We, the members of the American Family Therapy Academy, express our profound sorrow for the violence at the Pulse Orlando Nightclub & Ultra Lounge, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. History (Why the Orlando Shooting was so Deadly - The New York Times). "The last day in which so many people were killed in one location on U.S. soil because of gunfire was likely during the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee" (A timeline of the deadliest shootings in American History - The Washington Post). We grieve for the friends, families, and communities of the murdered and wounded and stand in solidarity with them. As family therapists, we emphasize that hate crimes affect the physical and emotional health and well-being of children, families, and communities of the victims of violence.
While we decry this tragic act perpetrated against the Latino LGBTQ+ community—the primary targets of the largest mass shooting in United States history—we also protest the rhetoric used to threaten and blame Muslim people for the actions of one man. This persecution of our citizens of the Muslim faith serves to distract from the systematic violence perpetrated on the LGBTQ+ community.
The flames of hatred fueled by the current public discourse, characterized by a social climate of hate speech and acts of violence, have increasingly demonized already marginalized people -- setting the stage for this hate crime against LGBTQ+ and Latino people. Such a discourse of hatred, can contribute to the radicalization of disenfranchised people by extremist groups. Persecution of Muslim people and anti-immigrant sentiment—both impacting children and families—have become tools to get elected and are finding their way into legislation.
The uncontrolled proliferation of guns has increased the threat and danger to those already located at this intersection of vulnerability, powerlessness, and disenfranchisement. LGBTQ+ people are now increasingly persecuted in the U.S. and are potential targets of hate crimes more than any other identifiable group. In the first six months of this year, 14 transgender people have been murdered in the U.S. Over 200 anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation have been introduced across 22 states.
As family therapists, grounded in systemic thinking, we understand the social context of individual and family life and the impact of internalized homophobia, marginalization, discrimination, and hatred.
Through our commitment to social justice and the health and well-being of families, the American Family Therapy Academy will:
- Take public positions and collaborate with others in support of justice, respect, and humanity for LGBTQ+, Latino, and Muslim people, as well as all groups denied privilege. We understand that the intersections of marginalized identities increase one’s risk for discrimination and violence.
- Recognize that the tragedy in Orlando is not an isolated incident perpetrated by an outlier but rather is the latest manifestation of a disturbing pattern of social hatred, which is widespread in our culture.
- Advocate for immediate gun safety legislation and research on gun culture and gun violence.
- Use our knowledge and skills as family therapists, researchers, and scholars to influence the public discourse about the dangers of hate.
- Engage colleagues and students in the discussion of privilege and oppression and their effects.
- Make our services available to those affected who have limited financial resources.
- Work to resist and undo the existing system of privilege and power.
- Listen, study, and advocate against hate, violence, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and privilege.