Fox News' inaccurate, defamatory, and dehumanizing coverage of the transgender community contributes to transphobic violence and discrimination according to several groups working toward transgender equality.
Fox News' Sean Hannity mischaracterized a Department of Health and Human Services website dedicated to educating girls about making positive health decisions, taking the website out of context in order to claim it encouraged young children to have sex.
On his radio show, Hannity hyped a CNS News article that claimed a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website, girlshealth.gov, informs girls age 10 to 16 "about birth control, gay sex, and mutual masturbation." Hannity described the website as "spreading the wonders of anal sex and mutual masturbation courtesy of the Obama administration." Hannity went on to complain about "a graphic depiction of sex" on the website, claiming "that's government-run health care":
But Hannity's description of the website is incredibly misleading. The site is dedicated to educating girls about how to make safe and positive health decisions, including promoting abstinence. The website was created to "help girls learn about health, growing up and issues they may face" by giving them "reliable and useful health information":
No story about transgender people is too insignificant for Fox News reporter Todd Starnes to cover as a "culture war" horror story, especially if the story gives him the opportunity to use inaccurate and transphobic slurs in his reporting.
In a June 3 article for Fox News Radio, Starnes reported on a Nashville woman who complained after she encountered a transgender woman in a restaurant bathroom. The story included various quotes from the disgruntled woman's husband, inappropriately referring to the transgender woman as a man and commenting that her presence in the public restroom "poses a safety hazard":
David Staton, whose wife had the disquieting run-in while eating out at Amerigo, a restaurant in the country music capital, has a simple solution.
"There needs to be some sort of law that says if you are born a man with man-parts, you go to the men's bathroom," said Staton. "In a family restaurant, men should go to the men's room and women should go to the women's."
Staton and his wife were celebrating a date night on Saturday by eating dinner at Amerigo - a regional Italian restaurant chain in Nashville.
Sitting just a few tables away was a group of cross-dressers.
"These guys were well over six feet tall, big burly men in dresses," he told Fox News. "The whole restaurant noticed them."
And Staton's wife especially noticed them after an encounter in the ladies room of the Nashville establishment.
"It was a small restroom and she was waiting for a stall," he said. "And that's when she came face to face with a guy well over six feet. She immediately blurted out, 'Am I in the men's bathroom?'"
She was not.
Staton said the man went over to the mirror to fix his lipstick and told his wife, "It's okay. It's okay."
He said it poses a safety hazard - especially for families with young daughters.
"No dad or parent should have to wonder - is my little girl going into the women's bathroom with men in there," he said. "To have a man in the women's bathroom is a dangerous thing. That's just so wrong on so many levels." [emphasis added]
On Twitter, Starnes continued his hobby of making derogatory remarks about transgender people by echoing Staton's comments, referring to the transgender woman as a "burly man wearing a dress":
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly reinforced bogus stereotypes about gender and masculinity, telling a guest on his show that, if his son likes the color pink, "you might have to send him to camp."
During the June 3 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly discussed a Wisconsin elementary school that offered its students the chance to voluntarily dress up as the opposite gender as a part of the school's Spirit Week celebrations. O'Reilly and his guest, comedian Adam Carolla, criticized the event, calling the school's teachers "pinheads":
O'REILLY: You know why they're doing this, though, right?
O'REILLY: Well, it's all about anti-bullying and putting the children in other people's positions so they don't make fun of girls and boys. It's a politically correct tactic that's far too sophisticated for the children to understand and that's why it's stupid, and that's why these educators are pinheads.
CAROLLA: It's interesting.
O'REILLY: Because while they may have a noble intent, they have no idea how children process things. You don't dress up like a little girl when you're five and you're a boy. That's just stupid. Go ahead.
CAROLLA: Putting a boy in a poodle skirt and saddle shoes-
O'REILLY: Yeah, I mean it's insane.
CAROLLA: Is bullying. I mean, listen, I have a six-year-old son, I have twins. He had to ride in his sister's pink car seat the other day for a mile and he screamed like a stuck pig the entire time.
O'REILLY: That's a good sign. That's a good sign because, if he had liked that, you might have to send him to camp.
In addition to being factually inaccurate - the gender-swap day was proposed by the school's student council and had nothing to do with bullying - O'Reilly's comments are harmful to LGBT youth and the people who raise them.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is accusing the Obama administration of intentionally leaking one of the organization's confidential IRS documents, but congressional testimony and even NOM's former chairwoman have made clear that the release of the document was "inadvertent."
