Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Feb. 5 letters to the editor

Anti-trans is anti-Scripture

There is a growing list of anti-trans bills introduced by the West Virginia Legislature targeting transgender persons’ access to medical care, job opportunities and human rights.

Several of these bills claim to protect young people by banning medical care — the same care recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and other major medical organizations. In study after study, transgender adolescents benefit from these treatments. They have reduced anxiety, depression and thoughts of self-harm when transgender youth have access to this care.

According to a 2017 Williams Institute study, West Virginia has the largest population of transgender youth, per capita. A sensible approach would be to think critically about how we can help support, encourage and equip our state to help transgender people live full and healthy lives.

Transgender people are not a threat to our communities. They are not a moral or theological problem to be persecuted or purged from public spaces. They are our neighbors and colleagues, our family, our friends.

Yet, our lawmakers participate in demonizing our neighbors, stripping away life-saving access to care and support. Even worse, they use religion to do it.

It is important for me to state, as ordained clergy, that this is a gross misuse of religion and of Scripture.

The language used for God in Scripture is full of mixed metaphors: God is described in female, male and neutral terms.  Biblical writers often choose feminine-mother images to describe God, alongside male metaphors. In Biblical terms — God is gender fluid.

Gender nonbinary individuals also exist in the Bible. They are expressly included and welcomed into the temple in Isaiah — a passage in which Jesus quotes in multiple Gospels. An Ethiopian eunuch is the first convert in Acts 8.

There is plenty of room in the Scriptures, and in our expressions of faith, for transgender people to find full and healthy inclusion.

Transgender people deserve to have the opportunity to thrive. It is a cruel and malfeasant use of religion, Scripture and pubic office to suggest otherwise.

Rev. Zac Morton

Don’t spend the state’s ‘surplus’ on the rich

The rich West Virginia coal baron and billionaire, Gov. Justice, is sitting in Charleston with his majority Republican Legislature (119 R — 15 D), and they control a Midas-sized pot of gold — our “surplus.” They want to give most of it to the governor and other rich people.

Will we let the West Virginia coal baron, posing as our benevolent governor, snooker us out of much needed and necessary resources to help support and improve West Virginia?

West Virginia’s needs are as great as our roads are poor. West Virginia’s universities and colleges, public education, PEIA and other state programs are grossly underfunded and need to be fully funded.

In Mon County, the people tax themselves with a levy for schools, teachers, support staff and school buses. They also support levies for public buses, volunteer fire departments, libraries, recreation, a botanic garden and EMS, etc.

Mon County’s people are very generous. They need and want much needed public services not provided, or that are underfunded, by the state. This situation must change now, while “surplus” money is available.

Mon County’s people also donate lots of their personal money to support the United Way, Pantry Plus, Empty Bowls, BOPARC, Health Right, Womens’ Health, RDVIC, Planned Parenthood, Salvation Army, school children’s lunches and backpack programs, etc.

We must tell the governor and Legislature we want our “surplus” money used to create and improve much needed programs. Don’t let them give it away to the coal baron governor, his good-old buddies, lobbyists and rich people.

Write or call the governor and legislators. Ask them to distribute our “surplus” to the state’s county commissioners for them to distribute accordingly. They know best their county’s needs.

Bill Weiss

Unemployment ‘problem’ caused by apathy, drugs

Let’s stop fixing the symptoms and cure the disease. Does West Virginia have an unemployment problem or does it have a job, drug and apathy problem compounded by our beautiful state’s topography?

My point is it just isn’t that easy. West Virginia has begun to start replacing the mining and manufacturing jobs we let get away. We will soon have two steel plants, a beverage bottler, a battery manufacturer, electric vehicle producer and several more companies about to locate in this state. All of which is fantastic for our state’s economy, especially when it’s combined with revenue received from natural gas production.

In the 1960s, we were told we were state of poverty-stricken “holler dwellers,” and we bought into that paradigm hook, line and sinker. Before that, we were pretty content as coal miners and farmers.

Little did we know that by Washington, D.C., standards we were the downtrodden, uneducated, starving poor. We, of course, didn’t realize this, since we were working our farms and gardens and mining the coal that produced the electricity for the East Coast.

Now we are a state where only 55% of our population works and pays for the other 45%. Given that model, why would any company want to do business here? And yet they are coming because we are a state of hard-working men and women.

We are finally moving away from a mineral extraction economy and into a manufacturing economy, where we make things for the rest this country and the world.

We may at some point in the future control our own destiny, but only if we get back to the work ethics we had prior to believing we were something less than we are. We have got to break out of the hole we’ve been forced into, step away from the drugs that sap the life from our people and turn our backs on anyone who doesn’t share our vision of our future.

Andrew Price

The case against SB 167 and legalizing cannabis

SB 167 has been introduced in the January 2023 legislative session. It covers the controversial topic of marijuana legalization with respect to restrictions on age, permissible amounts of production and possession, even to the allocation of funds from the drug’s sale to the Division of Justice and Community Service to train state and local law enforcement to identify drivers under the influence of cannabis.

SB 167 ignores one indisputable fact: Marijuana is a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substance Act. 

Schedule I is the most restrictive schedule of the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug because of its high potential for abuse, with no accepted medical use in America, and its lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. National Institute of Drug Abuse research reveals the following risks for marijuana use: addictive for many; short-term memory impairment; alters judgment and decision-making; reduces motor coordination and reaction time; and increases cancer risk to children when used during pregnancy. These facts make the use of marijuana risky at any age.

The bill obviously intends the age of 21 to be restrictive, but the brain of a young person does not fully mature until the mid-20s. The developing brain becomes more efficient and strengthens in abilities like self-control.

The use of marijuana alters the developing brain chemistry: cognitive problems and, ultimately, dependency result. Nine percent of marijuana users become dependent.

Most alarming is the evidence of long-term bodily damage. Research shows the airway and lung irritation resulting from marijuana smoke dramatically increases the risk of cancer. Well known is the cancer risk associated with tobacco; but research proves one “joint” of marijuana contains as many carcinogens as five cigarettes.

Marijuana, classed by the DEA and the FDA as a Schedule I drug, remains illegal under federal law. 

West Virginians need to abide by federal law and heed the admonition of medical professionals. Passage of SB 167 should not be considered by the 2023 West Virginia Legislature.

Kathleen E. Johnson
WV Woman’s Christian Temperance Union