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  • How An Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leader Came To Embrace Donald Trump

    Trump Will Be The First Republican Presidential Nominee To Headline Values Voter Summit, Organized By Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Over the past year, Tony Perkins -- president of the anti-LGBT hate group the Family Research Council -- has gone from adamantly supporting Ted Cruz to openly endorsing Republican nominee Donald Trump for president. This week, Trump will be the first GOP presidential nominee to headline Perkins’ Values Voter Summit. Here’s how the hate group leader came to embrace and endorse Trump as a “teachable” candidate, giving Perkins an opportunity to “shape” Trump into a nominee who embodies Perkins’ anti-LGBT extremism.

    On September 9, Trump is slated to speak at the 11th Values Voter Summit (VVS) in Washington, D.C. Trump’s appearance marks the first time that a Republican presidential nominee has addressed the summit since it began in 2006. The VVS is hosted annually by the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBT “hate group” due to its known propagation of extreme falsehoods about LGBT people as well as Perkins' own history of making inflammatory comments. Perkins has called pedophilia a "homosexual problem," equated being gay with drug use and adultery, accused gay people of trying to "recruit" children, and compared gay rights advocates to terrorists.

    In past years, the summit has been little more than a who’s who of anti-LGBT and anti-choice extremists, regularly featuring hateful and extreme rhetoric from politicians and conservative media figures. Trump agreed to address attendees at the extremist event nearly a year after he initially declined the opportunity to speak at the 2015 VVS. He eventually reversed that decision and addressed the 2015 summit along with seven other Republican presidential candidates. Since then, FRC president and VVS host Tony Perkins has gone from being the driving force behind evangelical support for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid to questioning Trump’s candidacy as a possible “huge problem” for Republicans to endorsing Trump in a speech at the Republican National Convention in June.

    Over the last year, Perkins seems to have become convinced that Trump was “open” and “teachable” enough to make his candidacy a “pragmatic” opportunity for Perkins to “shape the outcome” of the election. And by all accounts, he has been successful. In his speech endorsing Trump at the Republican National Convention, Perkins highlighted the extremist, anti-LGBT positions cemented into Trump’s campaign: the slew of anti-LGBT potential Supreme Court nominees Trump has mentioned, VP pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and the most anti-LGBT Republican Party platform to date.

    Here’s the timeline of how the far right’s most prominent anti-LGBT extremist came to support Donald Trump.

    Fall 2015: Perkins Rallies Behind Cruz, While Still Giving Trump “A Lot More Credit Than Some Do”

    In September 2015, Trump and Perkins appeared to have a spat when Trump initially declined to speak at FRC’s 2015 Values Voter Summit. Trump reversed his decision two days before the summit and delivered a speech met with boos from the evangelical audience, finishing in fifth place in VVS’s straw poll. In December, Perkins organized a secret meeting of influential evangelical leaders, where he successfully pushed for the group to endorse Ted Cruz for president. Later that month Perkins told The Washington Post that “it’s a mistake to write off Donald Trump.”

    September 10, 2015. The Christian Post reported that Trump had declined to speak at FRC’s September 25-27 Values Voter Summit. Perkins said of Trump’s decision:

    I think [Trump] is going to have to have conversations with evangelicals and talk about issues they care about. He hasn't really done that in a way that is convincing.


    Could [Trump] make some progress with evangelicals? I think he could if he tried, but I don't really see that happening right now."

    September 23, 2015. The Family Research Council issued a press release announcing that Trump had reversed his original decision to skip the 2015 VVS, and would now speak at the summit along with seven other Republican presidential candidates.



    September 25-27, 2015. On September 25, Trump delivered a speech to the 2015 VVS, where he was greeted by boos for attacking Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and mocked by some conferencegoers for bringing his Bible as what appeared to be a prop to appeal to evangelicals. The following day, Cruz won the VVS straw poll for the third year in a row and Trump finished in a distant fifth place with 5 percent of the vote.

    December 7, 2015. In a "major boost" for Cruz's presidential campaign, he won the endorsement of a secretive group of influential evangelical Christian leaders. The top national socially conservative activists convened at a private meeting organized by Perkins, who reportedly “push[ed] hard to form a supermajority” behind Cruz.

