Equality Matters - Fact Check http://equalitymatters.org This link is for use by RSS-enabled software to retrieve the latest items from Equality Matters en-US Copyright 2015, Media Matters for America This Hate Group Leader Has Hosted Most Of The Republican Presidential Candidates http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201512010001 Tony Perkins, a right-wing radio talk show host and president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC), has hosted most of the Republican presidential candidates on his radio show or at FRC-sponsored events. 

Tony Perkins Is President Of The Anti-LGBT Hate Group Family Research Council

Tony Perkins Is President Of Family Research Council. Tony Perkins has been the president of the Family Research Council since 2003. FRC says its "mission is to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview." [Family Research Council, accessed 11/19/15; Family Research Council, accessed 11/19/15]

FRC Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated FRC as an anti-gay "hate group" due to its propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people:

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as "the leading voice for the family in our nation's halls of power," but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.


The FRC also strongly promotes the "ex-gay" movement as a way to combat LGBT civil rights measures, though professional organizations have repeatedly called so-called "reparative therapy" (which seeks to turn gays and lesbians into heterosexuals) into question and issued statements that don't support it.


Part of the FRC's recent strategy is to pound home the false claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to sexually abuse children. This is false. The American Psychological Association, among others, has concluded that "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are." That doesn't matter to the FRC, though. [Southern Poverty Law Center, 11/23/15]

Perkin Has A History Of Making Inflammatory Anti-LGBT Statements. Perkins has called pedophilia "a homosexual problem," accused gay people of recruiting children, and compared gay advocates to terrorists. [GLAAD, accessed 11/18/15]

Most Republican Candidates Have Appeared On Perkins' Radio Show Or At FRC Events

Perkins Hosted Seven Republican Candidates On His Radio Show. Tony Perkins has hosted seven current and former Republican presidential candidates on his daily national radio show Washington Watch with Tony Perkins since the start of the 2016 election cycle. Perkins has hosted a total of 31 interviews with GOP presidential candidates, including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker:

Seven Republican Candidates Headlined FRC's Value Voters Summit In September. In September, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Huckabee, Graham, Santorum and Jindal attended FRC's Values Voter Summit, a conservative political conference co-sponsored by FRC. [2015 Values Voters Summit, accessed 11/24/15]

Ten Republican Candidates Joined Perkins At Iowa Conservative Conference. In July, Perkins joined Republican presidential candidates Trump, Carson, Rubio, Walker, Cruz, Huckabee, Graham, Santorum, Jindal, and Perry to speak at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit. FRC also co-sponsored the summit. [The Family Leadership Summit, accessed 11/18/15Media Matters7/15/15]


Media Matters searched Family Research Council's website for radio appearances of 17 current and former declared Republican presidential candidates: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump and Scott Walker. Appearances outside the span of each candidate's declared campaign were excluded. 

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201512010001 Tue, 01 Dec 2015 09:26:47 EST
What Reporters Should Know About Dallas’ Updated LGBT Ordinance http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201511130001 The Dallas City Council recently voted to clarify and update the language in the city’s existing non-discrimination ordinance, which has protected LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations since 2002. Anti-LGBT groups are attacking the vote, claiming it creates new protections that would allow male sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms. But these protections have existed for over a decade, and experts in Dallas have already debunked right-wing talking points about bathroom safety.

Dallas City Council Voted To Update Language In Its Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The Dallas City Council Voted To Update Its 2002 Non-Discrimination Ordinance. On November 11, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to make minor changes to its existing non-discrimination ordinance, clarifying that the ordinance prohibits discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, and public accommodation. [Houston Chronicle10/11/15]

The Update Does Not Add New Protections -- Transgender Protections Were Already Included Under “Sexual Orientation.” The Dallas City Attorney’s Office summarized the update (emphasis added):

Dallas’s anti-discrimination ordinance was approved by the city council in 2002 and had not been amended since. The primary purpose of today’s amendment was to distinguish between the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression,” which were grouped together in the definition of the term “sexual orientation” when the original 2002 ordinance was passed. The ordinance as originally approved in 2002 prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity; today’s amendment simply defines gender identity separately from sexual orientation, and changes the wording of Chapter 46 of the Dallas City Code to reflect these separate definitions. [The Dallas Morning News, 11/12/15]

Anti-LGBT Groups Falsely Claim The “New” Ordinance As A Risk To Women And Children

Anti-LGBT Groups Are Claiming The Ordinance Creates “New” Protections. The anti-LGBT group Texas Values described the Dallas ordinance as adding new and sweeping language” that “allows men into women’s restrooms”:

[T]he Dallas City Council fast tracked and approved an aggressive and dangerous bathroom ordinance that allows men into women’s bathroom. In a surprise move that involved the Council approving controversial language in a closed door meeting late last night,  without public input, the Council approved the new and sweeping language today that is over 10 pages long. The language is strikingly similar to the same “gender identity” and “public accommodations” language contained in the defeated Houston law that relates to bathroom, locker rooms and shower rooms. The new Dallas ordinance is a threat to safety and freedom and allows the government to fine private small business owners $500. [Texas Values Action, 11/10/15]

Texas Pastor Council: Dallas Ordinance “Removes The Doors Of Women’s Restrooms.” Rev. Dave Welch, president of the anti-gay group Texas Pastor Council, claimed the Dallas ordinance “essentially removes the doors of women’s restrooms”:

The council unanimously adopted a revision to the city ordinance section “Unlawful Discriminatory Practices Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression” that, according to Rev. Dave Welch, President of the Texas Pastor Council and one of the leaders of the Houston pastor coalition, “Not only opens but essentially removes the doors of women’s restrooms, showers and locker rooms in Dallas, as well as criminalizes businesses, employees as well as eventually, churches who attempt to keep men out.” [Texas Pastor Council, 11/10/15]

Experts In Dallas Have Already Debunked The “Bathroom Predator” Myth

Experts In Dallas Have Debunked Concerns About The City’s Transgender Protections And Public Restrooms. Experts in Dallas, including a city official and a sexual assault victims’ advocate, have debunked concerns that the city’s transgender protections have threatened safety in public restrooms. [Media Matters10/15/15]

Experts In Other Texas Cities With Similar Protections Reject The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Experts in Texas cites that prohibit discrimination against transgender people, including Austin and El Paso, have dismissed the claim that such protections can be exploited by sexual predators. [Media Matters10/15/15]

Experts In 15 Other States Have Previously Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws, calling it "beyond specious." [Media Matters3/20/14]

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201511130001 Fri, 13 Nov 2015 10:46:26 EST
A "Religious Freedom" Legal Powerhouse Is Leading The National Fight Against Transgender Student Rights http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201511050001 Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a powerful "religious freedom" legal organization with a history of anti-LGBT extremism, is working to eliminate non-discrimination protections for transgender students. Relying largely on the myth that allowing transgender people equal access to bathrooms is a "safety" concern, ADF has drafted model legislation and policies, testified at hearings, and encouraged the enactment of school district policies and statewide legislation that would prevent transgender students from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity..

What Is Alliance Defending Freedom?

Alliance Defending Freedom Is A Powerful "Religious Freedom" Legal Organization. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a U.S. based legal organization that works with 2,600 allied attorneys nationally on a $39 million (as of 2013) annual budget. ADF describes itself as "an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith." [CharityNavigator.org, accessed 10/28/15; Alliance Defending Freedom, accessed 10/28/15; Alliance Defending Freedom, accessed 10/28/15

ADF Works Internationally To Criminalize Gay Sex. ADF has formally supported anti-sodomy laws since 2003 when it filed an amicus brief in Lawrence v. Texas to defend state sodomy laws on the grounds that gay sex is unhealthy, harmful, and a public health risk. Since then, ADF has actively worked to promote and defend anti-sodomy laws that criminalize gay sex in Jamaica, Belize and India.  [Equality Matters, 11/19/14]

ADF Engages In Domestic Anti-LGBT Extremism As Well. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described ADF as "virulently anti-gay." ADF's history of anti-LGBT activism includes opposing anti-bullying efforts in schools, crusading against a gay-inclusive Boy Scouts of America and labeling the hate crime that led to the murder of Matthew Shepard -- a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten and tortured to death -- a hoax to advance the "homosexual agenda." ADF is also the behind the current national push for anti-LGBT "religious freedom" or "RFRA" laws. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 11/2/15; Media Matters, 12/4/15; Media Matters; 4/16/15]

ADF Is Working To Deny Transgender Students Equal Access To School Facilities

ADF Claims Non-Discrimination Protections For Transgender Students Pose A "Public Safety Risk... To Woman And To Children." ADF claims that allowing transgender students to access facilities that correspond with their gender identity would "seriously endanger students' privacy and safety," and that laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity create a "significantly increased public safety risk primarily to women and to children." [Alliance Defending Freedom, 9/09/15; Testimony of Michael J. Norton, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, 2/4/15]

"Safety" Concerns About Transgender Non-Discrimination Protections Have Been Debunked By School Districts. The myth that protections for transgender students will cause issues of harassment or other inappropriate behavior has been thoroughly rejected by the collective experiences of officials from 17 school districts across the country. Together representing over 600,000 students, these officials all reported that they'd experienced no issues after implementing protections for transgender students in their districts. [Media Matters, 6/3/15]

ADF Emailed School Districts Nationwide To Push A Model Policy Denying Equal Access For Transgender Students. In December 2014, ADF emailed public school districts across the nation to "advise" them of ADF's recommended "Student Physical Privacy" policy, which would prohibit transgender students from using school facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Additionally, ADF offered free legal representation to any school district that adopts ADF's policy and finds itself challenged in court (emphasis added):

Alliance Defending Freedom sent an email Thursday to public school districts nationwide to advise them of a recommended policy and letter that protects the physical safety and privacy of students in restrooms and locker rooms while providing a solution for school officials concerned about students struggling with their sexual identity.


"We advise school districts to adopt the attached policy regarding students' use of restrooms and changing areas instead," the letter continues. "It not only accommodates transgender students, but also protects other students' privacy and free exercise rights, and parents' right to educate their children, as well as insulates school districts from legal liability. If a school district adopts our model policy and it is challenged in court, Alliance Defending Freedom will review the facts and if appropriate offer to defend that district free of charge." [ADFmedia.org, 12/5/14]

ADF's "Student Physical Privacy Policy" Would Prohibit Transgender Students From Using Facilities That Correspond With Their Gender Identity.  ADF's model "Student Physical Privacy Policy" expressly forbids any transgender student from using any facility that corresponds to their gender identity:

A. Use of School Facilities

Notwithstanding any other Board Policy, student restrooms, locker rooms, and showers that are designated for one biological sex shall only be used by members of that biological sex. In any other school facilities or settings where a student may be in a state of undress in the presence of other students (i.e., changing costumes during school theatrical productions, etc.), school personnel shall provide separate, private areas designated for use by students based on their biological sex.

B. Accommodation of Biological Sex Non-Conforming Students

Students that exclusively and consistently assert at school that their gender is different from their biological sex shall be provided with the best available accommodation that meets their needs, but in no event shall that be access to the school restroom, locker room, or shower of the opposite biological sex. Such accommodations may include, but are not limited to: access to a single-stall restroom; access to a uni-sex restroom; or controlled use of a faculty restroom, locker room, or shower. [ADFmedia.org, accessed 10/14/15]

ADF Has Proposed Model Legislation Mirroring Their Discriminatory School Policy. Dubbed the "Student Physical Privacy Act," ADF has drafted a model state level bill that would similarly prohibit all public school students transgender students from using any facility that corresponds with their gender identity:

A. Designation and Use of Public School Facilities.

  1. Every public school student restroom, locker room, and shower room accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for use by male students only or female students only.
  2.  In all public schools in this State, student restrooms, locker rooms, and showers that are designated for one sex shall be used only by members of that sex.
  3. In any other public school facility or setting where a student may be in a state of undress in the presence of other students, school personnel shall provide separate, private areas designated for use by students based on their sex

B. Accommodation for Certain Students.

  1. Students who consistently assert to school officials that their gender is different from their sex, and whose parent or legal guardian provides written consent to school officials, shall be provided with the best available accommodation, but in no event shall that accommodation be access to student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite sex while students of the opposite sex are present or could be present.
  2. Acceptable accommodations may include, but are not limited to: access to single-stall bathrooms; access to uni-sex bathrooms; or controlled use of faculty bathrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms. [Alliance Defending Freedom, 2/4/15]

The "Student Physical Privacy Act" Would Place A $2,500 Bounty On Transgender Students. The "Private cause of action and penalties provided" section of the bill would allow students to "recover" $2,500 from a school for each time they "encounter" a transgender student in the "wrong" facility. [Alliance Defending Freedom, 2/4/15]

ADF Has Influenced Discriminatory State And School District Policies Across The Country 