During the June 3 edition of Fox News' America Live, NOM president Brian Brown revived his claim that the IRS stole and leaked its Form 990 to the Human Rights Campaign last year, suggesting that the leak may have been linked to President Obama's reelection effort:
BROWN: It is a felony to use the private and confidential tax information, tax returns. This goes back to the articles of impeachment on President Nixon. And this was given to our political opponents, the head of which, the head of the Human Rights Campaign was a co-chair for President Obama's re-election campaign.
BROWN: We need Congress to move forward, we need a thorough investigation, and we need to know for certain if this goes, to see how high this goes. It is not at all encouraging that, again, this was given to a co-chair of President Obama's re-election campaign. That's just wrong.
Over the past few weeks, NOM's story has been picked up by a number of media outlets, including Politico, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News. In an op-ed for USA Today, NOM chairman John Eastman claimed, without evidence:
[T]he release of NOM's confidential data to a group headed by an Obama campaign co-chair suggests the possibility of complicity at the highest levels of politics and government. This wasn't a low-level error in judgment; it was a conscious act to reward a prominent Obama supporter while punishing an opponent.
In fact, NOM's conspiracy theory has been debunked by NOM's own former chairwoman Maggie Gallagher. In a May 10 column for National Review Online, Gallagher wrote that the leak of NOM's Form 990 had been an accident:
You may recall that a low-level employee also released NOM's private tax-return information to a guy claiming to be a NOM employee, who then posted it on the Internet.
From the June 3 edition of Cumulus Media Networks' The Mike Huckabee Show:
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Fox News contributor and radio host Laura Ingraham still doesn't understand the most basic facts about gender identity in young children, but that isn't stopping her from giving terrible advice to parents and school administrators working to protect transgender youth.
During the May 30 edition of her radio show, Ingraham discussed an Associated Press story about a gender variant 10-year-old, Ryan, who is biologically male but identifies as female. After several failed attempts to get Ryan more interested in "traditional boy things," Ryan's parents decided to abide by their child's request to refer to her as a female.
Ingraham cited the story as evidence of a "new gender-bending phenomenon," suggesting that parents are "pushing kids" to identify as transgender and peddling a number of common misconceptions and children and gender identity:
INGRAHAM: 10 years old. This is an AP report. And it's part of our examination of this new gender-bending phenomenon, which clearly is facilitated and encouraged by a popular culture that seems to have concluded that, you know, traditional gender roles are yesterday's news. It's all very antiquated. That we have to have an evolving view of gender. Just because you were born a girl or a boy, so what? Get past it if you want to. And if you want to we'll encourage you. Not just encourage you, we may actually encourage you to go to a hospital as a prepubescent and start undergoing medical procedures and hormone treatments that delay the natural.
It's got to be confusing for kids. I mean I am just a throwback I guess. All of this stuff just seems wild to me. But this what has not only been pushed in the film world and the world of literature. We are always pushing, pushing, pushing. And kids really can't be kids any longer. They have to be sexual beings at age 6 -- 5 even.
[T]his pushing kids into a box -- you are transgender, you are this, you are that. How about they're just kids first. And provides no time for them to grow and maybe grow past their current fascination with -- whether it's trucks for a girl or fairy princesses for a boy.
So that's -- it's normal for kids to experiment. They wear different things. But now it becomes their identity. And I am not saying some of these kids don't end up sexually in different places, I don't know. But I know when they're kids, their brains have not developed. You don't have your -- your sexual being even if you can have sex, your sexual being, from everything I have read from all the accomplished psychotherapists and everyone who has examined this, your sexual, quote, identity is really not solidified until much later on.
I just think of friends of mine who have large families and would be like, get the dress off. Take the dress off, we are going to go out and play some football. Paint. Whatever we want to do. But you're not wearing the dress. But instead it's, 'wear the dress.' And 'we're validating you.' And again, this is not a 17 year old, this is a 10 year old. And other stories that we have shared with you, as young as 5 and 6 years old.
This isn't the first time Ingraham has attempted to shame parents for supporting their transgender children, so it's naturally not the first time she's been dead wrong about the best way to treat gender variant youth. But her ideas aren't just "throwback," as she puts it. They're dangerous, and they're totally inconsistent with the views of experts who've studied gender identity in children:
WND has published a series of unhinged and flagrantly homophobic columns in response to the vote to allow openly gay youth into the Boy Scouts of America.
In the week following the Boy Scouts' May 23 decision to accept openly gay youth into the organization, WND has published responses from some of America's most notorious anti-LGBT activists, each peddling the myth that the BSA's decision will increase rates of pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse.