    December 10, 2015. In an interview with The Washington Post, Perkins warned that “it’s a mistake to write off Donald Trump” and said that he gives Trump “more credit” than others do:

    I give Donald Trump a lot more credit than some do. I don’t think he misspeaks as much as people think. I think in this age of political correctness, in which people refuse to speak with clarity, he is seen as very attractive. I think it’s a mistake to write off Donald Trump. He has tapped something that’s very real across the spectrum, including [among] Evangelicals.

    December 21, 2015. Trump called in to Perkins’ radio show to discuss the importance of “religious freedom” and “saying ‘Merry Christmas.’” Perkins observed that Trump has “tapped into” the importance of celebrating Christmas, which is possibly why his poll numbers “continue to rise.”

    Winter 2016: Perkins Publicly Endorses Cruz While Denouncing The “Fear” Motivating Evangelicals To Vote For Trump  

    On January 26, a week after Trump blamed Perkins for his “two Corinthians” gaffe, Perkins publicly endorsed Cruz on Fox News. After endorsing Cruz, Perkins gave several interviews disparaging Trump. In February, he denounced the “fear” motivating evangelicals to vote for Trump.

    January 20, 2016. In an interview with CNN, Trump blamed Perkins for his “two Corinthians” gaffe during remarks at Liberty University, saying that Perkins had given him notes on what to say at Liberty (the Bible verse Trump referenced comes from the book known as Second Corinthians). Perkins said that the gaffe “shows that he’s not familiar with Bible,” adding that “Trump’s a very interesting guy.”   


    January 26, 2016. Perkins officially endorsed Ted Cruz during an interview on Fox News’ The Kelly File, calling Cruz the “best” candidate “prepared to lead this nation forward.”

    February 24, 2016. In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Perkins denounced the “fear” he believed was motivating evangelicals to vote for Trump, saying, “We cannot be driven by fear. … When we are driven by fear, we make mistakes.” 

    Spring 2016: Perkins Is “Very Concerned” About What Might Happen With Trump As The Nominee

    In March, Perkins called Trump’s conduct “antithetical to evangelical teaching” and said that, while Trump might have identified “the problems” in society, he did not have “the solution.” Perkins continued to publicly support Cruz until he dropped out of the race on May 3. After Cruz ended his presidential bid, Perkins joined a small group of evangelical leaders who planned a private meeting with Trump to “reconcile” his candidacy.

    March 11, 2016. In an interview with C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, Perkins said that although he “like[d] some of the things Donald Trump is saying,” Trump’s conduct was “antithetical to evangelical teaching.” Perkins declared that he would not “fall in line” to support a candidate just because the candidate was a Republican, and said that he was “very concerned” about what may happen in the general election with Trump as the Republican presidential nominee (emphasis added):

    I like some of the things that Donald Trump is saying. I agree with some of the things that he says. I don’t necessarily agree with his policy prescriptions. I think he has identified the problem. I don’t think that he has the solution.


    I mean, if we came to that point, it would require sitting down with Donald Trump to see what his pathway forward was in terms of the Supreme Court, who would be vetting judicial nominees, who would be his running mates, who would be involved in his cabinet, what type of policies would he advocate? I am not a lackey for the Republican Party. Just because it’s a Republican candidate, I'm not going to fall in line. It has to be someone who is committed to the core values that we represent at the Family Research Council.


    I think that becomes a real problem for Donald Trump if he is a nominee in a general election because I have no doubt that if he were to get the nomination that we would hear several months worth of explaining of his past positions, of his casinos, strip clubs, all these other things that would be used to really suppress evangelical turnout in the general elections. I think it is a huge problem for the Republicans.

    March 31, 2016. In a statement from the lobbying arm of FRC responding to Trump’s comments that there needed to be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, Perkins called Trump “ill informed in this vital issue” and said that Trump’s statements “suggest he should spend more time with pro-life conservatives to gain a better appreciation of what their goals and objectives really are.”  

    May 3, 2016. Cruz dropped out of the Republican presidential race, making Trump the presumptive GOP nominee. 

    May 17, 2016. In an interview with CNN, Perkins said it was “incumbent upon Trump to reach out with tangible steps to quell anxiety in the movement if he is to ensure a strong GOP turnout in November,” though Trump “has not done anything that would make people change their minds.”