Proposed Bills And Policies Across The Country Mirror ADF's Model Policy

Nevada Bill Proposed In March Almost Identical To ADF's Model Legislation. Nevada Assembly Bill 375, proposed in March 2015, mirrored components of ADF's model legislation. The Nevada bill ultimately failed after it initially passed an assembly vote. [Nevada Legislature, 3/17/15; American Civil Liberties Union, 4/21/15]  

Failed Kentucky "Privacy" Bill Was An Almost Exact Copy ADF's Model Legislation. In February, 2015 the Kentucky Senate approved SB 76, an "act relating to student privacy" that was almost an exact copy of ADF's model "Student Privacy Protection Act." The bill ultimately failed in the Democrat-led Kentucky House. [Kentucky Legislature, accessed 10/29/15]

Defeated Minnesota "Student Physical Privacy Act" Mirrored ADF's Privacy Policy. A bill called the "Student Physical Privacy Act" that was proposed in the Minnesota House drew heavily from ADF's student privacy policy. The bill was ultimately defeated in the Minnesota Senate after being added as an amendment to an omnibus education bill. [Minnesota House of Representatives, 3/5/15; cplaction.com, 5/1/15

Withdrawn Texas Bill Contained "Bounty" Portion Of ADF Physical Privacy Act. In April 2015, the House State Affairs Committee withdrew HB 2801, which would have prevented transgender students from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The bill also drew from the "bounty" portion of ADF's model Privacy Act by allowing students to hold a school district liable for at least $2,000 if they "encounter[ed]" a transgender student in the "wrong" bathroom.  [Human Rights Campaign, 4/16/15; Texas Legislature, accessed 10/29/15]

Gloucester County Public Schools In Virginia Adopted ADF's "Privacy" Policy. ADF commended Virginia's Gloucester County Public School District for adopting the ADF "model policy" in late 2014:

Gloucester County Public Schools have adopted a new policy that reserves restrooms and changing areas for members of the same biological sex, while also providing an alternative private facility for students struggling with sexual identity issues. 

Alliance Defending Freedom sent out a letter on Thursday commending the schools on this action. 

ADF says they recently sent the district a model policy and encouraged them to respect children's privacy and protect itself from legal liability in its effort to accommodate the needs of all students. 

"We applaud the district for listening to parents and respecting their right to control their children's education and upbringing," the ADF letter states. "As GCPS's policy on student privacy demonstrates, schools can reconcile the competing interests in these delicate situations by being respectful of the privacy concerns of all children and sensitive to the diverse needs of individual children." [WSLS10.com, 12/19/14]

Multiple Christian Schools Have Adopted ADF's Trans-Exclusive Policy. At least five private Christian schools across the country have copied verbatim Section A "Use of School Facilities" from ADF's model Student Physical Privacy Policy into their own school handbooks. These schools include:

  • Abundant Life Christian School, Madison, Wisconsin [Abundant Life Christian School, accessed 10/29/15]
  • Faith Christian Academy, Wausau, Wisconsin  [Faith Christian Academy, 9/2015]
  • Greenville Christian School, Greenville, Texas [Greenville Christian School, accessed 10/29/15]
  • Faith Christian High School, Coalinga, California [Faith Christian High School, accessed 10/29/15]
  • Colorado Springs Christian Schools, Colorado Springs, Colorado [Colorado Springs Christian Schools, accessed 10/29/15

ADF Has Testified In Multiple States And School Districts Urging Lawmakers Discriminate Against Transgender Students

ADF Provided "A Legal Argument" In Support Of Illinois School District's Trans-Exclusive Policy.  On October 19, 2015 ADF sent a letter to Township High School District 211 in Palatine, Illinois, supporting the district's decision to deny transgender students access to facilities that align with their gender identity. ADF provided a "legal argument" in support of the district's policy, in addition to suggesting the district implement ADF's own "Privacy Policy." [Alliance Defending Freedom, 10/20/15; Chicago Tribune, 10/19/15]

ADF Asked Missouri School District Adopt "Physical Privacy" Policy. In August 2015, after high profile protests surrounding a transgender high school girl's access to her school locker rooms, ADF worked with a lawyer in Hillsboro, Missouri to send the district school board a letter requesting the district implement ADF's model "Physical Privacy" school policy. [The New York Times,9/1/15; Alliance Defending Freedom, 8/25/15]

ADF Tried To Appeal Kentucky High School Trans-inclusive Policy With Own "Model Policy." ADF submitted an appeal of a trans-inclusive school policy at Atherton High School in Louisville, Kentucky after a lengthy debate over the school's non-discrimination policy for transgender students.  ADF requested a hearing on the matter, and proposed their own "model policy" instead. Ultimately, the trans-inclusive policy stood even after the hearing, which brought up "possible safety issues for students."[The Courier-Journal, 9/9/14]

ADF Attempted To Reverse Transgender Friendly School District Policy In Tucson. After Arizona's Tucson Unified School District added "gender identity and expression" to its non-discrimination policy in March 2014, ADF sent a letter to the school district asking it to reverse the trans-inclusive policy and instead implement ADF's own model policy, calling the protections a "threat to student safety." The school board and district Superintendent ultimately dismissed ADF's letter, standing behind their non-discrimination policy. [Alliance Defending Freedom, 5/1/14; Tucson.com, 5/3/14; Tucson.com; 5/9/14]

ADF "Helped Explain" Failed Locker Room Bill To Colorado Legislature. In February 2015, Colorado Rep. Kim Ransom's introduced HB 15-1081, a so-called "physical privacy" bill, which would have prohibited transgender students from using the locker room that aligned with their gender identity. An ADF attorney "help[ed] explain" the bill to the committee, where it ultimately died after being criticized for rolling back Colorado's existing protections for transgender people (emphasis added):

A piece of legislation on locker-room privacy was characterized as protection for children Wednesday, but opponents that included legislators, a high school principal and the American Civil Liberties Union said it would roll back protections for transgender people.

The bill failed 7-4.


Privacy has been cited in several states to attempt to roll back laws that protect transgender people. At Wednesday's hearing, Ransom had a lawyer from the powerful Christian conservative Alliance Defending Freedom help explain her bill to the committee. [The Denver Post, 2/4/15]  

ADF Provided "Legal Analysis" For Failed Nevada "Privacy" Act. In March 2015, ADF provided "legal analysis" of Nevada AB 375, dubbed the "Student Physical Privacy Protection Act," a failed bill that would have adopted ADF's discriminatory policy for the entire state. ADF's legal analysis claimed that the bill would "have many positive benefits." ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco also wrote an op-ed in favor of the Act in the Law Vegas Review-Journal.  [Nevada Legislature, 3/24/15; Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/21/15

ADF Attorney Testified Against Trans-inclusive School District Policy In Fairfax, Virginia. Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney Casey Maddox testified against a Fairfax County School Board decision to add "gender identity" to the school district's non-discrimination policy:

One slot, which had been reserved by a former school board member who was censured during his tenure for promoting "ex-gay" lessons in schools, was yielded to Casey Maddox, an attorney with the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom. He argued that there is no legal requirement to protect transgender children — a sentiment not shared by the Department of Education. [ThinkProgress, 5/8/15]

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201511050001 Thu, 05 Nov 2015 10:00:23 EST
Utah Radio Station Co-Hosts Hate Group Conference On "Understanding Homosexuality" http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510260002 On October 26, Utah radio station KTKK, or K-Talk, is co-hosting the inaugural "Understanding Homosexuality - The Politically Incorrect Truth" conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference features anti-LGBT extremists including anti-gay hate group leaders, proponents of discredited "ex-gay" reparative therapy, and peddlers of junk science.

Utah Radio Station K-Talk Is Co-Sponsoring The "Understanding Homosexuality" Conference

K-Talk Is Sponsoring The Inaugural "Understanding Homosexuality" Conference. K-Talk, or KTKK AM 630 and its "Liberty Lineup Radio Show" are sponsoring the "Stand4Truth Understanding Homosexuality - The Politically Incorrect Truth" conference:

Homosexuality in all its aspects is the topic of the inaugural Stand4Truth Conference sponsored by KTALK Radio and the Liberty Lineup Radio Show along with the American Family Association, Family Research Council, and Eos Mobile.


Politically correct public policies and court decisions in combination with the pro-gay mainstream media and educational systems are forming public opinion without conveying the facts. Propaganda is silencing and distorting the truth—the truth about psychology and medical science, the truth about religious tenets and their scriptural foundations, the truth about Constitutional law, and the truth about real people of all ages whose lives have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually damaged. The impact of the normalization of homosexuality on the workplace, the classroom, the church, and the family reaches into every facet of modern life and portends ominous implications for the future of society. Truth can prevail only through education, knowledge, and action. [Libertylineup.com, accessed 10/26/15]

Other Co-Sponsors Have Been Designated Anti-LGBT Hate Groups. Other co-sponsors listed on the conference website include the American Family Association (AFA), Family Research Council (FRC), and MassResistance, all of which have been designated as anti-gay "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for peddling "known falsehoods" about the LGBT community. [Libertylineup.com, accessed 10/26/15; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 10/26/15; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15]

Conference Speakers Include Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leaders, Junk Scientists, And Anti-Gay Extremists

"Stand4Truth" Conference Will Focus On Extremist Anti-LGBT Myths And Junk Science. Panels at theconference focus on discredited and harmful ex-gay "reparative therapy," the "detrimental effects of homosexual and transgender lifestyles," and supposed "[e]ntities recruiting children and youth into homosexualism." The conference will conclude with a "call to action" that includes Liberty Lineup Radio Show hosts "Educating the Public by Developing a Powerful Multimedia Strategy and Message." [Libertylineup.com, accessed 10/26/15]

Representatives From Five Different Anti-LGBT Hate Groups Will Speak Throughout The Conference. Peter Sprigg of FRC, Sandy Rios of AFA, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and Brian Camenker of MassResistance are all scheduled to speak at the Stand4Truth Conference. All five groups have been designated anti-LGBT hate groups by SPLC. [Libertylineup.com, accessed 10/26/15; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 10/26/15]

The Conference Also Includes Discredited Anti-Transgender Commentators. The conference also features commentary from professor of psychiatry Dr. Paul McHugh and activist Walt Heyer, who both have a history of pushing widely discredited, pseudo-scientific misinformation about transgender people. [Libertylineup.com, accessed 10/26/15; Equality Matters, 10/19/11; Media Matters, 6/2/15]

Notorious Anti-LGBT Activists Are Also Scheduled To Speak. Anti-LGBT activists Michael Brown, a radio host who defended Uganda's extreme anti-gay law as a way to combat AIDS, and Dave Welch of Houston Area Pastor Council, who equates incest and pedophilia with consensual same-sex adult relationships, are also scheduled to speak at the conference. [Media Matters, 2/26/15; GLAAD, accessed 10/26/15]

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510260002 Mon, 26 Oct 2015 15:51:42 EST
GOP Politicians, Right-Wing Media To Attend Global Anti-LGBT Hate Group Conference In Utah http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510260001 On October 27, mainstream political figures, members of right-wing media, and domestic and foreign anti-LGBT extremists will gather in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the World Congress of Families' (WCF) ninth international gathering. While the World Congress of Families bills itself as a global coalition of "pro-family" organizations, it has deep ties to extremist anti-LGBT movements abroad, and its gathering will serve as a meeting point for well-known US anti-gay extremists to interact with mainstream US politicians and conservative media figures, along with international anti-LGBT activists who support efforts to criminalize homosexuality.

What Is The World Congress of Families?

World Congress of Families Is An Extreme International Anti-LGBT Coalition

WCF Describes Itself As A "Pro-Family" International Alliance.  From the group's website: 

Organized by the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, the World Congress of Families was founded by Dr. Allan Carlson in 1995 as a pro-family advocacy group and a way to forge an international alliance of organizations of goodwill which celebrate and affirm the natural family as the fundamental unit of society. We now have 42 organizations in 14 countries, on five continents, affiliated with us as Partners and work with pro-family leaders in more than 80 countries. [World Congress of Families, accessed 10/6/15]

WCF Is Based In The US, And Its Entire Board Is American. [Human Rights Campaign, July 2015

WCF Has Been Identified As An Anti-Gay "Hate-Group." In February 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) added WCF to its list of anti-gay hate groups. SPLC designates certain anti-gay organizations as hate groups based on their "propagation of known falsehoods" and "groundless name-calling" about LGBT people. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 10/21/15; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15

WCF Also Uses Its Influence To Promote The Banning Of Abortion Abroad. Part of WCF's "pro-family" stance is an extreme opposition to reproductive rights both abroad and in the US, including supporting efforts to ban abortion. [Political Research Associates, 1/21/15

WCF Is Linked To Extreme International Anti-LGBT Movements

WCF's Anti-LGBT Activism Has Been Linked To Russia's Wave Of Extreme Anti-Gay Legislation. WCF's work in Russia has been attributed to the country's rise in anti-LGBT legislation, most notably the controversial anti-gay "propaganda" law passed in 2013:

Since 2010, WCF has helped host at least five major gatherings in Russia where American evangelicals put their views before Russian audiences. At a 2011 demographic summit in Moscow, the event's loaded two-day schedule of panels and speeches included just one 10-minute slot without an American presenter. 