In a May 24 column, Liberty Counsel spokesman Matt Barber claimed that the BSA's decision was "rooted in pure evil" and joked that camping trips would have to include a disco ball to accommodate gay scouts:
Ultimately, this decision had nothing to do with "tolerance" or "inclusivity." Neither did it concern the best interests of the boys who make up Boy Scouting. Instead, this decision was rooted in pure evil. It had everything to do with money. "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10).
And wandered from the faith they have.
Now come the many griefs.
What a camping trip! Imagine the pup tent. Your son and Jimmy - who's got a crush on him - along with Billy and Billy's boyfriend Bobby, all snuggly warm in the middle of nowhere. But make room for Sammy (formerly Suzie) and Sammy's boyfriend Gary (formerly Gertrude).
Don't forget to hang the disco ball.
In a May 27 column, conservative commentator Mychal Massie warned that boys would be "brainwashed" into accepting homosexuality and claimed that boys would be "coerced into homosexual behavior" because of their hormones:
Why should we be spending money fighting lawsuits and/or endangering our children by knowingly giving predators and the deluded access to our boys? Sensitivity is about not picking on someone who is different. Sensitivity is not synonymous with having our children brainwashed into accepting that which is aberrant as normal.
Let me also point out there is a reason boys and girls are separated in organizations such as this. Amongst other reasons, it has to do with hormones. Are we now supposed to believe that some of our boys will not be coerced into homosexual behavior?
In a May 26 column titled "Texas Boy Scout Massacre," Linda Harvey, founder of the anti-gay hate group Mission America, claimed that the BSA would actively cover up instances of sexual abuse by scouts in order to defend their gay-inclusive membership policy:
They have power now, they will use it and it won't be done responsibly. It won't be child-friendly and it will cost the families of America.
As time rolls on, there will be incidents of abuse. Will the Boy Scout organization report these? Let's not kid ourselves. They just showed how compromised/intimidated/clueless they are. Expect cover-up upon cover-up in the future, eventually resembling the Catholic Church scandal.
And sadly, many parents have no clue, thinking, what's the harm? Where's the threat? An openly homosexual 12 year old in my son's troop - what's the big deal? They don't know the possible risks, because compromised churches have bought the lie and are too sheltered to know what they are dealing with.
Notoriously homophobic WND columnist Les Kinsolving recycled his go-to anti-gay talking point, that accepting gay youth had paved the way for the Boy Scouts to accept other "sexual orientations," including bestiality:
This 60 percent actually approved a measure that said no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts "on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
Can you believe this?
Believe it - and realize that this statement inevitably proclaims that the Boy Scouts will not reject any boy who has engaged in coprophilia, pedophilia, bestiality or any of the many other alternative sexual orientations.
854 adults stamped a "bull's eye" on the Boy Scouts as pederast targets.
Now, bigger and/or more manipulative lads, with cell phones and other pornography resources stirring their sinews, will greedily entrap any and all boys who seem easy prey.
Eroticize the campsite and you eroticize boys to one another and to their leaders. "Gay Scoutmasters" will arrive soon to "help" "their" lads, to train and encourage them - to believe they are naturally "that way."
The recent brutal slaying of a gay man in New York City had all the trappings of a national news story, so why was it ignored by major cable news outlets?
On May 17, Mark Carson was shot in the face and killed while walking home in New York's Greenwich Village by a man who pelted him with anti-gay slurs and asked, "You want to die tonight?" Carson's alleged killer, Elliot Morales, reportedly laughed as he was arrested by police, bragging about what he had done.
The incident highlights a recent spike in anti-gay hate crimes both in New York City and across the country. Days after Carson's death, community members staged a massive rally against anti-gay violence featuring several city mayoral candidates.
Carson's death was also symbolically significant. The shooting took place just blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. And the brutal hate crime comes in the wake of growing acceptance of LGBT people, with three more states adopting marriage equality just in the past several weeks.
But despite the significance of Carson's death, cable news outlets largely ignored the incident, opting instead to continue obsessively reporting on the trial against Jodi Arias, a woman who has been convicted of murdering her boyfriend.
According to an Equality Matters analysis, while all three major cable news networks extensively covered Arias' trial and her plea to jurors to avoid the death penalty, CNN spent less than one minute discussing Carson's murder, and Fox News ignored the story completely:
Right-wing media have given Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a platform to tie reports on increased sexual assaults in the military to the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, contradicting studies that have found no link between the two.
In May 2013, the Department of Defense released its "Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military" for fiscal year 2012 which found that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault that year, 14,000 of which were male and 12,000 female.