    May 20, 2016. Time magazine reported that Perkins was part of a small group of evangelical leaders planning a private meeting on June 21 with Trump to reconcile concerns about Trump’s candidacy.

    Summer 2016: Perkins Organizes Evangelical Support For Trump, Then Formally Endorses Trump At Republican National Convention

    After Trump met with evangelical leaders, Perkins said that they're “not quite there” in supporting Trump. But two days after that, Perkins announced that he will vote for Trump in November, adding “it is not something that I relish.” A month later at the Republican National Convention, Perkins delivered a speech formally endorsing Trump, citing Trump’s potential judicial nominees, VP pick, and the Republican Party platform as evidence that Trump was “committed to upholding and protecting the first freedom.” On August 11, Perkins announced that Trump was slated to be the first GOP presidential nominee to ever speak at the Values Voter Summit.

    June 21, 2016. After meeting with evangelical leaders, Trump announced the creation of “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” for his campaign. Perkins, who largely organized the event, said that evangelicals were “not quite there” on supporting Trump. 

    June 23, 2016. On his Washington Watch radio show, Perkins said he would be voting for Trump because “it’s really the only one of the two options we have” and admitted he did not “relish” the vote. Perkins reasoned that the decision to vote for Trump was “pragmatic” because “we don’t know what Donald Trump will do, but we can shape the outcome”:

    I mean I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton, I’m going to vote for Donald Trump, because it’s really the only one of the two options we have. Now, will I actively support him and work for him? I don’t know. That’s yet to be decided. There’s several factors to look at. But I think we need to be very careful going into this election.


    We don’t know what Donald Trump will do, but we can shape the outcome.


    This is not something that I relish, that I am excited about. But from a pragmatic point I think there’s opportunity. Let me just say this, about Donald Trump and what I seem. He does seem to be open, teachable. Has he made past mistakes? Without question. And I’m not going to try to rationalize them. Has he made choices I disagree with? Absolutely, without question. But, how is he going to go forward? That’s the whole thing about evangelical Christianity.

    July 12, 2016. Perkins successfully pushed the Republican Party’s platform committee to add language supporting so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy,” a harmful and discredited treatment that attempts to “cure” children of being LGBT, to the party platform.


    July 21, 2016. On the last night of the Republican National Convention, Perkins made a speech endorsing Trump (emphasis added):

    From his judicial nominees to his running mate, to the Party platform and the policies it promotes, Donald Trump has committed to upholding and protecting the first freedom and therefore our ability as citizens to unite our nation once again under God.

    August 11, 2016. Perkins released a statement announcing that Trump would be addressing the 11th Values Voter Summit on September 9, noting that this “is the first time a Republican nominee for president has addressed the Values Voter Summit since its inception in 2006” (emphasis added):

    We are therefore very encouraged that Donald Trump has accepted our invitation to address the Values Voter Summit and make his case directly to conservative activists from across the country. The fact that he is the first Republican nominee to attend since the Summit's inception in 2006, demonstrates his understanding of the importance of values voters in the general election and his desire to work with them in addressing the critical issues facing our nation.

    August 20, 2016. In the wake of devastating flooding in Louisiana, CNN Reporter Ashley Killough tweeted that Trump had donated $100,000 to the Greenwell Spring Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, LA. Perkins, whose home was severely damaged by the flooding, is currently serving as interim minister of the church

  • NRA News Dismisses LGBT Students’ Safety Concerns Over Texas' New Campus Carry Law

    NRA News Host: LGBT Students Shouldn't Be Afraid "Unless They Have Been Living In A Cave Somewhere"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s radio show dismissed personal safety concerns raised by LGBT students at the University of Houston following Texas’ August 1 adoption of a law allowing concealed guns to be carried on many parts of public college campuses.

    Cam Edwards, the host of NRA News’ Cam & Company, cited a Buzzfeed article where a University of Houston student, who self-identifies as transgender and intersex, expressed fear of being shot if someone was angered by their use of gender-neutral pronouns.  

