County Fair

Fox News Whitewashes Anti-Gay Harassment Of Bullying Victim

February 03, 2012 4:47 pm ET by Carlos Maza

During the February 3 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, host Jenna Lee reported that the parents of Asher Brown -- the Texas teen who took his life over a year ago after experiencing relentless bullying in school -- are themselves now being victimized by bullies in the community. According to the report, Brown’s parents have been targeted as a result of their outspoken demands for stronger laws to “safeguard other potential victims” of harassment:

Noticeably absent from Fox’s report: any mention that Brown was gay, and that some of the bullying he experienced was based on his perceived sexual orientation.

Brown’s death has become a rallying cry for the It Gets Better Project, which is aimed at reducing rates of suicide among LGBT youth. Outrage over the failure of school officials to protect Brown prompted the Houston Independent School District to adopt an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination and harassment policy. And months after their son’s death, Brown’s parents worked with Equality Texas and other allies to lobby for anti-bullying laws that explicitly included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.

Despite all of this, Fox chose to exclude any mention of Brown’s sexual orientation from its coverage. 

Fox’s omission is symptomatic of the network’s broader unwillingness to take seriously the problem of anti-LGBT bullying in schools. As an Equality Matters report noted last October, Fox consistently underreports or completely ignores stories about harassment targeted at LGBT youth, preferring instead to cover stories that depict anti-bullying efforts as threats to free speech, religious liberty, and traditional values.

After all, a core component of the right-wing’s campaign against LGBT equality is the claim that stories about anti-LGBT bullying are overblown by that community in order to promote the “homosexual agenda” in school through anti-bullying policies.

Acknowledging Brown’s sexual orientation -- and the extent to which it contributed to the harassment he faced in school -- would have required Fox News to admit that anti-gay bullying really is a problem and not just, as one Fox guest once put it, “such an excuse.”


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