These gatherings have helped WCF's American leaders establish tight relationships with key Russian government officials, like Duma member Elena Mizulina, the country's foremost anti-gay legislator, who has met with Jacobs in Moscow at least three times and is a frequent attendee at WCF events. This June, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, who serves on WCF's Moscow 2014 planning committee, flew to Russia two days after the lower chamber of parliament approved her gay propaganda ban to meet with Mizulina about crafting her next piece of landmark legislation, a gay-adoption ban. They were met by another 2014 planning committee member, former Fox News producer Jack Hanick, for a round table on the topic. 

WCF has lent its support to anti-gay politics elsewhere in Eastern Europe—Serbia, Lithuania, Romania—but it has had its biggest and most notable successes in Russia. Indeed, the rise of anti-gay laws in Russia has mirrored, almost perfectly, the rise of WCF's work in the country, with 13 new anti-gay laws passed since Jacobs first traveled there. When I ask Jacobs if WCF's work has contributed to this pattern, he laughs and says, "Yes, I think that is accurate." [Mother Jones2/21/14]

WCF Has Also Been Linked To A Rise In Anti-LGBT Sentiments And Legislation In Africa. WCF's Nigerian coordinator, Theresa Okafor, has been influential in advancing anti-LGBT legislation in Nigeria and Uganda:

The World Congress of Families, founded in 1997, has hosted large international "pro-family" conferences - which, among other things, stressed the dangers of same-sex unions to society. The group has also hosted smaller events, including one in Nigeria in 2009. This year, the World Congress presented a lifetime achievement award to its Nigerian coordinator, Theresa Okafor, who has defended the Nigerian and Ugandan governments for wanting to "ban all forms of gravitation toward homosexual unions." [US News & World Report, 10/16/14

WCF Events Have Garnered Criticism In The US And Abroad

The Australian Senate Condemned WCF's Regional Australia Conference in 2014. In 2014, protests against a World Congress of Families regional conference in Melbourne, Australia forced WCF to change its venue several times, and earned a formal condemnation from the Australian senate, which declared the "The World Congress of Families is responsible for spreading homophobic and sexist prejudices around the world, including in Russia, the United States, and countries in Eastern Europe and Africa." [Parliament of Australia, 8/28/148/28/14]

WCF Was Denied, Then Granted Meeting Space At The US Capitol. In November 2013, Illinois Sen. Mark Krik (R) abruptly canceled WCF's access to a Senate meeting room for WCF after LGBT activists protested the event. House Speaker John Boehner's office stepped in to secure WCF a meeting space at the Capitol. [Buzzfeed News, 11/15/13]

What Is The WCF Conference?

WCF Conference Will Be Held In Salt Lake City At The End Of October. On October 27-30, WCF will hold its 9th conference in Salt Lake City. The gathering will be the first that WCF has held in the U.S. [Human Rights Campaign, July 2015]

WCF Conference Will Feature Mainstream Political Figures, Members Of Right Wing Media, And Anti-LGBT Extremists

Mainstream Politicians And US Figures Are Slated To Appear At WCF. Prominent Utah Republicans, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, and Utah House Rep. Kim Colemanare all scheduled to speak at WCF. Other mainstream figures scheduled to attend include activist and ABC News contributor Elizabeth Smart and American Conservative Union Executive Director Dan Schneider. [World Congress of Families, accessed 10/7/15

Members Of Three Different Anti-Gay Hate Groups Will Speak At WCF. Peter Sprigg and Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council (FRC), Austin Ruse and Susan Yoshihara of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam), and Sharon Slater of Family Watch International are scheduled to speak at WCF. [World Congress of Families, accessed 10/21/15]

  • FRC, C-Fam, and Family Watch International Have Been Designated Anti-LGBT Hate Groups By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [SPLC, 3/10/15]

WCF Speakers Also Include Well-Known Domestic And Foreign Anti-LGBT Activists. American anti-LGBT activists Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration, discredited researchers Mark Regnerus and Brad Wilcox, and Jennifer Morse of the Ruth Institute will all speak over the course of WCF's four day conference. [World Congress of Families, accessed 10/21/15]

Anti-LGBT Activist Theresa Okafor Will Be Honored With WCF's "Woman Of The Year Award." Theresa Okafor is WCF's African regional director, and heads the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage, which backed Nigeria's ban on same-sex relationships and ban on gay people meeting in groups of two or more. While defending harsh anti-LGBT laws in Uganda and Nigeria at a WCF gathering in Madrid in 2012, Okafor speculated that Western countries advocating for gay rights in Africa were in a "conspiracy" to "silence Christians" with terrorist group Boko Haram. At this year's WCF, Okafor will receive WCF's "Woman of The Year Award." [Right Wing Watch, 5/13/14; World Congress of Families, accessed 10/21/15

Right-Wing Media Figures Also Will Speak At WCF. Fox News contributor Alveda King, Washington Times contributor Robert Knight, and LifeSiteNews co-founder John-Henry Westen are all featured on WCF's conference schedule. [World Congress of Families, accessed 10/21/15]

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510260001 Mon, 26 Oct 2015 11:08:19 EST
Texas Experts Debunk The Transgender "Bathroom Predator" Myth Ahead Of HERO Referendum http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510150001 Opponents of Houston’s LGBT-inclusive Equal Rights Ordinance warn that non-discrimination protections threaten women's safety in public restrooms. But experts -- including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for sexual assault victims -- from three Texas cities with similar non-discrimination ordinances debunk the "bathroom predator" myth, citing empirical evidence and experience working with sexual assault victims.

Houston Voters Will Decide Next Month Whether To Retain Or Repeal City’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance Will Be On The Ballot In November. On November 3, Houstonians will vote on whether to repeal the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which was enacted in May 2014. [International Business Times8/5/15]

HERO Prohibits Discrimination On The Basis Of Fifteen Characteristics, Including Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity. HERO prohibits discrimination in areas like employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of 15 characteristics including race, sex, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. [Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, 5/14/14]

Opponents Falsely Claim That HERO Allows Sexual Predators To Sneak Into Public Restrooms. HERO's opponents have claimed HERO would allow male sexual predators to sneak into women's restrooms by dressing up as women and pretending to be transgender. [Equality Matters, 5/13/14Equality Matters5/30/14]

Houston Media Have Uncritically Parroted The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Television news stations in Houston have uncritically parroted opponents’ “bathroom” talking point without giving viewers empirical evidence about the impact of similar non-discrimination laws in other states and cities. [Media Matters8/13/15]

Texas Cities With Similar Non-Discrimination Laws Disprove The Bathroom Predator” Myth

Media Matters Contacted Officials In Three Texas Cities With Similar Non-Discrimination Laws. Media Matters contacted city officials, law enforcement officials, and advocates for sexual assault victims in Texas cities with similar non-discrimination laws in place, and asked:

Have gender identity/transgender public accommodations protections resulted in increased sexual assault or rape in women’s restrooms? Has [CITY] encountered any other problems as a result of such protections?


Austin Has Prohibited Discrimination On The Basis Of Gender Identity Since 2004. In 2004, Austin’s city council voted to add “gender identity” to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment. [City of Austin, 6/10/04; Austin Equal Employment and Fair Housing Office, accessed 10/6/15]

SAFE Alliance: “Cannot Recall A Single Incident” Of Sexual Assault In Public Restrooms. Emily LeBlanc, director of community advocacy at Austin’s SAFE Alliance -- a group that works with survivors of sexual assault and exploitation, domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect -- told Media Matters:

I checked in with the manager who oversees all of our advocates--she reads reports on every forensic medical accompaniment we provide and has for about 5 years. She cannot recall a single incident in a women’s restroom in that time. So while I can’t tell you for sure that it never happens I can tell you that it has not been an issue we’ve seen for the survivors who’ve reached out for our services.  [Email to Media Matters, 10/2/15]

City Council Mayor Pro Tem: “Have Not Heard Of Such Incidents” As A Result Of Non-Discrimination Ordinance. Kathie Tovo, mayor pro tem of the Austin City Council, told Media Matters:

Austin incorporated gender identity into our non-discrimination ordinance in 2004; the only notable change is that those who are transgender have a legal remedy should they be denied a public accommodation. While the data would be difficult to track, I can say that I have not heard of such incidents in my years of service on the Austin City Council. [Email to Media Matters, 10/10/15]

Austin Police Department: “Never Heard Of Any Cases” Of Suspect Entering A Public Restroom While Claiming To Be Transgender. Austin Police Department Detective Mike Crumrine told Media Matters:

I have never heard of any cases in which a suspect entered a public restroom while being dressed as a woman, (or claiming to be transgender), and sexually assaulted a female victim, nor have I heard of a male and assaulting another male victim in this manner. I checked with detective Rae Egan who just transferred from Sex Crimes to homicide, she too has never heard of APD working a case like that. Sergeant Benningfield was a detective in Sex Crimes before me and is currently the sergeant of the unit. She may have heard of such a case but, to my knowledge, in the six plus years from when she left as a detective to when she came back as the sergeant there has not been a case. [Email to Media Matters, 10/13/15]

Sergeant Sandra Benningfield also told Media Matters:

We have checked and we have nothing that matches transgender going into bathrooms to commit sexual assaults. [Email to Media Matters, 10/13/15]


Dallas Has Prohibited Discrimination On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Since 2002. For over a decade, Dallas has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations. [City of Dallas, accessed 10/5/15]

Dallas Fair Housing Office “Not Aware” Of Increase In Sexual Assault In Women’s Restrooms. In response to Media Matters inquiry, Fair Housing Office Assistant Director Beverly Davis stated that her office was unaware of any increase in sexual assault attributed to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance:

In response to your inquiry, we are not aware of any increase in sexual assaults or rapes in women’s restrooms here in the City of Dallas that can be attributed to our LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. 


The city’s leadership has made a concerted effort to promote diversity and respect for all citizens and visitors to the City of Dallas. [Email to Media Matters, 9/16/15]

Dallas Rape Crisis Center: Bathroom Predator Myth Comes From “Ignorance.” April A. Mitchell, chief executive officer at the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC), told Media Matters:

These protections are passed with the intention to protect those that are vulnerable to harm in their communities. In our experience, sexual predators will perpetrate under ANY circumstance that presents itself. These types of ordinances or laws do not increase the sexual assaults or rapes for the community. Further, for communities to refuse these basic protections for all citizens will give power to those that would harm others. Last, those that cite this proposition as an “opportunity” to victimize someone are simply doing so in ignorance; not understanding the mentality of perpetrators.

To our knowledge there have not been any problems related to sexual assault and these mandated ordinances by any gender identified or trans gendered persons. [Email to Media Matters, 10/12/15]

El Paso

El Paso Has Prohibited LGBT Discrimination Since 2003. In 2003, El Paso amended its municipal code to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in places of public accommodation. [City of El Paso, accessed 10/5/15

El Paso Human Resources Director: “No Evidence” Of Negative Outcomes From Non-Discrimination Ordinance. In response to Media Matters’ inquiry, Linda Thomas, City of El Paso Human Resources Director, said that there was “no evidence” of sexual assault related to the city’s LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, adding “HR has not received complaints of that nature, nor are they in Police statistics.” [Email to Media Matters, 9/18/15] 

El Paso Police Department: “We Haven’t Seen These Types Of Incidents Here.” Sergeant Enrique Carrillo from the El Paso Police Department told Media Matters in a statement:

We haven’t seen these types of incidents here.  Not an issue. [Email to Media Matters, 10/14/15]

Center Against Sexual And Family Violence: LGBT Non-Discrimination Laws “Do Not Put Women At Risk.” Stephanie Karr, executive director of El Paso’s Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, told Media Matters:

El Paso approved an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law in April of 2003. In our experience 80% of all our clients who were sexually assaulted knew their perpetrator, which is on par with statistics nationwide. Sexual assault is a crime of opportunity facilitated by knowing the victim.   Of all the transgender persons we have worked with, every one of them, has been the victim of a sexual assault.  LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws do not put women at risk of being sexually assaulted.  These laws help foster a culture that validates and protects LGBT individuals from discrimination and violence. [Email to Media Matters, 10/7/15]

Experts In 15 Other States Have Previously Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws, calling it "beyond specious." [Media Matters3/20/14]

Carlos Maza & Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510150001 Thu, 15 Oct 2015 10:28:04 EST
Fox Reports <em>Another</em> Fabricated Bathroom Incident To Attack California's Non-Discrimination Laws http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510070001 Fox News reported a bogus story about a California mom who claims to have been kicked out of an REI sporting goods store for complaining about a man frightening her daughter in the store's women's restroom. Fox's reporting was based on statements made by an anti-LGBT hate group with a history of fabricating similar incidents in order to fearmonger about transgender people using public restrooms.

