Local police officers speak up for diversity, show students they aren’t alone in sexual preferences

Kenny Chilton

The Lesbian and Gay Peace Officer’s Association of Austin (LGPOA-Austin) joined the Austin Police Department to make hope viral in an original “It Gets Better” video released last Friday.

The video featured several LGBTQ Austin Police Department employees, active officers and civilians, along with allies, telling homosexual youth that life gets better for someone who identifies as LGBTQ.

Among the police officers in the film was Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

“I have always valued diversity,” Acevedo said in the video. “No matter who you are, we have created a safe environment for our employees, and our number one goal is to create a safe environment for you.”

Stephen McCormick, APD senior police officer and LGPOA-Austin president, said the video serves two purposes.

“First, we are showing LGBTQ youth that there are role models in the world that care about you and are here to protect you,” McCormick said. “Second, we are demonstrating that Texas, and law enforcement as a whole, does not have to continue to have the perception of being intolerant.”

Jan Eustaquio, mathematics senior and president of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, said the video proves there is a support network for LGBTQ people, even in the conservative state of Texas.

“They make me proud to be a Texan, an Austinite and a member of the LGBTQ community,” Eustaquio said. “Not everyone is against LGBTQ. Not everyone believes in the condemnation of LGBTQ.”

APD sergeant Bruce Friar said the video was intended for younger audiences who are bullied, harassed or abused for being different.

“Too many LGBTQ kids start to believe the hateful, ignorant message that there is something wrong with them … and too many of them end up turning to suicide as a way out,” Friar said. “I hope that this message would reach anyone who needs to hear it and that they would reach out to someone.”

Ana Ixchel Rosal, director of UT’s Gender and Sexuality Center, said APD extended a welcome to all LGBTQ residents of Austin, including college students.

“Hopefully what this means is that if a LGBT student needs service, they will be guaranteed good treatment,” Rosal said. “It is especially helpful for students who may just be coming out. It is significant to hear that an institution may be willing to help and accept them.”

LGPOA–Austin’s video has reached more than 80,000 views on YouTube. 

Printed on Friday, September 28, 2012 as: Austin police officers create video for local youth exploring sexuality