Fox's Bill O'Reilly condemned a new Massachusetts school policy protecting transgender students, suggesting that teachers should be allowed to out their transgender students to their families and fear mongering that "wise guys" might use the policy to infiltrate girls' restrooms.
During the February 26 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly railed against a new directive for Massachusetts schools concerning the treatment of transgender students.
The directive - which is aimed at encouraging non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity - instructs school officials to acknowledge students by their preferred gender identity and respect transgender students' privacy when discussing their gender identity with their parents.
O'Reilly called the directive "insane," suggesting that "wise guys" would casually alter their gender identity in order to enter the locker rooms of the opposite sex. He went on to argue that that schools should be required to inform parents about their children's "lifestyle" choices:
The Washington Post's ombudsman responded to claims that the paper's coverage of the same-sex marriage debate is too "pro-gay," noting that one reporter called it an issue of "justice and fairness." The debate over the Post's stance highlights a growing and significant divide in the way that journalists choose to write about the fight for LGBT equality.
On February 22, the Post's ombudsman Patrick Pexton published a response to reader complaints that the paper "has a 'pro-gay agenda' and publishes too many 'puffy' stories about gay marriage." Recounting an exchange between one reader and a WaPo reporter, Pexton defended the Post's coverage, comparing anti-gay discrimination to the kind of discrimination faced by African-Americans during the 1950s and 60s:
Replied the reporter: "The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that's the 'view of the world' that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law."
The reader: "Contrary to what you say, the mission of journalism is not justice. Defining justice is a political matter, not journalistic. Journalism should be about accuracy and fairness.
"Good journalism also means not demeaning conservatives as 'haters.' "
The reporter: "As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn't marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn't be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?
When the Boy Scouts announced in late January that it would be reviewing its ban on openly gay members, it should have sparked a national conversation about discrimination against LGBT youth. Instead, mainstream media outlets allowed their coverage to be hijacked by anti-gay conservatives fear mongering that gay scout leaders might sexually abuse young boys.
In the week following the Boy Scouts' announcement that it would be reviewing its ban on gay members, cable news coverage of the story repeatedly forwarded the claim that allowing gay scout leaders would increase the likelihood of child sexual abuse. According to an Equality Matters report, over half of Fox News' and CNN's segments about the story included references to pedophilia:
As the Boy Scouts of America considered lifting its ban on openly gay members, cable news network coverage of the story gave undue attention to the right-wing smear that exposing young boys to gay scout leaders would put them at higher risk of sexual abuse and/or assault.
The Family Research Council (FRC) has been one of the leading voices in the media condemning the effort to repeal the Boy Scouts' ban on openly gay members. FRC's talking points, however, are the same ones the organization used to lobby against the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy - all of which turned out to be completely baseless.
Since news broke that the Boy Scouts would be reconsidering their ban on openly gay members, FRC has been making the rounds on mainstream media outlets warning that lifting the ban would heighten incidences of sexual abuse and undermine the organization's retention.
If FRC's talking points sound familiar, it's because they're carbon copies of the (thoroughly disproven) arguments the group used while lobbying against the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members.
Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins appeared on Fox News to warn that lifting the Boy Scouts' ban on gay members would expose scouts to higher rates of sexual abuse and molestation, after a week of making the rounds on mainstream media outlets to provide anti-gay commentary in the debate.
During the January 3 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, Perkins repeated the widely debunked myth that allowing gay men to participate in the Boy Scouts would raise the risk of child sexual abuse in an interview with host Shannon Bream:
BREAM: How do you respond to those who say that the suggestion that somehow a gay scout master would be a threat to a child suggests that they would act inappropriately simply because of their sexual orientation, and they find that insulting?
PERKINS: Yeah, that's a good question, Shannon. Although there is a higher incidence of men who self-identify as homosexual who abuse children, not every homosexual is attracted to children. We've never said that, no one has ever said that. But let's be real. It doesn't pass the parent test. As a parent of three daughters, I wouldn't want my neighbor, who is a heterosexual, a man, camping out with my girls. So why would I want a man who is attracted to men camping out with my boys? [...]
