Press Releases

City Councilman Joel Burns Discusses Gay Tolerance, Equality Issues April 5

For Immediate Release                                                                         
Media contact: Evie Holzer, eholzer@ou.edu or (405) 831-0709

NORMAN – Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns will speak about bullying, teen suicide and about his experience being an openly gay elected official at 6:30 p.m. April 5 in the Dick Bell Courtroom at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, 300 Timberdell Road in Norman.  Burns’ presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Burns is the city councilman representing District 9 in Fort Worth, Texas. In October 2010, he received national and international media attention after speaking at a council meeting about the issue of suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.  Burns shared his own experience as a 13-year-old boy facing bullying while growing up in Texas. He has been a guest on NPR’s All Things Considered, NBC’s Today Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. His speech has had more than 2.5 million views on YouTube.

“Councilman Burns’ message is powerful and poignant,” said Jeff Riles, president of the Student Bar Association.

“He especially has a heart for the Norman family of Zach Harrington – who tragically took his life last year – so his visit is local and personal,” said Taleri Wright, president of United Students.

This presentation, made possible by the generous support of OU Law alumni Don Howerton (’97) and Richard Ogden (‘89), was organized by the OU Law student group United Students to support their mission to raise awareness about equality issues. United Students also partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, Oklahomans for Equality, The Equality Network, Cimarron Alliance, Mothers of Many, OU GLBTF and the Student Bar Association to sponsor the event.