JJIE Opposes Champion of Inequality

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The publisher of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, the Center for Sustainable Journalism, has had a long and meaningful relationship with our host institution in Georgia, Kennesaw State University.

That partnership has helped us grow as a nonprofit endeavor by providing about 20 percent of our total support. For this, for the firmer financial footing this gives us, we are grateful. In return, we have offered a newsroom humming with professional editors, reporters and business staff where paid student workers, paid interns and volunteers soak up the glorious profits of experiential learning.

The other 80 percent of our support comes from earned income and from national and regional philanthropic funders, which support the editorial work. As is appropriate under professional journalistic standards, the university has never made any editorial demands nor read anything in advance of our publishing it. As is probably evident in this editorial.

It has been, and we hope it remains, a professional, fruitful, mutually beneficial endeavor.

We call attention to all this now because of growing concern over the increasing likelihood a new president will be appointed at this institution, via an opaque process, who has a track record contrary to our long-held editorial positions supporting rights of the LGBTQ community.

Sam Olens is Georgia’s current attorney general. Since his election to statewide office in 2010, he has fought against same-sex marriage. More recently he joined other state attorneys general in a suit that temporarily blocked Obama administration guidelines around the treatment of transgender students.

The argument goes that he’s anything but a gay basher. Indeed, by his public pronouncements it’s clear the man has no personal animus towards the community.

And the argument — the legal argument — goes that these challenges, whether they be against the Department of Justice or the Obama administration or the courts, is a question of federal overreach.

This is comforting rhetoric to the supporter of states’ rights. It is frightening to the supporter of LGBTQ equality.

This publication gives voice to young people and their supporters across the country — a colorful, incredibly diverse collection of people stretching from the parks and streets of New York City to the beaches of Southern California and the towns, cities and crossroads in between.

And these kids and their supporters speak to us, and to you, from the city streets and country roads of Georgia: For if anything, we are as deeply rooted in the red clay of this state as the attorney general and the administrators who contemplate his appointment.

We hope, then, it’s clear to everyone that we come from a place of credibility when we say Attorney General Olens’ arguments are jarringly familiar. For this is the language of the wrong side of the civil rights movement.

Equality for the LGBTQ community is clearly a civil rights issue of today. He has chosen to oppose that struggle.

We value our partnership with Kennesaw State University and its foundation, which serves as our fiscal agent. Yet we cannot remain silent as a champion of inequality is considered for its leadership.

We hope the decisionmakers in Georgia agree.

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