Fox News attacked a bill in California to allow transgender students equal access to school facilities and programs, inappropriately calling the measure a "bathroom bill" and interviewing a notorious anti-LGBT activist to suggest that students will use the law to take advantage of members of the opposite sex.
During the August 9 edition of Happening Now, Fox News reporter Adam Housley discussed a California bill that would require public schools to allow transgender students to choose which school teams they wish to join based on their gender identity. The bill would also allow transgender students to use restrooms and facilities that match their gender identity.
Throughout the segment, Fox's chyron inaccurately identified the measure as a "bathroom bill," while Housley echoed right-wing fears that the measure might lead to inappropriate behavior between students:
HOUSLEY: Those opposed say we're going too far with students and actually hurts the general population as a whole. They say that kids potentially could take advantage of this and parents will have to start worrying about boys showering with girls and vice versa.
The segment also featured a statement from Brad Dacus - the president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute - who warned that the bill "grotesquely violates the privacy rights and security interests and needs of students."
Fox's framing of the measure as a "bathroom bill" is a shameless attempt to prop up the right-wing myth that transgender protections will be exploited by sex offenders who want to infiltrate opposite sex bathrooms.
In reality, the measure would merely affirm current law which prohibits California public schools from discriminating against transgender students. Allowing access to appropriate facilities and participation on school teams is an important step to deal with the high rates of bullying and harassment faced by transgender students. As a recent decision by the Colorado Rights Division stated, refusing this kind of access to transgender students "creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating, or offensive."
Aside from peddling the baseless "bathroom bill" myth, Housley also referenced the case of a transgender male in a Los Angeles school district who successfully pushed his school to grant him access to appropriate facilities. Housley repeatedly referred to the student, who identifies as male, as a female, adding to Fox's long-standing transphobia problem.
NBC Sports has pledged to expose Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" law during its exclusive coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Since the law's passage on June 10, however, NBC's news programming has almost completely ignored the controversy surrounding the measure, raising concerns about their willingness to report on the law during the event next February.
In June, Russia's parliament passed a draconian law that would prohibit the spreading of pro-gay "propaganda" to minors, raising concerns from human rights activists who fear the measure will be used as a tool of political repression against LGBT. The law poses a special threat to openly gay Olympians and visitors who will be traveling to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Despite the law's domestic and international significance, which received coverage on both CNN and MSNBC, Fox News failed to mention the controversy surrounding the measure.
"Ludicrous." That's how San Antonio City Councilman Diego Bernal described the effort by right-wing media outlets - including Fox News - to smear a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance aimed at combating bias against LGBT people.
On July 23, the right-wing website OneNewsNow published an article criticizing an effort by the San Antonio City Council to update its non-discrimination policy to include discrimination against LGBT people.
The updated policy would prohibit the city government and its contractors or vendors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. In addition, it would also prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in housing and places of public accommodation. It would also allow City Council members to consider a person's history of anti-LGBT bias when making appointments to boards and commissions, stating:
No person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability.
That provision drew the ire of conservatives, who claimed that the ordinance was an attempt to limit Christians' freedom of speech.
Before long, several right-wing media outlets picked up on the controversy, with each new iteration of the story presenting even wilder claims about the ordinance's supposed threat to religious liberty.
Right-wing media outlets have smeared a proposed measure in San Antonio to expand the city's non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity, falsely claiming that the revised measure would limit free speech and religious liberty.
The Daily Caller published a column cheering on Russia's brutal and draconian crackdown on LGBT people, downplaying concerns about state sponsored anti-gay violence and criticizing American activists for meddling in Russia's affairs.
Russia has enacted a number of extreme anti-LGBT measures in the past few months, including laws that prohibit the dissemination of "gay propaganda" to minors and ban the adoption of Russian children by people from countries that allow same-sex marriage.
The vague language of the "gay propaganda" law, which has been condemned by human rights experts for violating international human rights law, makes it especially dangerous - anything from waving a rainbow flag to holdings hands in public could potentially be considered criminal "propaganda" under the measure. The law has already led to the arrests of several openly gay tourists in Russia. Meanwhile, police continue to violently crack down on gay pride celebrations and homophobic murders remain a constant threat to Russia's LGBT community.
On July 25, the Daily Caller published an op-ed titled "Putin is not the gay bogeyman," written by Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) President Austin Ruse. According to Ruse, international concerns about Putin's brutal crackdown on LGBT people are wildly exaggerated. In fact, Ruse argues, America should be learning from Russia's anti-LGBT policies:
Homosexuality and homosexual acts are totally legal in Russia. Homosexuality is quite open in Russia. What the Russians do not want, and this opposition is widespread, is for homosexuality to be taught to school children or otherwise exposed to school children.
Russians understand that homosexuality exists in their society and always has, even when it was illegal under the Soviets and that it exists in all human societies. What is new and what they resist is the political movement to regularize and even celebrate it. They view this as harmful to children and society.
They are appalled, as are many Americans, at how these sexual practices and lifestyles are celebrated in the United States. The state of California now mandates the teaching of homosexuality to school children. Those individuals and institutions in the United States that oppose the homosexual advance are ostracized and in some cases criminalized.
And under the Obama administration this ideology has now become a part of US foreign policy. Openly gay ambassadors are now placed in largely religious countries. Gay celebrations are now held in US embassies even in countries, like Pakistan, where such parties are calculated to deeply offend legitimate religious sensibilities and beliefs. [emphasis added]
Major news outlets have been almost entirely silent on the advancement of one of the most significant pieces of LGBT legislation in U.S. history - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Nine out of 10 voters believe - incorrectly - that federal law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In reality, it is perfectly legal (and common) to fire, harass, and discriminate against LGBT workers in most states in the U.S.
Part of the reason for the public's continued misconception is that mainstream media outlets have failed to report on the lack of progress on ENDA - a bill that would ban discrimination against LGBT workers. In an April 26article titled "Where is the media on ENDA?," the Columbia Journalism Review noted:
A bill that is crucial to the civil rights of the LGBT community was reintroduced in both houses of Congress on Thursday, and you probably didn't hear a thing about it.
[T]he media barely seems to care. A quick Google search showed that only a handful of mainstream outlets wrote stories about the measure in advance of its introduction.
That trend seems to have continued. On July 10, ENDA passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in a bipartisan 15-7 vote, marking the furthest the bill had advanced in the Senate in 17 years.
According to a Media Matters analysis, however, cable news outlets almost entirely ignored the story, opting instead to fawn obsessively about the upcoming birth of the Prince William and Kate Middleton's baby:
More than 32,000 people have signed a petition asking CNN to stop hosting anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins to speak on behalf of America's Christians following Perkins' appearance on the network to discuss the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decisions.
Just minutes after the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, CNN invited Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC) - to peddle lies about the decision's impact on religious liberty. No other Christians were interviewed during the segment, despite the fact that a majority of Christians oppose DOMA:
As Congress prepares to once again consider the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), media outlets should avoid giving platforms to hate mongers who have made careers manufacturing blatant falsehoods about the bill.
On July 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will vote on ENDA - a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except for the 109th. The measure already has 52 Senate co-sponsors, though its prospects in the House remain to be seen.
An overwhelming majority of Americans support ENDA, including a strong majority of Republicans, Catholics, and senior citizens. Even among people who identify themselves as having unfavorable feelings towards homosexuality, half favor workplace protections for LGBT people. In fact, nine out of ten voters incorrectly believe a federal law like ENDA already exists.
With the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee poised to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on July 10, anti-LGBT activists are ramping up their misinformation campaign against the legislation, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants based on sexual orientation or gender identity.