Fox News Reported California Mom's Claim That She Was Kicked Out Of REI For Bathroom Complaint

Fox Parroted Mom's Allegation Of Being "Booted" From Store. In an October 2 article on FoxNews.com, Fox News reporter Perry Chiaramonte reported a California woman's allegation that she was kicked out of a Santa Rosa REI sporting goods store after complaining that a man had frightened her daughter in the women's restroom:

A California mom who says she was recently kicked out of a sporting goods store after alerting a manager that man had frightened her young daughter in the women's restroom is demanding  answers - and a policy change - from the Washington-based chain.

The woman, who spoke to FoxNews.com but asked not to be identified, said she was shopping with her 12-year-old daughter and the girl's younger friend when her daughter told her what had happened moments earlier at an REI sporting goods store during a shopping trip in late August.

"We started to drive to another store and she said to me, 'Mom, I need to tell you something,'" said the woman. "I asked her what was wrong and she told me 'A man used the bathroom while we were in there and it scared me.'"

When the mother turned the car around and went back to the store to confront the manager of the Santa Rosa store, she said she was stunned to learn that the man, who she said was not dressed in women's clothes and did not appear outwardly to be transgender, had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the employees and other customers. [FoxNews.com, 10/2/15]

Fox Based Its Report On Claims Made By The Pacific Justice Institute. Chiaramonte's reporting relied heavily on statements made by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a California-based legal group acting on behalf of the woman who complained to REI:

The angry mom contacted The Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based law advocacy group, which has fired off letters to both the Santa Rosa store and company headquarters calling for an apology and a clear policy to protect the safety and privacy of customers using public restrooms. The legal nonprofit cited California's civil rights laws, a building code mandating gender-specific restrooms and the right to privacy set forth in the state constitution.

"It's one thing for a stranger of the opposite sex go into the ladies bathroom and traumatize young girls," Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, told FoxNews.com. "It's another to have the sanction and blessing of the store manager.

"Any reasonable person would feel shocked and emotional violated with a member of the opposite sex coming into their restroom," he added. "This man's intention, whatever they may have been, in no way negates the shock." [FoxNews.com, 10/2/15]

Fox News Linked The Controversy To California Law Prohibiting Discrimination Against Transgender People. Chiaramonte described the incident as part of the ongoing controversy over California's non-discrimination protections for transgender people:

California is grappling with the issue of transgenders and public restrooms, passing a recent, controversial law mandating that public schools allow students to choose the restroom associated with their own gender perception. The city of West Hollywood in 2014 began requiring all businesses to make their single-stall restrooms gender-neutral. Similar laws were passed in Washington, D.C., in 2006 and Philadelphia in 2013, where it was required that new or renovated city-owned buildings must include unisex bathrooms.

The California law has been met with opposition, with a counter bill being proposed for a November 2016 ballot. The Personal Privacy Protection Act aims to mandate that people in government facilities would use a restroom according to their biological sex and not based on which gender they may identify with, The law also aims to protect business owners from potential lawsuits for requiring that employees use bathrooms based on their sex. [FoxNews.com, 10/2/15]

REI's Statement Undermines Allegations Made By Pacific Justice Institute

After Investigation, REI Finds "No Evidence" Of Incident, Confirms Woman Was Not Asked To Leave. In a statement posted on their website, REI said store personnel had found no evidence to support the claim that a man was in the women's restroom. Additionally, the sporting goods retailer denied the woman's allegation that she was asked to leave the store (emphasis added):

Customer safety—especially where children are involved—is paramount in our stores. Whenever we receive a customer concern about safety, we take it seriously. We investigate it thoroughly from all sides, which we are doing in this case. In full transparency, we have not had an opportunity to speak directly with the customer since the incident, but have made that request.

To date, based upon our investigation, which includes reviewing relevant video footage, we have found no evidence to suggest that a man entered the women's restroom on the date in question. As a co-op, we are owned by our members and so we focus huge energy on ensuring that experiences in our stores are overwhelmingly positive.

On the subject that is being discussed in this thread, we want to clarify that when you visit an REI store, you will see that we have bathrooms designated as men's and women's, as required by California state law. Our practice is -- and has always been -- to comply with applicable state law in all of our store locations.

The disagreement between the customer and our staff was not consistent with a usual experience in REI and we have asked to speak with the customer to understand how we could improve our service in the future. As we have said before, however, the customer was not asked to leave the store and she is welcome to come back at any time. [REI Newsroom, accessed 10/7/15

Pacific Justice Institute Is A Hate Group With A History Of Fabricating Bathroom Incidents

The Pacific Justice Institute Has Been Designated An Anti-Gay Hate Group. The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed PJI as an anti-LGBT hate group since 2014 -- a designation reserved for groups that knowingly spread falsehoods about LGBT people and engage in groundless, repeated name-calling. [Truth Wins Out, 2/28/14]

PJI Previously Fabricated A Story About Transgender Bathroom Access. In 2013, the PJI was criticized after being caught fabricating a story about a transgender Colorado student who it said was harassing girls in a school bathroom. Fox Nation reported that bogus story without issuing a retraction. [Media Matters, 12/29/13]

Fox Was Recently Duped By Another Bogus PJI Story About LGBT People. In February 2015, Fox News contributor Todd Starnes fell for another another bogus PJI horror story about anti-gay students being bullied at a California high school. [Media Matters, 2/19/15]

PJI Has Used The REI Story To Advocate For A Rollback Of Non-Discrimination Protections. In a September 28 press release, PJI used the REI incident to advocate for the passage of its Personal Privacy Protection Act:

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "Retailers and other places of public accommodation face significant liability if they do not take adequate steps to ensure the safety and privacy of their restrooms.  This incident raises serious concerns about the policies and practices of REI, and it appears that political correctness is putting young girls at risk."

Earlier this year, PJI attorneys drafted the Personal Privacy Protection Act, a statewide initiative that is currently gathering signatures.  The PPPA focuses on sensitive facilities like restrooms and seeks to encourage businesses to protect customer privacy. [Pacific Justice Institute, 9/28/15]

  • The Personal Privacy Protection Act Would Restrict Transgender People's Access To Bathrooms That Correspond With Their Gender Identity. [Los Angeles Times, 4/21/15]

Fox Has Repeatedly Promoted Horror Stories About Transgender Bathroom Access

Fox News Has Promoted Harassment Fears About Transgender Access To Restrooms. Fox News has repeatedly invoked fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms to attack equal access to public accommodations for transgender people. [Equality Matters6/5/132/27/138/14/1310/15/13, 10/30/14]

Independent Experts Have Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws, calling it "beyond specious." [Media Matters3/20/14]

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201510070001 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:10:44 EST
STUDY: Fox News Didn't Host A Single Transgender Guest Over Nine Months Of Coverage http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509150001 Though Fox News regularly features segments and news headlines covering stories related to the transgender community, the network rarely hosts people who openly identify as transgender during its news programming. In nine months of covering transgender issues, Fox News didn't host a single openly transgender guest to speak during nearly thirty transgender-focused segments between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015.

Fox News Didn't Host A Single Openly Transgender Guest In Nine Months Of Segments

Fox News Regularly Covers Transgender Issues Without Including Transgender Voices. Between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015, Fox News aired 44 news alerts and 27 segments focusing on transgender issues. Of Fox's coverage, only two news alerts included commentary from a person who openly identifies as transgender.

Two News Alerts Included Trans Commentary, But Both Featured The Same Pre-Recorded Nine Second Clip. A nine second clip of Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, was aired twice on April 4, 2015 in news alerts covering gender-affirming surgery for a transgender inmate in California.

Fox News Didn't Host A Single Transgender Guest Over Nine Months Of Transgender Coverage.  Between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015, Fox News aired 27 segments featuring guests discussing issues related to the transgender community. Not a single guest was transgender.


Media Matters used IQMedia and Nexis to search Fox News between September 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015 for the terms "transgender!," "gender identity," "sex change," "cross-dress!," "transsexual!," "gender neutral," "genderless," "male-to-female," "female-to-male," "male to female," "female to male," "Manning," and "Jenner." 

To assess total coverage on Fox News, Media Matters tracked both segments and news alerts that focused on transgender issues. Segments were defined as substantive discussions between at least two speakers about the topic. News alerts were defined as an intentional, network-prompted mention of a transgender news story or individual, but without a substantive discussion between two or more speakers. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day's news cycle were excluded. Passing mentions, like remarks about Caitlyn Jenner's transition during segments about her car accident, were not included. Discussions about broad LGBT protections, like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, that were not primarily focused on protections for transgender people were not included.

To document the guests invited on Fox News, Media Matters tracked all segments focusing on transgender issues that included commentary from at least one guest who wasn't the show's host or anchor. Segments that aired pre-recorded interviews were counted. Network reporters and correspondents providing news updates or packaged reports were not counted as guests. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day's news cycle were excluded.

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509150001 Tue, 15 Sep 2015 10:24:55 EST
Major News Outlets Fail To Identify The Hate Group Representing Kim Davis http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509110001 Major news outlets have almost entirely failed to identify Liberty Counsel -- the group defending Rowan County clerk Kim Davis -- as an anti-LGBT "hate group," often only referring to the group as  a "Christian" or "conservative" legal organization.

Liberty Counsel Is At The Center Of The Kim Davis Controversy

Liberty Counsel Is Representing Kim Davis In Litigation Over Her Refusal To Issue Marriage Licenses. In the legal battle over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same and opposite-sex couples, Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is being represented at no charge by Liberty Counsel.  [Liberty Counsel, 9/4/15]

Liberty Counsel Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. Liberty Counsel is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active anti-LGBT hate groups due to its anti-LGBT extremism:

Founded in 1989 and based in Orlando, Fla., the Liberty Counsel is well known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric. Mat Staver, the group's president, co-founder and former dean at the Liberty University School of Law, has claimed that with full marriage equality, everyone will decide to be gay and society will "cease to exist." (He also has linked homosexuality to rampant increases in disease, falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse.) [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2/09/15]

  • SPLC Designates Certain Anti-Gay Organizations As Hate Groups Based On Their "Propagation Of Known Falsehoods" And "Groundless Name-Calling" About LGBT People. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15]

Liberty Counsel Co-Founder Mat Staver Has A Well-Documented History Of Anti-LGBT Extremism. Mat Staver, the group's co-founder and public face, has a well-documented history of anti-LGBT work and rhetoric:

Attorney Mathew Staver and his wife, Anita, founded Liberty Counsel in 1989. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, added the law firm to its roster of anti-LGBT hate groups in 2014, citing the group's belief that same-sex marriage will destroy the "bedrock of society" and its support for gay conversion therapy.

Staver himself went as far as to speak approvingly of tough anti-gay laws in foreign countries like Russia in a 2014 appearance on "Faith and Freedom" radio.


Staver's takes on subjects including Mitt Romney and LGBT history month have also been eyebrow-raising. He blamed the former Massachusetts governor's unwillingness to embrace social issues for the legalization of gay marriage in four states, and called public schools' celebration of LGBT figures in history a "sexual assault on our children."

