Broadside Responds to 'Mental Illness' Controversy

By Connect Mason Reporter Rachael Dickson

After a week of increasing controversy over opinion columnist Michael Gryboski’s article, “Homosexuality is a Mental Illness,” Broadside issued an official statement.

"It is Broadside's editorial policy that letters to the editor, columns, artwork and other commentaries strictly represent the opinions of the authors and do not represent the official opinion of the newspaper," said Broadside Editor in Chief Janice Leary. "The most important idea to realize is that Broadside does not practice censorship and will always remain a medium where all personal thoughts, views and opinions can, and should, be expressed."

Pride Alliance, through co-chair Alex Gant, sent a statement to Connect Mason regarding the issue.

One of the main concerns that we have is that the Broadside actually allowed for the article to be printed,” the statement said. “We cannot understand why someone would write an article that attacks an organization on this campus and that the Broadside, which is a part of the face of George Mason, would put it in the press.”

The statement further remarked, “We feel that there is a thick line between free speech and hate speech and we hope that the Broadside will be more sensitive to the hate speech that they allow to be published in their papers.”

Arthur Gailes, Broadside opinion editor, said that he did not consider the article hate speech.

“The article in itself doesn’t sensationalize,” Gailes said. “It sticks to justifying his opinion, which was that homosexuality is a mental illness, with statistics that he found from different organizations that specialize in that. His opinion more, than actually proving that homosexuality was a mental illness, was proving that political correctness played a bigger part than science in the decision to declassify it as a mental illness.”

“I think a lot of people looked at the title and immediately jumped to negative conclusions,” Gailes said. “So maybe that’s a fault on my part - because I came up with the title - Gryboski didn’t.”

Gailes said that he received approximately ten letters on the controversy.

“I didn’t get one letter that actually agreed with Gryboski,” Gailes said. “I got some letters that were just horrified at it and couldn’t believe that we had printed it. I got some articles that were angry at him in general for his history of writing. And then I got some that were more interested in opening a dialogue so that they could deal with the misconceptions that they felt he presented.“

“Many offices on campus have spoken with Pride Alliance through telephone calls, emails and individual face-to-face interactions letting them know how angry they are that Mr. Gryboski wrote the article, and that once again the Broadside would print another one of his incredibly hateful editorials,” another portion of the Pride Alliance statement said.

Gailes, who started as opinion editor at the beginning of the semester, said that he did not feel he could comment on other controversies that arose from Gryboski’s writing, as he did not have any personal knowledge of them.

As for this semester though, “He had one about Malcolm X that was pretty controversial but this is the only one that’s gotten this strong of a reaction,” Gailes said.

Gailes said that in retrospect, “I still would have printed the article. I might have changed the title. That seems to be a big problem that people have with this article. But I did feel like the title represented his argument pretty well.”