An article appeared yesterday in Roll Call, a DC newspaper covering legislative news.
In it, Rep. Collin Peterson, so-called "Democrat" of Minnesota, said he's not sure whether transgender people should be included in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that coming up before Congress.
And CBS News, after a long silence on ENDA, yesterday published an article naively devoted to the worst lies of a hate group on the Southern Poverty Law Center watch list, the Traditional Values Coalition. Entitled "Church Lobby Warns of Transgendered Teachers," the article calmly discusses TVC's position that children in every state will be trapped in classes taught by "men undergoing a so-called sex change to become women." This follows another incident involving CBS News in which the White House called it an "enabler of lies" for publishing right-wing rumors about Supreme Court nominee Kagan's sexual orientation.
I think both Brian Montopoli, the reporter for CBS News and Rep. Peterson need some education.
Rep. Peterson, a member of the "Blue Dog Coalition," supported the bill in 2007, without transgender inclusion. In the Roll Call article, he said he is "not sure" about the inclusion of transgender language.
He thinks there should be some discussion about "exactly what" will be in the bill.
Rep. Peterson has told some of his constituents that he will vote for ENDA in the past, but he also voted NO on hate crimes. Who is this guy kidding? Why is he pretending to be our community's friend, and then sabotaging us? People from Rep. Peterson's district ought to call and tell him to support an inclusive ENDA or stop pretending to be an LGBT ally.
In fact, all of you should be calling your members of Congress to support ENDA at 202-224-3121. At this point, I wouldn't spend a lot of time calling Nancy Pelosi, or Barney Frank, or, for that matter, Rep. Peterson (unless you're from his district). We need you to call your Representative and tell them you're from their district and you support and inclusive ENDA, HR 3017.
Here's the full article from Roll Call.
CBS News - Political Hotsheet
The CBS News article appeared in its online blog, Political Hotsheet.
The report quotes the Traditional Values Coalition press release word for word. It does not mention that it is hate group on the Southern Poverty Law Center watch list. Rather, it refers to TVC as "the largest non-denominational, grassroots church lobby in America."
Because it protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, the bill will "force public schools to allow transgendered individuals to teach in the classroom," according to the Coalition, which says it speaks on behalf of more than 43,000 churches.
"Every state will be forced to recognize transgendered and transsexual individuals as part of a protected class," it said in a statement. "Schools will then be forbidden to reassign any teacher undergoing a so-called sex change because this would be considered 'discrimination.' Thus, children will be trapped in classes taught by men undergoing a so-called sex change to become women and will be taught that it's normal behavior."
The bill "protects what is listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental illness, Gender Identity Disorder (GID)," argues Andrea Lafferty, the coalition's Executive Director. "Teachers have a direct, daily influence on children and to employ such individuals while at the same time overriding the laws of 38 states is unacceptable and dangerous." (38 states do not have laws banning workplace discrimination based on gender identity.)
The article also published a reply from HRC, saying that these were scare tactics, and that children should learn about equality and the right to earn a living.
The reporter ignored the standard journalistic practices suggested by GLAAD and NLGJA that the term "transgender" be used, rather than the term "transgendered." Perhaps not the most major of points, but another items showing that the reporter is poorly educated on the issue on which he was reporting, and didn't do his homework.
The major impression that the article leaves, in my opinion, is that ENDA is about transgender teachers, which is completely inaccurate. It also gives readers no context or background about the process of gender transition, making it seem that male teachers will suddenly waltz in at the middle of the semester with a mustache and a dress.
So while the reporter may defend on the grounds that he simply reported the facts, the more significant failure is his failure to put ENDA in context. ENDA is not about teachers, transgender or otherwise. It is about all workplaces and the effects of discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity across a workforce of 130 million people. ENDA is not about men in dresses. It is about transgender people who go through years of soul-searching to determine that they wish to transition in the face of losing family and friends, and often -- their jobs and any means of livelihood.
CBS News might as well have published an article on transgender iron smelters. That would have been as relevant to ENDA as his naive blurb on transgender teachers taken from a hate group's website.
There are few transgender teachers across the country. I know of a handful over the past decade. As against the 20,000 or so school districts in the US, ENDA would affect a tiny minority of children. The idea that all school children across America would be scarred for life by ENDA is just ridiculous. The few cases that have I have seen were handled respectfully and largely to the satisfaction of those involved.
CBS News ought to apologize for this mess by publishing a series of articles on the levels of discrimination and harassment experienced by the LGBT community. It ought to explain the real meaning of "gender identity" and give some information from experts who understand what they are talking about. Giving news credibility to the trash from TVC was simply irresponsible.
Shame on you, CBS!