Most recently, Staver compared Davis' plight to that of Jews in Nazi Germany in an interview on Christian radio network VCY America. [Talking Points Memo, emphasis added, 9/7/15]

Major News Outlets Have Repeatedly Failed To Identify Liberty Counsel As A Designated Hate Group

Associated Press Had Labeled Liberty Counsel A "Christian Firm." The Associated Press has repeatedly referred to Liberty Counsel as a "Christian firm" in its reporting on the Kim Davis controversy:

  • Mat Staver Is "With The Christin Firm Liberty Counsel."  [Associated Press, 9/9/15]
  • Davis's Attorneys Are "With The Christian Law Firm Liberty Counsel." [Associated Press, 9/9/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Is "The Christian Law Firm Representing Davis." [Associated Press, 9/8/15]  
  • Liberty Counsel Is "The Christian Law Firm Representing The Clerk." [Associated Press, 8/13/15]

Wall Street Journal Described Liberty Counsel's Focus To Be On "Religious Freedom Issues." The Wall Street Journal described the Liberty Counsel as "a nonprofit firm that focuses on religious freedom issues." [Wall Street Journal, 9/7/15]

Reuters Repeatedly Characterized Liberty Counsel As "Religious Advocacy Group." Reuters has frequently identified Liberty Counsel as a "religious advocacy organization" in its Kim Davis reporting:

  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Florida-Based Christian Religious Advocacy Organization." [Reuters, 9/3/15]
  • Mat Staver Is "The Founder Of Christian Religious Advocacy Group Liberty Counsel." [Reuters, 9/8/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Is A "Non-Profit Legal Advocacy Group." [Reuters, 9/8/15]
  • Kim Davis Is "Being Legally Represented At No Cost By Liberty Counsel, A Florida-based Christian Religious Advocacy Organization." [Reuters, 9/3/15]
  • Liberty Counsel "Provides Pro Bono Representation Related to Issues Of 'Religious Freedom, The Sanctity Of Life And The Family.'" [Reuters, 8/13/15]

The New York Times Referred To Liberty Counsel As A Conservative Group. Though The New York Times has occasionally noted the group's history of anti-LGBT activism, the paper repeatedly described Liberty Counsel as a conservative legal group in its reporting on Kim Davis:

  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Nonprofit Organization... That Specializes In Religious Exceptions Cases." [The New York Times, 8/14/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Conservative Group." [The New York Times,9/1/15]
  • Mat Staver Is The "Founder And Chairman Of Liberty Counsel, The Conservative Legal Group Representing Ms. Davis." [The New York Times, 9/4/15]    
  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Legal Nonprofit That Has Been On The Front Lines Of The Same-Sex Marriage Fight For Roughly Two Decades." [The New York Times, 9/2/15]

The Washington Post Repeatedly Identified Liberty Counsel As A "Christian Legal Organization." Though the Washington Post once identified Liberty Counsel as an "anti-LGBT hate group," the paper typically referred to Liberty Counsel as a "Christian" legal group:

  • Liberty Counsel Is "A Christian Legal Aid Group." [The Washington Post, 9/1/15]  
  • Mat Staver Is "The Founder And Chairman Of Liberty Counsel, The Christian Legal Organization Representing Davis. [The Washington Post, 9/4/15]
  • Mat Staver Is "With The Christian Firm Liberty Counsel." [The Washington Post, 9/9/15]
  • Liberty Counsel Has Been Labeled An "Anti-LGBT Hate Group." [The Washington Post, 9/2/15
Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201509110001 Fri, 11 Sep 2015 10:50:25 EST
STUDY:&nbsp;Houston Media Help Misrepresent Equal Rights Ordinance http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201508130001 Television news stations in Houston have misrepresented the city's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which will be up for public repeal in November. Media outlets have uncritically parroted myths about the ordinance's protections for transgender people and failed to tell viewers that HERO prohibits discrimination on the basis of a wide range of characteristics, including sex, race, and religion. 

Houston Voters Will Decide On Equal Rights Ordinance This November

Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance Prohibits Discrimination On 15 Characteristics. Enacted in May 2014, HERO prohibits discrimination in areas like employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of 15 characteristics including race, sex, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. [Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, accessed 8/13/15]

Texas Supreme Court Decided HERO Must Be Repealed Or Put To A Vote. After opponents of the ordinance organized a signature-collection campaign to challenge city hall, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in July that HERO must either be repealed or put up for a city-wide vote. The City Council voted to send HERO to the voters, setting up a ballot fight over whether the ordinance will remain on the books. [Dallas Voice8/5/15]

The Majority Of Discrimination Complaints Filed Since HERO's Passage Have Involved Race, Sex, And Age. According to Houston Equality, a group working to defend HERO, the overwhelming majority of cases of discrimination reported to the City of Houston's Office of the Inspector General in the months since HERO was approved by the City Council concerned race, sex, and age:

Since May 28, 2014, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance has NOT been in e­ffect as a result of attempts to repeal the law by opponents.

Cases of discrimination have been reported to the City of Houston's Office of the Inspector General. These reports were made by people who were informed enough to contact the OIG's office, but consider all of the cases that have gone unreported.

Below is a breakdown of the types of discrimination that have been reported to the City between May 28, 2014 and January 15, 2015.

[Houston Equality, accessed 8/13/15]

Opponents Have Peddled Baseless 'Bathroom Horror Stories' To Attack HERO

Opponents Falsely Claim That HERO Allows Sexual Predators To Sneak Into Restrooms. HERO's opponents, including Fox News' Mike Huckabee and Texas Values' Jonathan Saenz, have claimed since the ordinance was introduced that its ban on discrimination against transgender people would allow male sexual predators to dress up as women and sneak into women's restrooms. [Equality Matters, 5/13/14 and 5/30/14]

Independent Experts Have Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws, calling it "beyond specious." [Media Matters3/20/14]

Houston Media Misrepresent HERO While Repeating Opponents' Bathroom Myth

Houston Outlets Rarely Mentioned Non-LGBT Protections In HERO. In the two weeks following the Texas Supreme Court's decision, Houston's ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates focused on HERO's protections for the LGBT community - including repeating critics' false talking points about public restrooms - while ignoring its broad protections for other groups:

  • 40% Of All HERO Coverage Included Discussion Of HERO's Impact On Bathrooms Or B-roll Footage Of Restrooms
  • Less Than 10% Of HERO Coverage Noted That HERO Protects Classes Other Than Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity. 

Media Outlets Repeated Opponents' Bathroom Myth In Coverage Of HERO. In their scripts and choice of B-roll footage - scene setting video shown during a news report - in stories about HERO, local TV media outlets repeatedly alluded to unfounded concerns about bathroom safety:


  • Both Fox And CBS Included B-roll Footage Of Restrooms Without Commentary In Over Half Of Their HERO Coverage.

Houston Media Outlets Previously Failed To Debunk Myths About HERO. During coverage of HERO in 2014, Houston media outlets uncritically repeated misinformation about the measure, including the transgender bathroom myth and concerns about religious liberty. [Equality Matters, 6/27/15]

This post has been updated for clarity.


Media Matters used IQMedia to search Houston's NBC affiliate KPRC, CBS affiliate KHOU, ABC affiliate KTRK, and Fox affiliate KRIV, between July 24 and August 7 for the terms "discrimination," "nondiscrimination," "non-discrimination," "anti-discrimination," "antidiscrimination," Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, "HERO," "equal rights," and "ordinance." Coverage was categorized as mentioning the bathroom myth if either commentary on the ordinance's impact on bathrooms and/or B-roll footage of bathroom signs were included. Four KRIV segments covering a separate petition submitted to Houston City Hall by anti-gay activist Dave Wilson seeking to ban transgender people from public restrooms were excluded from analysis. Reruns, teases for upcoming segments, and passing mentions in the course of reports about other topics were also excluded. 

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201508130001 Thu, 13 Aug 2015 15:55:42 EST
The "First Amendment Defense Act" Is The Next Attack on LGBT Rights http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201507280001 In response to the Supreme Court's historic marriage equality ruling, conservative media has endorsed a newly proposed federal bill called the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA). Though conservatives have touted FADA as an effort to protect religious liberty, critics warn the bill would undermine the government's ability to combat anti-gay discrimination.

Conservative Media Rallies Behind "First Amendment Defense Act"

Conservative Republican Lawmakers Introduce "First Amendment Defense Act" In Congress. On June 17, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA) in Congress. [Deseret News, 5/18/15]

FADA Bars Federal "Discriminatory Action" Against Those Who Oppose Homosexuality, Same-Sex Marriage. According to the text of FADA:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. [H.R. 2802, introduced 6/17/15]

National Review Online: FADA Would Prevent "Punishing The Exercise Of Religion." Writingin the National Review Online, editor Rich Lowry argued that supporters of same-sex marriage should endorse FADA if they "truly have no interest in punishing the exercise of religion they find objectionable":

If supporters of same-sex marriage truly have no interest in punishing the exercise of religion they find objectionable, they can sign off on legislation to prevent it. Utah senator Mike Lee, a Republican, has a bill called the First Amendment Defense Act — yes, it's come to that — protecting organizations from government retaliation over their opposition to gay marriage. [National Review Online, 6/30/15]

Hot Air: FADA Would "Keep Progressives From Using... The IRS To Destroy Churches." In a post for Hot Air, Ed Morrissey claimed FADA would protect churches from being destroyed by the IRS:

The current FADA would at least keep progressives from using the massively destructive power of the IRS to destroy churches and the benefits they provide to American communities, which is one key reason why the tax exemption exists in the first place. Republican leadership in both the House and Senate should expedite the process for FADA, and perhaps set an example for the states to follow.[Hot Air, 7/13/15]

Daily Signal: FADA Is "Common Sense" Protection For Opponents Of Same-Sex Marriage. Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, endorsed FADA in a post for The Daily Signal, writing:

FADA is a common sense policy. It would ensure that no federal agency will ever revoke non-profit tax-exempt status or deny grants, contracts, accreditation, or licenses to individuals or institutions for following their faiths' teachings about the nature of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.


But the politics of FADA are just as important as the policy. Far too few appreciate the grave risks to religious liberty in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, and the most animated participants in the debate so far are those on the left. The best way to draw attention to this crucial issue and rally the American people is swift action designed to generate public awareness and maximize the contrast with the left's effort to trample over freedom of conscience. [The Daily Signal, 7/16/15]

RedState Instructs Readers To Call Congressional Reps In Support Of FADA. A "Member Diary" on RedState.com urged readers to call members of Congress in support of the legislation. [RedState.com, 6/26/15]

Anti-LGBT Organizations, Including Hate Groups Endorse FADA

Family Research Council: FADA Is "Vital Legislation." In a press release immediately following FADA's introduction, the Family Research Council (FRC) praised FADA and urged Congress to pass the bill:

The First Amendment Defense Act reflects our nation's history of recognizing, respecting and protecting the moral and religious beliefs of people and faith-based organizations. This common-sense measure would prevent the federal government from penalizing someone because they hold to a view of marriage as between one man and one woman.


We urge Congress to act to pass this vital legislation. [Family Research Council, 6/17/15]

  • FRC Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [Talking Points Memo, 11/24/10]

The American Family Association Issues Action Alert In Support of FADA. The American Family Association (AFA) issued an "Action Alert" to "one million-plus friends" in support of FADA:

The American Family Association is encouraging Americans to contact their U.S. representatives about this newly proposed legislation that will protect churches and faith-based organizations from government penalties or actions regarding their religious convictions. [American Family Association, 6/20/15]

  • AFA Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 7/24/15]

Liberty Counsel Calls for "Quick And Decisive Action" On FADA. The action arm of the Liberty Counsel called on Congress to pass FADA and announced it would hand deliver petitions advocating for FADA to House and Senate leadership:

Liberty Counsel Action is calling for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act as soon as possible.

We are calling for quick and decisive action on the bill!


On Tuesday, Liberty Counsel Action will hand deliver your petition calling for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act to the heads of these two committees, and to the House and Senate leadership. [Liberty Counsel Action, 6/20/15]

  • Liberty Counsel Has Been Has Been Designated A Hate Group By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [LGBTQ Nation, 3/3/14]

National Organization For Marriage "Doing All We Can" To Pass FADA. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced its support for RFRA, writing:

We are doubling our efforts at NOM, doing all we can to help Senator Lee and Representative Labrador move their vital legislation through the Senate and the House of Representatives. On your behalf, we will always defend the right of all citizens to live out their religious or moral beliefs without fear of discrimination or even prosecution. There's no question that we are standing behind FADA — and we urge you to do so, as well. [National Organization for Marriage, 6/19/15]

FADA Would Codify A Broad Right To Federal Anti-Gay Discrimination 

ACLU: FADA Would "Open A Pandora's Box Of Taxpayer Funded Discrimination." Ian S. Thompson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, highlighted FADA's far-reaching consequences:

[P]rominent members of the House of Representatives, as well as leading anti-LGBT organizations, are pushing a bill - disingenuously titled the First Amendment Defense Act - that would open the door to unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, and unmarried couples.

