Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Top Capitol Newspaper Publishes Outrageous Lies of Hate Group About ENDA

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 20, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Roll Call, Traditional Values Coalition, TVC

Roll Call, a well-respected Capitol newspaper with a wide readership among politicians, today published an article written by Andrea Lafferty, of the hate group Traditional Values Coalition.

Traditional Values Coalition is on the watch list of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

TVC has opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act based on the crazy idea that it will permit amputee fetishists to abuse wounded veterans.

This time, TVC targeted transgender teachers, and outrageously suggested that they will harm children.

This article follows another published on Friday by CBS News from the same source.

Meanwhile, most of the mainstream media has published nothing on the pro side of ENDA, and nothing about job discrimination against LGBT people, or how people have been harmed by rampant unemployment, underemployment and harassment against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. They mention nothing about the fact that the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are both in favor of ENDA. Are those teacher groups in favor of harming children?

How long will mainstream publications go on publishing these lies from the Traditional Values Coalition? How long before it sinks the chances of passing ENDA?

The committee is sitting on a time bomb: namely, H.R. 3017, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act...Most importantly, every public school in America will not be able to discriminate in hiring transgender teachers, and it will be illegal to reassign them from the classroom...Expanding the scope of traditionally protected minorities to these groups will engender all sorts of problems...The federal government clearly oversteps its bounds when it places the privacy of a teacher above the right of the parents to look after the well-being of their child. These cases are not isolated, and hundreds of school districts nationwide could face similarly sticky situations if ENDA is passed...what type of education are we giving to our children when we present them with difficult questions regarding gender identity? These impressionable young students need a stable environment in which to learn. Forcing children, who are struggling to find their place, to remain in classrooms taught by teachers working through their own identity issues will breed more gender confusion and enervate the educational experience...

While it is true that school districts will not be able to discrimination based on gender identity under ENDA, there is nothing in the bill about not being able to reassign teachers if that is an appropriate move. As a consultant to human resources departments of many organizations on transgender workplace issues, I have certainly seen reassignment of employees from one position to another. I have also specifically seen situations in which transgender teachers moved to a new school in order to keep a low profile and to avoid controversy. While each situation is different, requiring different solutions, the blanket statement that school districts will not be able to reassign teachers is simply a lie.

Furthermore, Lafferty states that hundreds of school districts nationwide will be faced with this problem. In fact, the issue is quite rare. There have been a half-dozen or so teacher gender transitions in the last decade. She herself only mentioned two cases, one from 2006 and one from 2008. Hardly an epidemic. She has no statistics to back her up, wildly suggesting that "hundreds of districts could" face this problem. This is extremely unlikely.

She also says that the schools decided not to permit an opt-out of students from the class in those two cases. That is not strictly true. In the Batavia case, some parents demanded, and were allowed, the option to remove their child from that school and place them in another school. I don't know whether that option was exercised, but the school acted appropriately to avoid a mass exodus from the class based on scare tactics from people like Lafferty, while allowing people who still felt very strongly to take action to move.

She mentions a 2008 case, but fails to note that parents were allowed to remove their children from the classes.

Lafferty also incorrectly refers to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 as preventing notice to parents of an impending transition. This is completely wrong, and there is nothing in HIPAA, which affects only communications from insurers and third-party administrators of insurance claims, that has anything whatsoever to do with transgender teachers. While one school district that handled the transition very poorly made an excuse for doing so by citing HIPAA, the law did not, in fact, back them up. As an attorney, I have studied this issue, and I have spoken to many labor-side attorneys, as well as plaintiff's attorneys. Trust me -- there's nothing like that in HIPAA. Anyone who thinks different just hasn't read the law.

Most significantly, Lafferty does not cite any instances of harm occurring to children in those two cases. There is no indication that these children were scarred for life, or experienced gender confusion, or were subjected to inappropriate sexual comments.

In fact, it is Lafferty, with her talk of the "Dirty 30" who creates inappropriate sexual commentary around ENDA. She has insisted over and over again that sexual fetishes, which do not fall within the definitions of ENDA, would be protected by the bill. This is utter slanderous nonsense.

The publication of these out-and-out lies by Lafferty is scandalous.

UPDATE: I called Charlie Mitchell, Roll Call's editor-in-chief, to complain about this issue. I received a very nice telephone call in response from a staffer, who asked if I would be interested in writing a response. Would I! I promised to send it to him this morning, and he said that it might be placed in Thursday's paper. I was advised, however, that Roll Call wanted it made clear that they were unaware of TVC's listing on Southern Poverty Center's watch list, and might have made a different decision about publishing the piece had they been aware. I have revised this post to reflect this information.

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I'm very pleased that you have the opportunity to respond. I know you will take the high road with valid points and supported facts. You always do.

Meghan Stabler Meghan Stabler | April 20, 2010 11:40 AM

Jillian, thank you for taking the lead on this.

Folks, please call RC's office, ask to speak with Charlie. More than likely you will only be transferred to his voice mail. Even if you are, please leave a respectful message about how inaccurate the story was, why it was wrong to publish a very biased story from an org that is on a 'watch list', encourage Charlie to assure that Jillian's rebuttal will be published, and if there is time tell him why passing ENDA is important to you.

Actually, in upstate NY, the children wwee not upset at all. In fact the parents weren't either. The only people who were upset wre the parents who thought this was against the rule of God, just like the person who wrote this article. And since there is no legal protection in New York State for trans people, the teacher had to file under disability protection, the only recourse to protect jobs.

School them, Jillian.

I'm glad you'll be telling the other side of the story, Jillian. If anyone ought to be the voice of reason, its you.

Jillian, is this the type of situation where you think it might be appropriate to get GLAAD involved? We're seeing these lies repeated in the media

Children in the 21st Century are probably far smarter on LGBT issues that their parents are. The way Lafferty describes it, kids are still living in the Leave It to Beaver age. It's because she is.

robbi cohn | April 22, 2010 1:28 AM

Thanx, Jillian!!

I just read the Roll Call piece a few minutes ago...and my mouth dropped to the floor. How could a reputable publication such as this ever consider Andrea Lafferty to be a reliable source?

Then I read your column in Bilerico and was relieved that someone else was equally appalled. I look forward to what I know will be your cogent and incisive response in Thursday's Roll Call.

Thanx again!!

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | April 22, 2010 8:18 AM

Good on you Jill. I hope they publish your piece but I'm going to be skeptical until they do. I don't trust the right wing traditional media one tiny bit.