A Brief History Of Fox News’ Support For Anti-LGBT Bullying
October 19, 2012 9:43 am ET by Carlos Maza
As millions of Americans wear purple in support of LGBT youth for Spirit Day today, it’s probably safe to assume that few people at Fox News will be participating in the event, as the network remains a constant critic of anti-bullying efforts while promoting hostility towards LGBT people across the country.
Here’s how Fox works to undermine the fight against anti-LGBT bullying:
Downplaying Anti-LGBT Bullying As An Exaggeration
In April, Fox & Friends hosted a segment on whether school bullying had become “an exaggerated epidemic.” The network invited Reason.com editor Nick Gillespie to argue that the national effort to crack down on bullying is “causing as many problems as it solves.”
When Fox has actually acknowledged the problem of school bullying, it’s failed to mention the fact that the victims of bullying are often targeted for their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. As one Fox guest stated while discussing a school’s gender diversity lessons:
Bullying is such an excuse because kids do not bully each other based on gender. They bully each other based on, you know, all sorts of things, not just gender. So using that seems to me like an excuse really.
Ignoring Bullying-Related Suicides
When bullied gay teen Jamie Rodemeyer took his own life last September, both MSNBC and CNN covered his death extensively. CNN launched its own efforts to combat anti-LGBT bullying, including a “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” website and a CNN-commissioned study on schoolyard bullying. Fox, on the other hand, mentioned Rodemeyer’s death only once in the weeks following his death, as part of a segment on proposed anti-bullying legislation in New York.
The suicide of another gay teenager, Asher Brown, has received widespread publicity as a rallying cry for the It Gets Better Project, a campaign aimed inspiring hope for harassed LGBT youth. While discussing his death, however, Fox failed to mention his sexual orientation, ignoring evidence that much of the bullying he experienced was motivated by homophobia.
Condemning Tolerance And Diversity Lessons
Fox News has been vocal in opposing even the tamest efforts to teach students to be more tolerant and accepting of their LGBT peers.
Last year, as California neared the passage of its FAIR Education Act – which would require public schools to teach students about historical contributions of LGBT people – the network rushed to depict the bill as a “shocking” effort to expose students to pro-LGBT “propaganda.” Fox ran segment after segment misinforming viewers about the bill, including a blitz of misleading segments the day after it was signed into law. One Fox Business guest even joked about how students would determine if a historical figure was gay or not, commenting “Do you have to turn him over?”
When a California school tried to institute gender diversity lessons to teach students about gender variance, Fox ran three segments in two days criticizing the program. The network invited anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins to argue that the lessons would indoctrinate children into homosexuality. Fox host Martha MacCallum piled on the unfounded criticism, warning that trying to teach students about gender diversity could cause them to fall behind in math and science.
The network also lashed out at new curriculum proposed for Michigan’s Muskegon Public Schools that would teach students about sexual orientation and gender identity, calling the lessons “topsy-turvy.”
Criticizing Anti-Bullying Efforts
When it wasn’t busy criticizing programs meant to prevent students from bullying, Fox also attacked efforts meant to punish those who engage in anti-gay discrimination.
Last September, Fox devoted five segments to criticizing New Jersey’s newly enacted anti-bullying law, accusing the measure of being too strict and overly expansive. Fox also attacked Vanderbilt University for prohibiting student groups from denying leadership positions to students on the basis of sexual orientation, with one Fox Business guest stating that gay people “will not stop until you’re forced to accept their lifestyle.”
When a Wisconsin school apologized for running an anti-gay student column in the school paper, Fox suggested that the school may have violated the student’s freedom of speech as a result of its “broadly worded anti-discrimination, anti-bullying policy.” Fox’s coverage failed to mention that the student’s column included anti-gay junk science and cited Bible passages calling for the execution of gay people.
Employing Anti-LGBT Bullies
Fox’s implicit support for LGBT bullies is also evidenced by who is on the network’s payroll. A number of Fox employees routinely use their national platform to mock, demonize, and bully LGBT people.
Fox News contributor Todd Starnes, for example, has made a number of disparaging comments about the LGBT community. He has called a transgender college student a “mary,” mocked the attendees of a gay pride parade, and joked that transgender people would have to explain “why they’ve got extra parts” when they arrive at “the pearly gates.”
Keith Ablow, one of the members of Fox’s “Medical A-Team,” is notorious for his transphobic attacks on Chaz Bono, who is transgender. The Fox employee accused Bono of suffering from a “psychotic delusion” and compared transgender people to anorexics, heroin addicts, and people who believe they are zebras.
The list goes on and on. Whether it’s Bill O’Reilly laughing at his own homophobic jokes, Andrea Tantaros referring to President Obama’s “tranny nanny,” the Fox & Friends crew joking about “the one part of Chaz [Bono] that hasn’t been operated on,” or Fox Nation’s reliably transphobic headlines, demonizing LGBT people is a habit that’s deeply ingrained into Fox’s network culture.