Its parade of horribles would:

  • allow federal contractors or grantees, including those that provide important social services like homeless shelters or drug treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people or anyone who has an intimate relationship outside of a marriage
  • let commercial landlords violate longstanding fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother based on the religious belief that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage
  • permit a university to continue to receive federal financial assistance even when it fires an unmarried teacher simply for becoming pregnant
  • permit government employees to discriminate against married same-sex couples and their families - federal employees could refuse to process tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks for all married same-sex couples
  • allow businesses to discriminate by refusing to let gay or lesbian employees care for their sick spouse, in violation of family medical leave laws [ACLU, 7/20/15]

FADA Would "Nullify" Current Federal LGBT Protections.  Slate'sMark Joseph Stern described the impact FADA would have on existing federal protections for LGBT people:

What effect would all of this densely packed legalese have in practice? To start, it would instantly revoke every federal gay rights measure ever passed and pre-emptively nullify any future measures. President Obama's LGBT nondiscrimination order would be entirely undermined: Federal contractors would only need assert that gay sex and gay marriage violate their "moral convictions," and they could fire gay employees with impunity. Federal grantees, such as homeless shelters and drug treatment programs, could turn away gay people at the door. Businesses could refuse to let gay employees care for a sick spouse, in contravention of medical leave laws. Even low-level government employees could refuse to process gay couples' tax returns, Social Security checks, or visa applications. [Slate, 7/23/15]

HRC: FADA Is "Tantamount To State Sanctioned Discrimination." The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national LGBT rights organization, declared that FADA amounts to "state sanctioned discrimination":

This Act would allow organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect same-sex couples and their families from harmful discrimination.  It would also enable federal employees to refuse to fully perform their duties if they believe they conflict with their objection to same-sex marriage.  For example, an employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs could refuse to process a claim for survivor benefits for the same-sex spouse of a servicemember.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex married couples are entitled to all federal spousal benefits regardless of where they live. Under this Act, however, individual businesses could run roughshod over the civil rights of these couples and deny them the spousal benefits they have earned and deserve.  Employers could refuse to approve an individual's request for FMLA leave to care for a sick same-sex spouse, or file an employee's spousal benefits as married in an ERISA plan based on their religious objection to same-sex marriage. [Human Rights Campaign, 7/17/15]

FADA Is Built On Debunked Right-Wing Talking Points

Myth: FADA Is "Crucial" To Protect Tax-Exempt Status Of Churches. In a press release announcing its support for FADA, the American Family Association stated that FADA was crucial to protect the tax-exempt status of churches:

The bill, says AFA, is crucial because if it passes, for example, the government could not revoke the tax-exempt status of churches whose leadership refuses to perform same-sex weddings because of religious convictions. [American Family Association, 6/20/15]

Churches Have Long Legally Discriminated Against Women Without Losing Tax-Exempt Status. Tax and legal experts debunked the notion that churches are now in danger of losing their tax exempt status, noting that religious institutions have long legally discriminated against women without losing their tax-exempt status:

[T]he religious right was galvanized in the 1970s by the IRS's revocation of the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University over its policy banning interracial dating. That revocation-upheld by the Supreme Court-was a result of an IRS rule that permits the agency to deny or revoke a non-profit's tax-exempt status if it violates a fundamental public policy (in that case, public policy against race discrimination).

The Bob Jones case is an essential part of the conservative movement's institutional memory of what they consider to be government overreach, particularly by the IRS, and undue government interference with religious affairs and religious freedom. As historian Randall Balmer has documented, Bob Jones University's loss of its tax-exemption mobilized the religious right more than abortion.


Richard Schmalbeck, a tax expert at Duke Law School, said the principle in Bob Jones has "not been applied broadly," noting, for example, that it hasn't been extended to deprive all-women's colleges of their tax-exempt status. Caroline Mala Corbin, a professor at the University of Miami Law School, reiterated what she told me last year: that if the IRS and the courts had not applied the Bob Jones principle to revoke the tax exempt status of organizations that discriminated based on gender, it seemed unlikely that they would extend this principle to sexual orientation discrimination. What's more, she said, federal law bans race discrimination, demonstrating a broad consensus to protect as fundamental public policy. Given that discrimination based on sexual orientation has not been banned by any federal law, we are far from such a consensus on sexual orientation discrimination. And even though federal law bans discrimination based on gender, the Bob Jones principle has never been extended to tax-exempt organizations that discriminate based on gender.

Think about it this way: there are religious denominations that ban women's ordination, and still have tax-exempt status. [Religiondispatches.org, 5/10/15]

Myth: Religious Schools In Danger Of Losing Tax-Exempt Status. In a newspaper op-ed  that explained his reasons for introducing FADA, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said the bill would protect the tax-exempt status of religiously affiliated schools that oppose same-sex marriage:

[U]nder this bill the IRS could not revoke the tax-exempt status from any of the tens of thousands of religiously affiliated schools in America — pre-schools through college — whose religious convictions dictate that they maintain the traditional definition of marriage. [Deseret News, 6/18/15]

Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: "No Sign That The IRS Has Any Plans" To Target Religious Schools. In an op-ed denouncing FADA as "unnecessary," the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board rejected the notion that religiously affiliated schools are in danger of losing their tax-exempt status due to the Obergefell decision:

There is no sign that the IRS has any plans to try to revoke the tax-exempt status of religious schools that oppose same-sex marriage. In fact, as the ACLU notes, since 1983 the agency has made no move to disturb the tax-exempt status of religious schools that have policies against interfaith marriages or remarriage after divorce. A concern about the tax-exempt status of religious schools is no reason to enact the First Amendment Defense Act — and there are many other reasons to oppose the bill. [Los Angeles Times, 7/21/15]

These Myths Are Part of Conservative Media's Long-Standing Religious Liberty Fearmongering Campaign. These talking points are part of a larger "religious liberty" misinformation campaign by conservative media to justify anti-LGBT laws. [Media Matters, 10/10/12, 2/26/14, 9/23/14, 4/2/15, 7/9/15

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201507280001 Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:34:28 EST
17 School Districts Debunk Right-Wing Lies About Protections For Transgender Students http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201506030001 The collective experience of 17 U.S. school districts has shattered the right-wing myth that says prohibiting discrimination against transgender students causes confusion and inappropriate behavior. Years after implementing their own anti-discrimination policies, none of the schools have experienced any problems. 

Media Outlets Have Promoted Myths About The Effect Of Non-Discrimination Protections For Transgender Students

Several States Have Adopted Non-Discrimination Laws To Protect Transgender Students. States across the country have adopted laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools. [National Center for Transgender Equality, 1/30/15]


[GLSEN, accessed 6/3/15]

U.S. Department of Education Issued Guidelines In 2014 Urging Schools To Protect Transgender Students From Discrimination. On April 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance document clarifying that the Title IX prohibition against sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs covers discrimination based on gender identity or expression. According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network:

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education today issued official guidance which makes clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. Specifically, the guidance states that "Title IX's sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation." [GLSEN, 4/29/15]

Conservative Media Promote Bogus Myths About Policies Protecting Transgender Students. Conservative media outlets have attacked transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies in schools by claiming they create confusion, violate students' privacy rights, and can be exploited by students who will pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into the restrooms for the opposite sex and behave inappropriately. [Media Matters2/27/138/9/138/14/138/22/1310/15/132/14/146/9/14]

Seventeen School Districts Covering 600,000 Students Experienced No Problems After Implementing Transgender Protections

Media Matters Contacted Officials At The Largest School Districts In 12 States With Gender Identity Protections On The Books. Media Matters contacted school district officials in states with laws prohibiting discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity and asked whether they had experienced "any incidences of harassment or inappropriate behavior" as a result of "allowing transgender students to access facilities they're comfortable with." Media Matters specifically raised the oft-heard criticism that protecting transgender students will "result in confusion, harassment, or inappropriate behavior" such as "students pretending to be transgender to sneak into locker rooms or bathrooms."


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2014. On January 1, 2014, California's School Success and Opportunity Act went into effect, prohibiting discrimination against transgender students and requiring public schools to allow trans students to have access to facilities and extracurricular activities that correspond to their gender identity. [Transgender Law Center, accessed 5/29/15]

Six California School Districts Reported No Incidences Of Harassment Or Inappropriate Behavior. One month after California's law went into place, Media Matters contacted officials at the largest school districts in California to determine whether the right-wing horror stories about transgender students had come true. None of the six school districts reported incidents of harassment or inappropriate behavior, and several pledged to continue accommodating transgender students even if the law were to be repealed in a referendum. [Media Matters2/11/14]

School Districts Had Similar Policies In Place For Years, Without Incident. Several California school districts had policies to protect transgender students long before the 2014 law came into effect, and none had any problems. The Los Angeles School District, which educates more than one in 10 of all the students enrolled in California public schools, had protections in place for nearly a decade before the law, and recorded no incidents of inappropriate behavior as a result. [Media Matters2/11/14]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2008. In 2008, Colorado expanded its Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, including schools, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.  [The Denver Post5/29/08]

Non-Discrimination Policy Includes Public School Restroom Access. In 2009, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission clarified that public schools should allow transgender students to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity. [Colorado Civil Rights Commission, December 2009]

Jefferson County Schools: "Not Aware" Of Any Concerns Over Transgender Bathroom Access. Lisa Pinto, spokesperson for Jefferson County Schools, told Media Matters that she was unaware of any issues surrounding transgender students being allowed to use the bathrooms of their choice:

Our District seeks to foster an educational environment that is safe and free from all discrimination for all students.  We are very aware of, and participating in, the discussion regarding transgender students using the bathroom of their choice.  Additionally, we are currently updating our annual training materials to discuss this matter.  We will continue to be involved in these discussions with both our internal population as well as external subject matter experts and updating our training materials appropriately.

To address your specific question, we are not aware of any a transgender student or any student raising a concern about bathroom use at our schools. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Jefferson County Schools Is Colorado's Second Largest School District With 86,547 Students. [Colorado Department of Education, 2014]

Denver Public Schools: No Incidences Of Harassment Or Confusion. Doug Schepman, media relations manager for Denver Public Schools, reported no incidences of confusion, harassment, or inappropriate behavior as a result of the school's non-discrimination policy.

We are not aware of any such incidences in Denver Public Schools. [Email exchange, 5/20/15]

Denver Public Schools Is Colorado's Largest School District With 88,839 Students. [Colorado Department of Education, 2014]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2011. In 2011, Connecticut added gender identity or expression to its anti-discrimination laws, including discrimination in education, with Public Act 11-55, "An Act Concerning Discrimination." [GLAD, 10/12]

Bridgeport Public Schools: No "Inappropriate Incidences." Fran Rabinowitz, superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools, reported that the district had not experienced any incidents as a result of accommodating trans students:

Bridgeport is proud to accommodate all students. We are happy to report that we have not experienced any inappropriate incidents resulting from accommodations for trans-gender students. [Email exchange, 6/2/15]   

Bridgeport Public Schools Is Connecticut's Third Largest School District With 20,126 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2006. In 2006, Illinois amended its Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, including schools, on the basis of sexual orientation or "gender-related identity." [Jackson Lewis, 2/8/05]

Elgin Area School District: No Instances Of Harassment Or Inappropriate Behavior. Tony Sanders, interim superintendent of School District U-46 (also known as Elgin Area School District), stated that he has never heard of any issues related to trans students accessing the facility that aligned with their gender identity:

In my eight years in School District U-46, I am not aware of instances of harassment or inappropriate behavior related to transgender students accessing facilities of their choice. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Elgin Area School District Is Illinois' Second Largest School District With 40,687 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202: "No Issues" As A Result Of Allowing Trans Students To Access Facilities. Tom Hernandez, director of community relations and Freedom of Information Act officer, reported that the district had worked with several trans students, and had no issues with allowing these students to access facilities aligned with their gender identity:

Yes, we have had students for several years who have identified themselves as the opposite gender, and we have taken steps to ensure their comfort in terms of providing access to appropriate facilities. No, we have not had any issues allowing transgender students to access facilities they are comfortable with. [Email exchange, 6/1/15]

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 Is Illinois' Fourth Largest School District With 28,904 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2007. In 2007, Iowa amended its Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education. [Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 2007]  

Des Moines Public Schools: "No Examples" Of Harassment Or Inappropriate Behavior. Phil Roeder, director of communications and public affairs for Des Moines Public Schools, reported no incidences of students taking advantage of the district's trans-inclusive policies:

When it comes to transgender students and our school district's practice of making sure we serve students according to their individual gender identity, we have had no reported incidents of any student abusing our policies or taking advantage of them in any way that would be inappropriate or harassing. At this time, we have no examples to support such criticism. [Email exchange, 5/20/15]

Des Moines Public Schools Is Iowa's Largest School District With 33,453 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Sioux City Community School District: No "Harassment Or Bullying." Alison Benson, director of communications for the Sioux City Community School District, stated that there were no reports of harassment or bullying in the district as a result of allowing trans students to access facilities: 

There have not been reports of harassment or bullying due to transgendered [sic] students having access to facilities in the Sioux City Community School District. The District is committed to ensuring every student and staff member is treated with respect and dignity. We work very hard to ensure all of our students learn in a safe atmosphere. [Email exchange, 6/2/15]

Sioux City Community School District Is Iowa's Fourth Largest School District With 14,360 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Education Since 2005. In 2005, Maine passed  "An Act to Extend Civil Rights Protections to All People Regardless of Sexual Orientation," which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in secular education institutions. [GLAD, 2/25/14]

Lewiston Public Schools: "No Cases Of Harassment" Reported As Result Of Policy. Lewiston Public School District Superintendent Bill Webster said that no cases of harassment had reached his office:

We are fully committed in Lewiston Public Schools to comply with Maine law and to meet the needs of our transgendered [sic] students with respect and dignity.  No cases of harassment have reached my office.  That doesn't mean that they don't exist, but, I would like to think, my administrators throughout our schools are working well with students and families on this issue.  I am aware of a couple of situations where a young student has decided to identify with with [sic] the opposite sex, change their name and patterns of dress.  The biggest issue that I am aware is helping parents with this change, particularly where the parents may have different opinion. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Lewiston Public Schools Is Maine's Second Largest School District With 5,115 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2012. Massachusetts has prohibited discrimination in public education since 2012, when "An Act Relative to Gender Identity" added gender identity as a protected characteristic to Massachusetts' non-discrimination law. [Massachusetts Department of Education, accessed 5/28/15]

Boston Public Schools: No Bathroom Complaints, Only Education Requests. Boston Public Schools' Chief Equity Officer Tanisha Sullivan stated that there have been no complaints about transgender students' access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity:

While there is state law and a district non-discrimination policy that protects all of our students from and against discrimination and harassment, we are most proud of our work with schools and external partners over the past two years to deepen our capacity to proactively meet the needs of our GLBT students.  To that end, we have not received specific complaints regarding bathroom access; however, over the past year our Equity Office has responded to requests from schools to help educate staff on the state law, our policy, and overall inclusion of transgender students. This led to the establishment of a working group in 2015 to review the impact that some of our district procedures have on transgender students, as well as efforts to increase training specifically related to effective engagement and inclusion of our GLBT community. [Email exchange, 5/19/15]

Boston Public Schools Is Massachusetts' Largest School District With 55,027 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Education Since 1993. Since 1993, the Minnesota Human Rights Act has prohibited discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity. [OutFront Minnesota, accessed 5/21/15]   

Minneapolis Public Schools: "No Reports Of Harassment Or Bullying" As A Result Of Trans-Inclusive Policy. Lynn Brun, interim communications director for Minneapolis Public Schools, stated that there have been no reports of harassment or bullying as a result of accommodations made for transgender students:

Minneapolis Public Schools is committed to providing transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff with the tools, resources, and support they need.  Over the past year and half, four schools converted bathrooms to be gender neutral: Wenonah (K-2), Folwell (K-8), Seward (K-8), and South (9-12). The implementation around the gender-neutral restrooms involved teacher and staff training around gender inclusion, along with a mix of student and family engagement such as peer education at South with students speaking to classmates about the need for a different restroom; student assemblies on bullying prevention; articles in the school newspaper; and, in some cases, parent letters went out directly to families. Accommodations for changing rooms and showers for sports and gym classes are made at the site level. School administrators and work with transgender students and their families to ensure appropriate facilities are provided to meet each student's needs.

To date, there have been no reports of harassment or bullying of transgender students or other students due to these changes. [Email exchange, 5/27/15]

Minneapolis Public Schools Is Minnesota's Third Largest School District With 35,046 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Saint Paul Public Schools: "Not Aware" Of Any Cases Of Students Pretending To Be Trans. Ryan Vernosh, interim director of communications, marketing, and development for St. Paul Public Schools, said that he was unaware of any instances of students pretending to be trans in order to sneak into bathrooms.

From my understanding from the research into developing our own district policy protecting transgender students, we haven't noticed any uptick in harassment or bullying complaints due to the Minnesota Human Rights Act. There seems to be no correlation between the Act and incidences of bullying or harassment. I am not aware of any cases of students pretending to be transgender to sneak into bathrooms or locker rooms.

Saint Paul Public School District Debunks Harassment Myth For Their District-Wide Policy. St. Paul Public School District assembled a list of "myths and facts" about its Gender Inclusion Policy - one of the myths being that "a gender inclusion policy will lead to safety issues and will violate student privacy in school facilities." Responding to this myth, the district wrote:

There is no correlation between unsafe school environments and providing equitable access to facilities for transgender and gender non-conforming students. [Saint Paul Public Schools, accessed 6/2/15]

Saint Paul Public School District Is Minnesota's Second Largest School District With 38,310 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

New Jersey

State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2007. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination has prohibited discrimination in public education (except religious educational institutions) since being amended in 2006 to include gender identity as a protected class. [White & Case, 12/20/06]

Paterson School District: "Have Not Encountered Any Specific Issues" With Student Access To Facilities. Terry Corallo, executive director of information for Paterson School District, stated that the district had not had any issues with its transgender students as a result of the state's non-discrimination law:

We have not encountered any specific issues (in response to your facilities question), but we do have a policy - and we are sensitive to this matter.

In fact, some of our district staff members have participated in a recent training program - LGBT- Legal Rights & Discrimination of Students and Staff - presented by The Morris Union Juncture. [Email exchange, 5/27/15]

Paterson School District Is New Jersey's Third Largest School District With 24,365 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2008. Oregon has protected public school students from discrimination on the basis of gender identity since the Oregon Equality Act went into effect in 2008. [Lambda Legal, 9/19/07]

Portland Public Schools: No Harassment As A Result Of Transgender Inclusive Policy. Christine Miles, public information officer for Portland Public Schools, stated that she had heard of no incidences of harassment as a result of the state's non-discrimination policy:

We have not received or heard of any harassment to kids.  We have had some concerns from parents who are not parents of TG [sic] students. [Email exchange, 5/20/15]

Portland Public Schools Is Oregon's Largest School District With 46,930 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Salem-Keizer School District: No "Negative Consequences" As A Result Of Non-Discrimination Policy. Jay Remy, community relations and communications director for Salem-Keizer School District, dismissed concerns about protections for transgender students:

I did look into this. We cannot speak about specific individual students dealing with these issues. However, we have not had any of the negative consequences you listed in your email. We feel fortunate in that regard. [Email exchange 5/19/15]

Salem-Keizer Schools District Is Oregon's Second Largest School District With 40,756 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination in Public Schools Since 2006. In 2006, Washington State enacted the Anderson-Murray Antidiscrimination Law, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity through Washington's Law Against Discrimination. [Lambda Legal, 9/19/07]

Seattle Public Schools: "Not Had Any Incidents" Related To Non-Discrimination Law. Stacy Howard, spokesperson and media relations specialist for Seattle Public Schools, reported no incidents as a result of the state's gender identity protections. Rather, trans students in Seattle recently made headlines for other reasons:

We have not had any incidents related to this in Seattle Public Schools. One great example, some of our transgender students have made headlines recently for changing the graduation gown color to be just one, rather than one for boys and one for girls. [Email exchange, 5/18/15]

Seattle Public Schools Is Washington's Largest School District With 49,269 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Spokane Public Schools: No Instances Of Students Exploiting Non-Discrimination Protections. Ramon Alvarez, equal opportunity officer for Spokane Public Schools, had not heard any cases of students acting inappropriately as a result of the non-discrimination law, adding that all cases of transgender student bathroom use have been handled amicably:

I have not heard of any situation where a student pretended to be transgender in order to sneak into bathrooms or locker rooms. Neither are we hearing of situations where a student identifies as transgender than later changes their mind. Any questions that have come up around bathroom use for transgender students have been handled amicably. [Email exchange, 5/18/15]

Spokane Public Schools Is Washington's Second Largest School District With 29,038 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]


State Law Has Prohibited Discrimination In Public Schools Since 2007. In 2007, Vermont outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender identity with Public Act 41, "An Act Relating to Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity." [GLAD, accessed 5/21/15

Burlington School District: No "Misbehavior" As A Result Of Trans-Inclusive Policies. Burlington School District Interim Superintendent Howard Smith stated that the district had not experienced "misbehavior" as a result of its transgender non-discrimination policy:

Before the 2007 protections were enacted in Vermont, Burlington School District was already establishing protections for all students. Since the protections were enacted, the Burlington School District has implemented district-wide bullying and harassment protocols. In each of our schools we have two or more trained Designated Employees (DEs) who are responsible for investigating all complaints of alleged bullying/harassment. Any bullying and/or harassment complaints of a federal or state protected category, such as race, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, (and the district has also included gender expression), will be investigated. The Burlington School District has hired an Equity Director to ensure staff are trained in order to appropriately respond to bullying and harassment. Although BSD has not experienced misbehavior of any student claiming to be transgender as an attempt to gain access to certain facilities, we do offer gender neutral facilities for students and staff. [Email exchange, 5/21/15]

Burlington School District Is Vermont's Largest School District With 3,958 Students. [Niche, accessed 6/2/15]

Video created by John Kerr.

This post originally stated that Denver Public Schools was the second largest school district in Colorado. It is the actually the largest school district in the state. The post has been updated.

Rachel Percelay http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201506030001 Wed, 03 Jun 2015 12:53:10 EST
REPORT: How National Media Outlets Cover Transgender News Stories http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201504080001 Cable, broadcast, and Spanish language news networks largely ignored an “epidemic of deadly violence” against the transgender community in the first two months of 2015, despite devoting coverage to various transgender stories. When networks discussed transgender issues, they often failed to include the voices of transgender individuals, especially transgender women of color.

Which Networks Covered Transgender News Stories

Networks Ignored “Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against Transgender Women

Who Included Transgender Guests In Their Coverage?

Spanish-Language Networks Largely Ignored Transgender Stories

Which Networks Covered Transgender News Stories?

CNN, MSNBC Extensively Discussed Transgender Issues. Both CNN and MSNBC dedicated substantial time to covering transgender news stories in the first two months of 2015, while Fox News devoted significantly less time to transgender issues:

Nearly Half Of MSNBC’s Coverage Occurred During Ronan Farrow Daily, Which Was Cancelled In February. Of MSNBC's sixty-one minutes of coverage of transgender issues, just over twenty-nine minutes were from Ronan Farrow Daily. The show was cancelled on February 27.

CBS Devoted More Time To Transgender Issues Than Both NBC And ABC Combined. In the first two months of 2015, CBS and NBC covered a number of transgender stories, while ABC ran only one segment on transgender issues during its news programming:

  • Over Half Of CBS’s Coverage Came From A Segment Discussing Amazon’s Transparent

News Coverage Of Transgender Issues Focused On Bruce Jenner, Chelsea Manning, Leelah Alcorn. Coverage of transgender stories across cable news networks focused heavily on Bruce Jenner’s expected transition, Chelsea Manning’s hormone therapy in military prison, and the suicide of transgender Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn:

  • 82 Percent Of CNN’s Coverage Of Transgender Issues Was Devoted To Jenner's Transition. 

Nearly Half Of Fox News’ Coverage Was Dedicated To Criticizing CUNY's Gender-Neutral Memo. Four minutes of Fox News' eleven minutes of transgender coverage were spent criticizing the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) for a memo suggesting that staff avoid using gendered salutations in corresponded with students.   

Only One Sunday Show Featured A Discussion Of Transgender Issues. Across cable and broadcast networks’ Sunday news shows, only MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry featured a host-driven discussion of transgender issues – during a January 3 segment about the suicide of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn:

Networks Ignored “Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against Transgender Women

Seven Transgender Women Of Color Were Murdered In The First Two Months Of 2015. [National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 3/11/15]

Trans Women Of Color Collective: Trans Communities Of Color Are “Disproportionately Impacted By Violence And Discrimination.” In a statement to Media Matters, Lourdes Ashley Hunter, National Director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, wrote:

Trans and gender non-conforming communities of color are historically disproportionately impacted by violence and discrimination. There is an epidemic of brutal violence against trans women of color that is inextricably linked to the structural oppression we face every day. In 2013, there were 14 reported murders of trans women of color.  In 2014, the same year that our nation celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, 12 trans women of color were brutally murdered in a 6-month time span. And in the first two months of this year, 7 (reported) trans women of color have been brutally murdered.  The lack of national outrage reinforces a narrative that our lives are disposable. [Email exchange with Media Matters, 4/6/15]

Homicides Of Transgender Women Have Reached “Unprecedented Levels” In 2015. In a statement to Media Matters, Osman Ahmed, Research and Education Coordinator at the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), wrote:

The homicides of transgender women, and specifically transgender women of color, is an ongoing epidemic that has reached unprecedented levels with the seven homicides of transgender women of color in the first two months of 2015 alone. In just these two months NCAVP has documented more than half of the 12 homicides that were reported in all of 2014. While coverage of individual homicides has somewhat increased recently, it is time for the media to start connecting the dots and talking about the breadth and complexity of this violence. [Email exchange with Media Matters, 3/16/15]

NCAVP: “Alarming Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against LGBTQ Communities In 2015. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender women of color have faced “an alarming epidemic of deadly violence” in 2015:

“In 2015 we are seeing an alarming epidemic of deadly violence against LGBTQ communities, and particularly against transgender women of color,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti Violence Project. “We need more public awareness and respect campaigns, more people speaking out against this violence, and more protections, particularly for transgender people, from harassment and discrimination. This is an outrage, and we all have to commit as a nation to ending this violence.” [NCAVP, 2/19/15]

National News Networks Largely Ignored The Murders Of Seven Transgender Women Of Color. ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC ignored the murders of seven transgender women of color during the first two months of 2015. CNN’s Don Lemon briefly mentioned the murder of three of the women during a discussion about Bruce Jenner during the February 5 edition of CNN Tonight

Who Included Transgender Guests In Their Coverage?

