topics such as sexual activity, public displays of affection, flirting, unwanted experiences and birth control use. Even though no information identifying users submitting reports is collected or stored, the time and general location of the report is collected and input into the database. Users also have the option of selecting their own geographic preference for the report by choosing city/town, state/region or country.

“People are natural observers. It’s part of being social, and using mobile apps is an excellent way to involve citizen scientists,” said Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. “We expect to get new insights into sexuality and relationships today. What do people notice, what are they involved in, and what can they relate to us about their lives and their communities?”

— David Stout

Open actor joins GLAAD staff

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Actor and LGBT advocate Wilson Cruz has join GLAAD’s staff as the Strategic Giving Officer. He will be part of the LGBT media watchdog group’s Development team, helping to fund GLAAD’s work amplifying stories from the LGBT community that build support for equality. Cruz’s involvement with GLAAD began in 1995, when he accepted the GLAAD Media Award on behalf of the groundbreaking drama, “My So-Called Life.” Cruz’s role as gay high school student Rickie Vasquez was a pioneering moment for inclusive television.

“For more than two decades GLAAD has combatted anti-LGBT images in the media and changed the national conversation about LGBT people,” said Cruz. “Today, GLAAD is also using its media expertise to create a culture that is accepting and safe for all young people. From Spanish-language media to sports, Hollywood to the newsroom, GLAAD shares the stories and sparks the discussions that make the world a better place for LGBT people everywhere. I am proud and excited to grow this culture-changing work.”

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said, “Throughout his career, Wilson Cruz has been a strong advocate for LGBT Americans. His work in film and television, as well as his commitment to supporting local and national LGBT organizations, exemplifies GLAAD’s mission to move LGBT equality forward.”

— David Stout

Study: Gays don’t affect unit morale

JERUSALEM, Israel — According to a new study, the presence of openly gay soldiers has not affected unit morale in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The study’s authors surveyed 417 male Israeli soldiers from 22 military installations. Statistical analysis of responses to the survey indicated that for both combat and non-combat units, the presence of gay members had no relationship to the cohesiveness of the unit.

“As we reach the one-year anniversary of repeal of the United States military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, this new study responds to the central concern that an integrated military would harm cohesion,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Los Angeles-based Palm Center, the sponsor of the report.

Israel has allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military since 1993.

— David Stout