BREAM: The Boston Globe had an editorial that said basically gay soldiers now serve openly in our armed forces, gay marriage is legal in a number of states. They say Eagle Scouts have been returning their badges in protest, that the country has changed and it's time for the Boy Scouts to change with that.
PERKINS: Well, first off, we're not talking about grown men, we're talking about children who are impressionable and cannot make informed decisions. That's why we treat them as children. And they're going to be in an environment where they are going to be secluded from their parents in many cases. And it's not just about scout leaders, it's about other scouts. Look, last fall the Boy Scouts were forced to release about 15,000 pages from what they call their "Perversion Files." They had identified between the 1960s and the 1990s, about 1900 individuals who preyed upon children. Now that was with the policy they had in place. They still had a problem and paid out millions of dollars. [emphasis added]
Despite the objection of one of its prime time hosts, Fox News' coverage of the Boy Scouts' review of its policy banning gay scouts and scout leaders has been tainted by the right-wing myth that gay men are predators looking to sexually abuse young boys.
During the January 29 edition of Fox Business Network's Imus in the Morning, Don Imus asked Martha MacCallum - co-host of Fox's America's Newsroom - for her thoughts on the Boy Scouts' decision to review their ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders:
MACCALLUM: I think it's a great organization and I think there's room for everybody in that organization. I mean, I think you have to obviously be very careful with anybody who deals with children, whether you're a male or a female in school or in any organization you have to be careful. But I don't think that being gay has anything to do with being a pedophile.
MacCallum may not see a link between homosexuality and pedophilia, but her network certainly does. In two segments on the Boy Scouts' policy later that day, Fox News employees uncritically brought up the fear that gay scout leaders might sexually abuse their own scouts.
Mainstream media outlets are echoing a report that the fast food giant Chick-fil-A has allegedly ceased its donations to anti-gay organizations and causes. In reality, the majority of the company's anti-gay donations remain unchanged.
In a January 28 Huffington Post article, Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer reported that - according to the 2011 IRS 990 tax form he had seen - Chick-fil-A had ceased its practice of donating millions of dollars to anti-gay groups through its charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation. According to Windmeyer:
This past week Chick-fil-A shared with me the 2011 IRS Form 990, filed in November for the WinShape Foundation, along with 2012 financials. The IRS has not released the 990 to the public yet, but the financials affirm Chick-fil-A's values a year prior to the controversy this past July... The funding reflects Chick-fil-A's promised commitment not to engage in "political or social debates," and the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed.
But even if Windmeyer's claim that Chick-fil-A has stopped funding the most extreme anti-gay groups is true, the company would only have reduced its anti-gay donations by less than one percent.
Fox News struggled to consistently cover President Obama's endorsement of marriage equality during his second inaugural address, at times agreeing with his position while still looking for ways to criticize his comments.
On January 21, President Obama became the first president in U.S. history to mention gay rights during an inaugural address, stating:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths - that all of us are created equal - is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall...
It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. [emphasis added]
Yet, when it came to Obama's support for marriage equality, the network shied away from the anti-gay talking points one might expect to hear on Fox.
Following criticism over its recent coverage of transgender issues, Fox News is being petitioned to put an end to its long history of promoting misleading and defamatory representations of the transgender community.
Fox News came under fire after its Fox Nation website paired a January 13 article about transgender health insurance coverage with an image from the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire":
The Fox Nation post sparked a petition from LGBT equality group Basic Rights Oregon, which called on Fox News to "end its transphobic content":
Fox News: stop misrepresenting gay and transgender people with sensational and dehumanizing coverage. Trivializing transgender people's need for medically necessary health care ignores the position of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and countless other authorities on health care. We demand an apology and that Fox News end its transphobic content.
The transgender community has been a constant target of Fox News' anti-LGBT commentary and misinformation over the past several years.