    On the August 30 edition of Cam & Company, Edwards dismissed the student’s worries, as well as those of other LGBT students mentioned in the article, saying he feels “horrible” for those students because “they don't have to feel that way and yet they’re being told by anti-gun professors, they are being told by anti-gun media, they are being told by anti-gun activists that oh yes, absolutely, they should feel this way, they should be scared of concealed carry holders.”

    “Unless they have been living in a cave somewhere in Texas and they only emerged to go to college, they've been hanging around concealed carry holders virtually their entire life if they grew up in Texas,”  Edwards continued. (While discussing the article, Edwards mistakenly cited it as appearing in The Houston Chronicle rather than Buzzfeed.)

    Edwards never read from sections of the Buzzfeed article, where multiple LGBT students talked about how they “regularly experienced intimidation on campus before the law was implemented,” especially from extremists who hold hateful protests on campus, and expressed concern that guns can be carried at the school’s LGBT center:

    Some of the students thought about protesting, but they didn’t think it would be safe. “We would also out ourselves in the process, which isn’t safe for many of the LGBT students on campus,” [student Robyn] Foley added. “Especially now.”


    Many of the LGBTQ students told BuzzFeed News they regularly experienced intimidation on campus before the law was implemented — both from fellow students and from non-student religious protest groups on campus, which the students refer to as “Hell Yellers.”

    Many non-student religious groups, including one called Bulldog Ministries, show up on UH’s campus during midterms and finals and yell at students, the students at the LGBT center told BuzzFeed News.

    On Bulldog’s website, men can be seen in various locations in Houston holding signs reading, “WARNING: drunks, homosexuals, abortionists, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, witches, idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU.”


    Foley said they have had slurs yelled at them and been “intimidated” on campus before. Other LGBT students said they have had similar experiences.

    According to news reports analyzed by the Violence Policy Center, since May 2007, 885 people have been killed by concealed carry permittees, including 48 people in Texas. The gunman who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history on June 12 by targeting an Orlando LGBT nightclub was licensed to carry a gun in public.

  • The Do's And Don’ts On Reporting On Anti-Bullying And Nondiscrimination Protections For LGBT Students

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Thanks to several recent legal rulings about protections for transgender students, nondiscrimination and anti-bullying measures for LGBT students are more visible than ever. As kids head back to school, journalists have the opportunity to break from the sensationalist, fearmongering coverage that often accompanies these stories and instead follow journalistic best practices in reporting on LGBT student equality.

    In the past few weeks, there have been two high-profile legal rulings directly affecting transgender students. On August 22, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s recent guidance directing all public schools to provide transgender students with access to sex-segregated facilities that are consistent with a student’s gender identity. On August 3, the Supreme Court granted an emergency appeal from a Virginia school board to prevent a transgender boy from using the boys bathroom at his high school. The two August decisions come on the heels of this spring’s high-profile national debate over transgender equality, which centered largely around access to restrooms and other public accommodations.

    As both of these cases continue to make their way through the legal system, the discussion about LGBT student equality isn’t going away. In the past, journalists have often stumbled when reporting on measures geared toward making schools more accepting for LGBT students, particularly transgender students. Right-wing media have a long history of sensationalizing and fearmongering over basic anti-bullying measures and nondiscrimination protections for LGBT students. As students head back to school, here are a few reminders for media outlets that want to avoid making some of the most common mistakes when covering stories about LGBT students:

    DO Accurately Identify Anti-LGBT Commentators

    Mainstream media outlets often fail to give their audiences relevant information about guests they ask to comment on LGBT equality, particularly when the topic is transgender equality. If a guest represents an organization that has been designated as an anti-LGBT hate group for its history of spreading known falsehoods about LGBT people, then properly identifying the person as such is essential to providing audiences the context they need to assess that guest's point of view. Journalists should be especially wary of hate groups, like the American College of Pediatricians, that use legitimate-sounding names to peddle harmful, debunked lies.

    Outlets should also be careful of using hate groups as reliable sources for stories about LGBT students. Fox has twice been caught uncritically repeating made-up stories meant to oppose LGBT student equality, peddled to the network by one of California’s most notorious anti-LGBT hate groups.

    DON’T Fearmonger Over Access To Bathrooms And Locker Rooms

    Conservative media have a long history of fearmongering over nondiscrimination protections for transgender kids. In 2014, when California passed a new law allowing transgender public school students to use the restroom facilities that correspond to their gender identity, right-wing media figures issued apoplectic predictions of bathroom harassment and inappropriate behavior, warning that students would pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into opposite-sex bathrooms.

