I am very unhappy with the way the article on Hope House was written ["Young, Gay, and Thrown Away," November 30]. The tone is very sensational, there are many things stated that are just not true, and some things Johnathon Briggs wrote are plain rude and offensive.
When Mr. Briggs and I spoke about an article being published in the Observer, he said Hope House is an important program about which the public needs to know. However, when I read the article, it was obvious that was not his goal. He seemed interested in only getting a sensational story to the press. He highlighted irrelevant aspects of the program and made other things up that added a tone of suspense or mystery.
What makes it most obvious to me that Mr. Briggs' intention was not to report on the real issues of gay/lesbian teens and their options if their families abandon them is he never mentioned any statistics or stories on what these teens face in terms of homelessness, suicide, substance abuse, HIV infection, prostitution, sex, etc. The need for programs like Hope House should have been the real story--that no one is caring for gay/lesbian teenagers; that they are being thrown away and left to care for themselves before they are ready; that they are being abused, seduced into drugs, prostitution, and criminal activity.
None of this was covered in the article, possibly leading readers to believe that the program is not needed or that we are recruiting teens to be gay/lesbian.
Mr. Briggs also invented controversy surrounding the program. Much of what is on the first page of the article is fiction. He took statements out of context, and his writing was very biased. It is obvious he does not agree with the rules the residents agree to follow by his statement: "...a set of rules that sound more like a boot-camp regimen than guidelines for a transitional living program." I would like to know which other transitional living programs Mr. Briggs explored to compare the rules.
The section about Tammy Cherry leaves me clueless. Why Mr. Briggs rudely refers to her as "a bird" escapes me. It is demeaning and irrelevant to the story and continues to show his bias. The relevance of almost everything he wrote regarding Mark McCue is again unapparent: political beliefs, religious beliefs, style of his room.
I am very disappointed in the quality of this "news" article and question the integrity of the paper as a whole. That an editor would allow an obviously slanted and biased piece to be published leads me to believe that the goal of the publication is not to report news, but to serve as one of Dallas' "rags." It sounds as if I have been naive expecting a fair, newsworthy article from your publication. I will not pick it up again and will not hesitate to share my feelings with others with whom I come in contact.
I am not concerned with the effect this article will have on the program because readers with whom I have talked have recognized the bias and sensationalism for what they are. Further, we are a new program and have some growing and adapting to do. I am more concerned with the effect it will have on the youth struggling because of their sexual orientation and having no one to which to turn. That they may read this article and not call us because of the rude, biased, sensational way it was presented is exasperating. The goal of Hope House is to help these youths and give them an option besides the streets. That was hidden in the garbage called a news article.
I have learned my lesson.
Robert Ivancic, Hope House Administrator
Editor's note: Mr. Ivancic is entitled to his opinion about the Hope House article, but it is worth noting that he offers not a single specific example of the inaccuracies he alleges. Our goal was to portray honestly and accurately the challenges Hope House faces in trying to help troubled young people facing an assortment of problems and pressures. We have, I think, done just that.