Fox News,  ABC, And NBC Failed To Host Transgender Guests When Covering Transgender Issues. While CNN and MSNBC both frequently invited transgender guests to participate in news segments about transgender issues, Fox News, ABC, and NBC failed to include transgender people during transgender-focused segments with guests in the first two months of 2015:

CNN’s Trans Guests Were Mostly White, While MSNBC Featured Trans Women Of Color. CNN’s transgender guests were primarily white, while MSNBC’s representation of transgender people was split between white and non-white guests:

Spanish-Language Networks Largely Ignored Transgender Stories

Univision And Telemundo Devoted Less Than Ten Minutes To Transgender Issues. Major Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, largely ignored transgender issues in the first two months of 2015, with both networks devoting less than ten minutes to discussing transgender issues:

Neither Spanish- Language Network Mentioned Transgender Issues During Their Sunday News Shows. Neither Univision's Al Punto nor Telemundo's Enfoque featured a discussion of transgender issues during the first two months of 2015.

Neither Spanish- Language Network Mentioned Violence Against The Transgender Community. Neither Univision nor Telemundo discussed the murders of seven transgender women of color or the issue of violence against the transgender community in the first two months of 2015.

Both Spanish- Language Networks Featured Transgender Individuals During Their Coverage. Univision and Telemundo both featured transgender guests during their coverage of transgender issues - activist Maggie Sanchez during the February 9 edition of Noticiero Telemundo, activist Marichuy Leal Gamino during the January 28 edition of Univision’s Edicion Nocturna, and a transgender woman during the February 10 edition of Noticiero Univision.


Media Matters used TV Eyes, Nexis, and IQMedia to search ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, between January 1 and February 28, 2015 for the terms “transgender!,” “transsexual,” “cross-dress!,” “transphob!,” “gender identity,” “Yazmin AND Payne,” “Yasmine AND Payne,” “Michael AND Payne,” “Michelle AND Payne,” “Ty AND Underwood,” “Tyler AND Underwood,” “Tyrone AND Underwood,” “Ty Lee AND Underwood,” “Lamia AND Beard,” “Floyd AND Beard,” “Taja AND Dejesus,” “Penny AND Proud,” “Perry AND Thornton,” “Kristina AND Gomez,” “Christina AND Gomez,” “Kristina AND Infiniti,” “Christina AND Infiniti,” “Christina AND Grand,” “Kristina AND Grand,” “Ruben AND Gomez,” “Papi AND Edwards,” “Bradley Manning,” “Chelsea Manning,” “Leelah,” “Alcorn,” “suicide AND Ohio,” and “Jenner.”

The same search was run in Spanish for Univision and Telemundo using TV Eyes and IQMedia.

Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day’s news cycle were excluded. For broadcast networks, we limited our search to the regular morning and evening newscasts, excluding shows like 20/20 and The View.

Transgender coverage included any intentional, network-prompted mention of a transgender news story or individual. Mentions made by guests were excluded. Passing mentions, like references to Amazon.com’s “Transparent” winning a Golden Globe or offhand remarks about Bruce Jenner’s appearance were not included.

To measure how often transgender guests were invited on the networks, we considered all transgender-focused news segments that included commentary from guests. Segments that aired pre-recorded clips of transgender individuals commenting were counted as having a transgender guests. Network correspondents were not considered guests.

Foreign nationals were excluded from the diversity analysis. This applied to only one guest, Diego Neria Lejarraga, the transgender man who claims to have had a private audience with Pope Francis. He appeared on the January 31 edition of CNN Newsroom

C.L., C.M., & R.P. http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201504080001 Wed, 08 Apr 2015 10:01:44 EST
REPORT: Hate Group Leader&rsquo;s Appearances Plummet On CNN And MSNBC, Hold Steady On Fox News http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201407300001 Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has appeared significantly less frequently on CNN and MSNBC in the wake of petitions calling on the networks to stop hosting him. Perkins, whose organization has been labeled an anti-gay “hate group,” continues to appear frequently on Fox News.

Perkins Is President Of An Extreme Anti-Gay Group

FRC Has Been Labeled An Anti-Gay “Hate Group.” Citing FRC’s history of defaming the LGBT community, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the organization an anti-gay “hate group” in 2010:

Headed since 2003 by former Louisiana State Rep. Tony Perkins, the FRC has been a font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history. It relies on the work of Robert Knight, who also worked at Concerned Women for America but now is at Coral Ridge Ministries (see above for both), along with that of FRC senior research fellows Tim Dailey (hired in 1999) and Peter Sprigg (2001). Both Dailey and Sprigg have pushed false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia: Sprigg has written that most men who engage in same-sex child molestation “identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual,” and Dailey and Sprigg devoted an entire chapter of their 2004 book Getting It Straight to similar material. The men claimed that “homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses” and similarly asserted that “homosexuals are attracted in inordinate numbers to boys.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, Winter 2010]

Perkins Has Called LGBT People “Vile,” “Hateful,” And Asserted That They’re Destined For “Eternal Damnation.” As GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project noted, Perkins has a long history of anti-LGBT commentary. [GLAAD, accessed 7/30/14]

Perkins Was A Cable News Fixture During 2012 GOP Primary Coverage

Perkins Appeared On Cable News 56 Times During GOP Primary Process. According to an Equality Matters analysis, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN regularly invited Perkins to act as a social conservative spokesman during the 2012 GOP presidential primary process:

[Equality Matters11/28/12]

Petitions Called On MSNBC And CNN To Stop Hosting Perkins

Petitions Urged MSNBC And CNN To Discontinue Perkins’ Appearances. In response to Perkins’ appearances to discuss topics like presidential politics and marriage equality, Faithful America – a group working toward “reclaiming Christianity from the religious right” – launched  a petition in February 2012 petitions asking MSNBC to stop inviting Perkins on its programs, citing his history of inflammatory anti-LGBT rhetoric. The group directed a similar petition at CNN in the summer of 2013 after the network hosted Perkins to discuss the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality rulings. [Huffington Post, 2/16/12Equality Matters7/15/13

Analysis: Perkins’ Appearances On MSNBC And CNN Have Plummeted

Perkins’ Appearances Have Sharply Declined On MSNBC And CNN. According to an Equality Matters analysis, while Perkins’ appearances have held steady at Fox News, they have been sharply curtailed at CNN and MSNBC. Perkins hasn’t appeared on MSNBC since March 2013:

Most Of Perkins’ Appearances Have Focused On LGBT Issues

LGBT Topics Account For The Majority Of Perkins’ Cable Appearances. Since the conclusion of the 2012 GOP primary process, a majority of Perkins’ cable news appearances have focused on LGBT topics:


Equality Matters searched TV Eyes, LexisNexis, and the Family Research Council’s video archives for Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC between August 1, 2012 and July 28, 2014using the terms “Tony Perkins,” “Tony Perkins AND Family Research Council,” “Perkins AND Family Research Council,” and “Tony AND Family Research Council.” For data prior to August 2012, Equality Matters used data collected in an earlier Equality Matters item focusing on Perkins’ appearances during the Republican presidential primary season.

Equality Matters considered Perkins’ appearances to be focused on LGBT topics if LGBT issues were either the sole focus of his interviews or were raised during segments that also covered other topics.

Luke Brinker http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201407300001 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:13:50 EST
REPORT:&nbsp;Houston Media Outlets Fail&nbsp;To Debunk Misinformation&nbsp;About&nbsp;Equal Rights Ordinance http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201406270002 Houston media outlets have failed to hold anti-LGBT activists accountable for the misinformation they have spread about the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), currently the focus of a repeal effort. Media outlets have allowed myths about the ordinance’s protections for transgender people to go unchallenged and have disproportionately cited anti-LGBT groups and advocates in their reporting on the measure.

Houston City Council Passed Equal Rights Ordinance

City Council Voted 11-6 To Approve Sweeping Non-Discrimination Ordinance. According to Buzzfeed:

The Houston City Council, led by out Mayor Annise Parker, passed an ordinance Wednesday that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Houston City Council members approved the measure, or the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, after hearing hours of passionate testimony in a 11-6 vote. More than 220 people testified before the council, Parker said, with a majority in favor of the ordinance.


The ordinance broadly bans discrimination — on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — as well as on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military states, religion, disability, genetic information, or pregnancy. [Buzzfeed, 5/28/14]

Equal Rights Ordinance Prohibits Anti-LGBT Discrimination. According to MSNBC.com:

The ordinance bans discrimination in housing and employment among 14 characteristics – including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It was a personal and public victory for openly-gay Mayor Annise Parker who began crafting the law back in December. She signed the ordinance shortly after the vote.


Before this week’s vote, Houston was the country’s largest city with no laws protecting citizens against discrimination. There are federal protections for race, color, religion, sex, and age, among others, but nothing on the books federally for members of the LGBT community. Congress has debated, but failed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – the bill that would extend protections to gay and transgender Americans. [MSNBC.com, 5/29/14]

Conservatives Are Fighting To Repeal The Ordinance

Houston Area Pastors Council Launched Effort To Repeal The Ordinance. The Houston Area Pastors Council is gathering signatures to place a repeal measure on the November ballot. According to The Advocate:

The Houston Area Pastors Council plans to begin gathering signatures to put the ordinance to a repeal vote in November. To get a repeal measure on the ballot, it would need about 17,000 signatures, 10 percent of the turnout in the last mayoral election, within 30 days.

Dave Welch of the pastors council issued a statement saying, “Once we correct this grievous act through the ballot this fall, we will then remind those members that patronizing a tiny interest group and outgoing mayor instead of serving the people leads to a short political career.” [The Advocate5/29/14]

Opponents Claim That Transgender Protections Would Threaten Women And Children. Opponents of the ordinance, including Fox News’ Mike Huckabee and Texas Values’ Jonathan Saenz, asserted that the measure’s protections for transgender people would allow sexual predators to sneak into women’s restrooms, jeopardizing women and children. [Equality Matters5/13/14 and 5/30/14]

Repeal Campaign Is Touting The Transgender Bathroom Myth. As Jeremy Hooper noted, the “No Unequal Rights” coalition fighting to repeal the ordinance has peddled the transgender bathroom myth in radio ads. [Good As You, 6/27/14]

Independent Experts Have Debunked The Transgender Bathroom Myth.  Law enforcement officials, victims’ rights advocates, and state human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender non-discrimination protections have debunked the transgender bathroom myth. [Equality Matters3/20/14]

Anti-LGBT Misinformation Went Unanswered In Local Media Reporting

Outlets Repeatedly Parroted The Transgender Bathroom Myth. Over the course of the month opponents have had to collect signatures for a repeal effort, Houston media outlets have parroted rather than debunked misinformation about Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance. According to an Equality Matters analysisHouston media outlets repeatedly cited misinformation about the Equal Rights Ordinance, including the transgender bathroom myth and concerns about religious liberty: 

  • More Than Half Of Fox Affiliate KRIV’s Coverage Mentioned The Transgender Bathroom Myth. 
  • Only One Column, In The Houston Chronicle, Debunked Conservative Talking Points About The Ordinance.

Outlets Disproportionately Relied On Commentary From Anti-LGBT Groups And Figures

Houston Media Outlets Failed To Cite Pro-LGBT Groups Or Activists. While several reports cited anti-LGBT groups like the Houston Area Pastors Council and Texas Values or members of such groups, none cited pro-LGBT advocates:


Equality Matters accessed The Houston Chronicle’s coverage by searching LexisNexis for the terms (gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or LGBT or sexual orientation or gender identity) and (discrimination or nondiscrimination or non-discrimination or anti-discrimination or antidiscrimination or Houston Equal Rights Ordinance or ordinance)between May 28 and June 26, 2014.Equality Matters ran the same search terms through TV Eyes for NBC affiliate KPRC, CBS affiliate KHOU, and Fox affiliate KRIV, also searching between May 28 and June 26. Outlets were considered to lend credence to misinformation against the ordinance if they reported opponents' misleading assertions without debunking the misinformation; outlets were considered to have debunked misinformation if they cited independent experts or figures in response to specific claims or if the outlet included editorial commentary rejecting such claims. When counting pro-LGBT and anti-LGBT advocates, Equality Matters excluded members of the general public featured in person-on-the-street interviews as well as Mayor Annise Parker and members of the Houston City Council. Reruns, teases for upcoming segments, and passing mentions in the course of articles or segments about other topics were excluded. Because of technical problems within TV Eyes, Equality Matters excluded ABC affiliate KRTK from its search.

Luke Brinker http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201406270002 Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:16:13 EST