    While mainstream media might not offer the same doomsday type predictions, outlets often uncritically repeat the right-wing myth that nondiscrimination protections will cause students to pretend to be transgender to sneak into bathrooms and locker rooms.

    DO Rely On Empirical Data

    When discussing the potential impact of providing nondiscrimination protections for LGBT students, journalists should cite empirical data from schools that have protected LGBT students for years.

    Nationwide, school administrators from 23 school districts and four universities across the country, serving an estimated 1.5 million students, have reported that they allowed transgender students to use school facilities that correspond with their gender identity without incident.

    Additionally, reporters should be sure to provide meaningful context about anti-bullying initiatives for LGBT students by highlighting the high rates of violence and discrimination against LGBT kids. Recently, the first nationally representative study asking high school students about their sexuality confirmed what smaller studies have suggested for years -- that LGB teens are at far greater risk for depression, bullying and many types of violence than their straight peers, with nearly 40 percent having seriously considered suicide. Similar studies of transgender students have found that nearly 80 percent of transgender or gender-nonconforming kids have experienced harassment in schools, with over 30 percent experiencing harassment by teachers or staff. 

    Journalists should also point out that efforts by school staff to create welcoming and accommodating environments for transgender youth can dramatically improve the conditions experienced by these students. Given the empirical evidence available, it’s no surprise that national organizations like the National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, and the American Federation of Teachers all support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT students.

    DON’T Sensationalize Training Materials Out Of Context

    Conservative outlets like Fox News have a long history of seizing on small details of LGBT-inclusion trainings -- like a suggestion to use the classroom nickname “purple penguins” instead of gendered terms -- to gin up controversy and trivialize the importance of diversity trainings. Recently, both conservative and local media reported on a cartoon “gender unicorn” illustration being used in a diversity training in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which a local parent called “friendly looking and deceitful” because the unicorn “represents the religion of sex.” 

    This type of sensationalist reporting can have a chilling effect on schools considering adopting similar inclusion measures. Joel Baum, director of education at Gender Spectrum, has criticized the sensational media coverage surrounding the organization’s gender-inclusive trainings for creating “a tremendous amount of work for school leaders who are overburdened and do not have time, quite honestly, to be responding to misinformation about what's happening in their schools."

    DO Be Familiar With And Follow Journalistic Best Practices When Reporting On Transgender People

    With much of the media attention surrounding LGBT student equality focused on transgender youth, reporters should be sure to educate themselves on journalistic best practices in reporting on transgender people. GLAAD’s media reference guide has clear guidelines for reporters covering the transgender community, key points of which are:

    • Use accurate terminology, including the correct pronouns, and avoid offensive terms (see GLAAD’s list).
    • Avoid focusing on medical issues, and remember that it is inappropriate to ask transgender people (including children) about their genitals or surgeries they have had.
    • Transgender people “are the experts to talk about transgender people.” Reporters should prioritize transgender voices in stories about the transgender community.

    Similar guidelines have been adopted by The New York Times and The Associated Press, and they should be common practice for news outlets.


  • Federal Judge Smacks Down Right-Wing Media's Anti-LGBT "Bathroom Predator" Myth

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    A recent ruling by a federal judge shut down right-wing media’s anti-LGBT “bathroom predator” myth, writing that there is “no indication” that a sexual predator could “claim transgender status” as a “defense against prosecution” for sneaking into a women’s restroom to commit a crime.

    On August 26, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder issued a preliminary ruling barring the University of North Carolina from enforcing a portion of North Carolina’s discriminatory "bathroom bill" against three transgender people who sued the state after the bill’s passage this spring. The law, known as HB 2, bans transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not match the sex listed on their birth certificate. Schroeder’s injunction prevents the University of North Carolina from banning the three transgender plaintiffs -- two university students and one professor -- from using facilities that match their gender identity, rather than their sex assigned at birth. LGBT advocates are currently pushing to have the injunction expanded from the three plaintiffs to include all transgender people in North Carolina.

