The actor who plays a transgender character on the Fox television series Glee responded to criticism from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who warned that allowing "dopey kids" to watch a transgender character on television might encourage them to experiment with homosexuality.
In April 2012, O'Reilly criticized Glee for introducing a transgender character - Wade "Unique" Adams - struggling with her gender identity in high school. According to O'Reilly, the presence of a transgender character on television might convince "dopey kids to identify as gay or transgender" (emphasis added):
In a November 21 interview with Fusion's Alicia Menendez, Alex Newell - the actor who plays Unique on Glee - condemned O'Reilly's comments, saying:
NEWELL: It's wrong to call people dopey ... When it's something this poignant and such a big part of the society, you can't call kids dopey because this is something that they're actually going through, this is what they feel on the inside, there's nothing dopey about it.
O'Reilly has been one of conservative media's most vocal and misinformed critics when it comes to protecting and accommodating transgender youth, especially in school environments. Hehas attacked common sense policies to protect transgender students from harassment at school. He has criticized parents who worked to accept and affirm their transgender children, calling them "dopey" as well and asking if they were guilty of child abuse. He has even encouraged parents to discipline boys who like the color pink and stated that children shouldn't be allowed to dress in ways that contradicts their biological sex.
A recent episode of Glee even featured Unique experiencing harassment and bullying after being denied access to school restrooms that correspond to her gender identity - a crusade that O'Reilly has happily taken up over the past several months. When California passed a law protecting students like Unique in public schools, O'Reilly called it "the biggest con in the world" and described the measure as "anarchy and madness." Earlier this month, he compared trans-inclusive bathrooms to Hooters without chicken wings.