Supporters of DADT cited the report as evidence that the policy's repeal has forced an "embrace of homosexuality" in the military and led to a growing trend in same-sex sexual assault. During an interview with WND, Donnelly continued her campaign against the repeal of DADT by claiming the report proved that the "the military suffers a wave of gay sex assaults." In a Washington Times op-ed, Donnelly added that the increase in sexual assaults reported by men should call into question claims that the repeal of DADT has been successful:
If these estimates are used to justify more funding for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office programs, they also should call into question Pentagon claims that repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented in 1993 has been a complete "success."
Fox News ignored the brutal murder of a gay man in New York City, which has been labeled a hate crime by local police, while CNN underreported the story. Even though the attack is part of a disturbing spike in anti-gay violence in New York, the cable networks instead focused on covering the proceedings in the trial against Jodi Arias.
WND columnist Les Kinsolving equated homosexuality to bestiality, suggesting that people who engage in bestiality should receive the same legal protections afforded to gay people in same-sex relationships.
In a May 20 column titled "Why Not An Additional 'B' To LGBT?," Kinsolving suggested that people engaged in bestiality should be allowed to legally marry animals, equating homosexuality with bestiality and suggesting that animals are capable of consenting to sex with humans:
If lesbians, male homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals should have the right to marriage licenses - as a few states, including Maryland, now provide - why should the real animal lovers (whose orientation is bestiality) not be allowed to marry?
The argument that animals are incapable of making a choice is surely invalid in that some animals choose to run away when fondled by humans, while others do not - which certainly indicates their ability to choose.
Have there ever been any reports that apprehended practitioners of bestiality have as high a rate of AIDS and syphilis as do homosexuals?
WND's Kinsolving is a notorious homophobe. During the debate over Maryland's marriage equality law in 2012, he claimed that voters would repeal the measure because gay people are more likely to have syphilis.
As the Boy Scouts prepare to vote on whether to change the organization's ban on openly gay members, news outlets should resist the urge to let anti-gay activists frame the debate around concerns about pedophilia and sexual abuse.
On May 23, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will vote on a proposal that would rescind the organization's ban on openly gay scouts but maintain a ban on gay adults serving in leadership positions.
The "compromise" proposal is clearly meant to assuage right-wing fears that openly gay scout leaders might engage in pedophilia - a fear that was given plenty of airtime in February when the BSA first considered changing its policy:
But the compromise proposal hasn't silenced anti-gay groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and Family Research Council (FRC), which continue to warn that allowing gay people into the BSA would increase the risk of inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual abuse. OnMyHonor.net, one of the groups leading the effort against the compromise proposal, lists sexual abuse as one of its primary concerns about accepting gay scouts (emphasis in original):
Based upon personal and candid conversations with BSA officials at the highest levels, the BSA is fully aware that this proposed resolution will absolutely increase the risk of boy-on-boy sexual contact in Scouting... Enacting this resolution will result in more ugly litigation and will further the public scandal to the BSA, not to mention the tragedy of countless boys who will experience sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
The "gays are pedophiles" talking point, of course, has been widely debunked by child welfare experts and has no basis in reality. Even the BSA acknowledges that the threat of sexual abuse by gay members is a myth, stating:
[T]he BSA makes no connection between the sexual abuse or victimization of a child and homosexuality. The BSA takes strong exception to this assertion. Some of the nation's leading experts reinforce this position.
The BSA has stringent polices that protect the safety and privacy of youth and adult members and has always worked to ensure that it is a supportive and safe environment for young people.
But this consensus from child welfare experts apparently wasn't enough to stop mainstream media outlets from obsessively debating the homosexuality-pedophilia connection in February. On Fox News, for example, discussions of pedophilia tainted more than two-thirds of the network's coverage of the Boy Scouts' ban:
When the BSA votes on its compromise proposal, media outlets should refuse to allow anti-gay activists - many of whom have histories of extreme anti-gay commentary - to hijack their coverage in order to peddle damaging and discredited smears about gay people.
Fox News chose to ignore the historic passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota, opting instead to promote a handful of asinine horror stories about same-sex marriage.
Fox News viewers are likely unaware that three states - Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota -voted to legalize same-sex marriage over the past three weeks. That's because Fox News spent a total of one minute covering the stories, according to an Equality Matters analysis:
While CNN and MSNBC both covered the developments, Fox News made only three mentions of the passage of marriage equality in Rhode Island, entirely ignoring the new law in Delaware.