    In the limited preliminary ruling, Schroeder dismissed the claim, often peddled by right-wing media outlets, that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people would allow male predators to sneak into women’s bathrooms and commit sexual assault by pretending to be transgender. As Schroeder wrote, the “bathroom predator” myth has been repeatedly debunked by experts, and there is no evidence that allowing transgender people to use restrooms that match their gender identity leads to an increase in crime (emphasis added):

    North Carolina’s peeping and indecent exposure statutes continue to protect the privacy of citizens regardless of Part I, and there is no indication that a sexual predator could successfully claim transgender status as a defense against prosecution under these statutes.


    As for safety, Defendants argue that separating facility users by biological sex serves prophylactically to avoid the opportunity for sexual predators to prey on persons in vulnerable places. However, the individual transgender Plaintiffs have used facilities corresponding with their gender identity for over a year without posing a safety threat to anyone. (See Doc. 22-4 ¶¶ 15, 30; Doc. 22-8 ¶¶ 19, 25; Doc. 22-9 ¶¶ 15, 19–20.) Moreover, on the current record, there is no evidence that transgender individuals overall are any more likely to engage in predatory behaviors than other segments of the population. In light of this, there is little reason to believe that allowing the individual transgender Plaintiffs to use partitioned, multiple occupancy bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities, as well as UNC to seek to accommodate use of similar showers and changing facilities, will pose any threat to public safety, which will continue to be protected by the sustained validity of peeping, indecent exposure, and trespass laws. And although Defendants argue that a preliminary injunction will thwart enforcement of such safety laws by allowing non-transgender predators to exploit the opportunity to cross-dress and prey on others (Doc. 55 at 4–5), the unrefuted evidence in the current record suggests that jurisdictions that have adopted accommodating bathroom access policies have not observed subsequent increases in crime.

  • Media Should Note Common Denominator In Recent Wave Of Anti-LGBT Court Battles

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    In the last week, two courts have decided against the rights of LGBT people and their families in major equality battles, and Texas’ attorney general has filed a third lawsuit regarding LGBT Americans. As the media cover these cases, they should connect the dots that lead back to one nefarious organization: the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extremist group leading the national fight against LGBT equality.

    Alliance Defending Freedom is a right-wing legal powerhouse that’s linked to nearly every recent legal attack on LGBT equality in the United States -- as well as attacks on women’s reproductive health. ADF is behind the national push for both anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation that seeks to legalize discrimination against LGBT people and so-called bathroom bills that aim to prohibit transgender people, including public school students, from using facilities that align with their gender identity. ADF also works internationally to attack LGBT equality, including by helping defend laws in Belize and Jamaica that would put people in prison for engaging in gay sex.



    EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. A U.S. District Judge issued a summary judgement on August 19 in favor of Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan, which fired an employee, Aimee Stephens, after she told her employers of her plans to transition from male to female. ADF lawyers are now representing the chain of funeral homes, and they lauded last week’s decision, highlighting the court’s language about company owner Thomas Rost:

    Rost sincerely believes that it would be violating God’s commands if he were to permit an employee who was born a biological male to dress in a traditionally female skirt-suit at the funeral home because doing so would support the idea that sex is a changeable social construct rather than an immutable God-given gift.

    State of Texas v. United States of America. On August 21, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against a joint guidance released by the departments of Education and Justice that explained school administrators’ obligations to ensure that transgender students can attend school without facing discrimination based on sex. It built off previous court decisions and guidance stating that discrimination against transgender students constitutes illegal sex discrimination under federal law. The injunction was sought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit against the the federal government along with several other states in response to the guidance. The lead counsel on this case is Austin Nimocks, who works for Paxton’s office but previously served as senior counsel at ADF.

    State of Texas v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. On the heels of the above court ruling in its favor, Paxton’s office filed a new lawsuit on August 23 against the Department of Health and Human Services over nondiscrimination protections and expanded medical care for transgender people included in the Affordable Care Act. This case was also assigned to Judge Reed O’Connor, the same judge who granted the injunction against transgender students. The recent actions of Paxton’s office drew swift condemnation from the editorial board at The New York Times:

    These legal assaults on equal protection for transgender Americans are based on bigotry and the specious claim that they pose a threat to the safety of others. The toll exacted on this vulnerable population is heavy and will remain so as these cases and other litigation involving transgender laws move through the courts.

