This weekend Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for Governor of New York, said in a speech that he didn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option." Paladino's divisive remarks come amidst news of suicides by young people who faced anti-gay harassment as well as a horrific hate crime in the Bronx that targeted three gay men.
It is this kind of divisive leadership that makes young LGBT people question their self-worth and gives license to those who use violence to advance their hate.
Tell Carl Paladino that LGBT people are just as "valid" as everyone else and that he owes an apology to every LGBT New Yorker - especially young people who need to know they're OK just the way they are.
In the wake of recent suicides and a horrific hate crime just last week in the Bronx, I would have hoped for better from someone who wants to lead New York as Governor.
Think about how young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people feel when someone such as yourself tells a crowded room that you don't think they're as "valid" or will be as "successful" as someone else.
Think about the bully in the school yard who heard what you had to say. You've set an example that speaking out against LGBT people is OK, so he has license to harass his classmates who might be different.
Bullying, harassment and hate crimes don't happen in a vacuum. A real leader stands up to bullies and sets a tone that all people are equal and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
You owe every LGBT New Yorker an apology, but particularly our young people who need to know they're OK just the way they are. We're listening and we're waiting.