    As these cases continue to move through the court system, journalists should expose the extremist legal group behind the coordinated assault on LGBT equality. 

  • Wash. Post Investigates If Rare Trump Gift It Can Confirm Is The One Tied To Anti-LGBT Hate Group

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Continuing its reporting on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s charitable giving practices, The Washington Post found that Trump has promised to donate $100,000 of his personal money to a church in Louisiana temporarily run by an anti-LGBT hate group leader.

    In April, the Post first reported that there was no record of Trump donating any of his own money to charity in the last five years, despite his repeated suggestions to the contrary. After contacting over 250 charities, the Post’s further investigation into Trump’s personal giving practices was “mostly ... unsuccessful” at discovering proof of this supposed generosity, and only found one instance of Trump giving a personal gift from his own pocket between 2008 and May 2016.

    After Trump toured areas of Louisiana devastated by recent flooding, however, CNN reporter Ashley Killough tweeted that according to a spokeswoman, Trump donated $100,000 to the Greenwell Spring Baptist Church. The interim pastor of the church, Tony Perkins, is also president of the Family Research Council (FRC) -- an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBT “hate group” due to the organization's known propagation of extreme falsehoods about LGBT people.

    In an August 24 article, the Post investigated the reports that Trump had donated $100,000 to the hate-group leader’s church, as well as a truckload of supplies. Trump’s campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks told the Post that Trump intends to send a personal check to the Church by this coming Friday. Hicks also said that Trump was “responsible” for “donating a truckload of supplies” for the town of St. Amant, Louisiana -- though the Post was unable to independently verify that Trump was behind the truck delivery. The Post was able to confirm that Trump chose Perkins’ church over “a specific fund: the Louisiana Flood Relief Fund, run by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.”

    While the Post did not label FRC a “hate group,” it did highlight FRC’s role in condemning “homosexuality” and “what it calls ‘transgenderism.’” A Media Matters study recently documented that leading newspapers like the Post still have room to improve when describing identified anti-LGBT hate groups.   

  • NY Times Editorial Board Calls Out Texas Attorney General’s “Legal Assaults” On Transgender Equality

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The New York Times' editorial board criticized Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent “bigot[ed]” attacks on transgender people that are based on the “specious” right-wing myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people threaten others’ safety.

    On August 23, Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services seeking to overturn a section of the Affordable Care Act that bars discrimination against transgender people in health insurance and by health providers accepting federal funds. In May, Paxton led another lawsuit challenging the education and justice departments’ joint guidance directing all public schools to provide transgender students with access to sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, that are consistent with a student’s gender identity.

    In an August 24 editorial, the Times’ editorial board slammed Paxton for his continued attacks on transgender equality. The board noted that Paxton’s team actively “encouraged” a school district to adopt an anti-transgender policy -- even though “there was no controversy surrounding transgender students” in the district-- because the state’s lawyers knew a case there would be assigned to a favorable judge. The board called out Paxton’s lawsuits for being “based on bigotry” and the “specious claim that” transgender protections “pose a threat to the safety of others,” a debunked talking point peddled by anti-LGBT extremists and right-wing media outlets and figures that the Times’ editorial board has repeatedly called out.

    From the editorial:

    Just days after the federal Department of Education in May issued sensible antidiscrimination guidelines for accommodating transgender students, Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton, set out to challenge them.

    His team reached out to tiny school districts in North Texas to persuade them to adopt policies that would require transgender students to use bathrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates — which would put them at odds with the Education Department’s new transgender guidelines. Those guidelines direct educators to investigate harassment of transgender students promptly; to use pronouns and names consistent with a student’s gender identity; and to allow transgender students to use restrooms based on their gender identity.


    Zeroing in on North Texas, the attorney general’s office encouraged the Harrold Independent School District to adopt an anti-transgender bathroom policy. The choice of district was no accident. Though there was no controversy surrounding transgender students in Harrold, the state’s lawyers knew that any case challenging the federal policy brought there would be assigned to Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas.


    Judge O’Connor on Sunday issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits the Education Department from enforcing its guidelines nationwide. In a 38-page order, he barred the federal government from taking enforcement action against discriminatory policies or practices.

    The ruling, which the Justice Department is expected to appeal, may lead educators around the country to question whether they need to follow the Education Department’s transgender guidelines as the new school year starts. They would be wrong not to; the rules provide a common-sense approach that makes harassment and stigmatization of transgender students less likely.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Paxton is determined to block another important protection for transgender people. On Tuesday, his office filed a new lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services over a regulatory change that sought to expand access to medical care for transgender Americans. This case, too, has been assigned to Judge O’Connor.

    These legal assaults on equal protection for transgender Americans are based on bigotry and the specious claim that they pose a threat to the safety of others. The toll exacted on this vulnerable population is heavy and will remain so as these cases and other litigation involving transgender laws move through the courts.

  • Right-Wing Media: “Lesbian And Transgender Hillbillies” Are The Latest Threat to Conservatism


    Right-wing media attacked the Iowa LGBT Rural Summit as possibly the “dumbest” “waste” of taxpayer money to date. Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh even suggested the summit was a “scam” by the “Obama regime” to “bust up” conservative voting areas of the country by convincing lesbians to become farmers with government subsidies. Iowa’s summit, which was held on August 18, was the 15th in the nationwide LGBT Rural Summit Series, which aims to share information to protect and strengthen LGBT communities in rural areas. 

  • New Research Counters Myth That Banning Discrimination Against LGBT People Is “Economically Harmful”

    Researchers Found Innovators Flock To States That Prevent Discrimination Against LGBT Workers

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Recently published research highlighted by the Harvard Business Review found that states with laws that ban employment discrimination against LGBT Americans saw a direct increase in business innovation -- counter to right-wing media myths that such laws result in negative interference in the market.

    According to a study published on June 15 by the journal Management Science, “state-level employment nondiscrimination acts (ENDAs) -- laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity -- spur innovation” among firms headquartered in those states. The study’s authors -- finance professor Huasheng Gao and economist Wei Zhang -- published an op-ed on August 17 in the Harvard Business Review highlighting their findings that states that protect employees with ENDAs see an increase in innovators moving to those states and a boost in business productivity. The research found that “firms headquartered in states that passed ENDAs experienced an 8% increase in the number of patents and an 11% increase in the number of patent citations, relative to firms headquartered in states that did not pass such a law.” The researchers concluded that this change was a result of individuals moving based on their approval or disapproval of the change in the law and theorized that “pro-LGBT individuals are likely to be more creative than the anti-LGBT ones” leading to companies in states that prohibit workplace discrimination having broader access to more creative talent:

    We looked at data for thousands of firms — almost all U.S. public firms that actively filed patents — from 1976 to 2008. We found that the adoption of ENDAs led to a significant increase in innovation output. On average, firms headquartered in states that passed ENDAs experienced an 8% increase in the number of patents and an 11% increase in the number of patent citations, relative to firms headquartered in states that did not pass such a law. These results start to show up two years after the adoption of ENDAs and largely are driven by firms that previously did not implement non-discrimination policies, by firms that operate in human-capital-intensive industries, and by firms in states with large lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations.

    These findings contradict years of right-wing media myths falsely claiming that protecting LGBT people from discrimination curbs free market innovation and hurts business. Daily Signal commentator and Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan Anderson claimed that the passage of nondiscrimination laws for LGBT Americans would “foster economically harmful government interference” and that this interference could result in “potentially discouraging job creation.” In an op-ed for CNN, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council -- an extremist organization designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- pushed the myth that banning discrimination would be be tantamount to “federal government interference in the free market.”

    Right-wing claims that banning employment discrimination against LGBT people would hurt business are often followed with the myth that nondiscrimination laws are unnecessary. The Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby misleadingly argued that, save for “occasional incidents of bigotry … there is no urgent crisis in the treatment of gay and lesbian employees,” because “free markets” have already rooted out systematic discrimination.”

    Contrary to myths promoted by right-wing outlets that ENDAs are unwarranted, the Williams Institute found that “widespread discrimination” against LGBT employees remains a problem in American workplaces. American workers still face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the results outlined in the Harvard Business Review show that laws prohibiting such discrimination are beneficial to both workers and businesses, regardless of right-wing media claims.

  • After Media Spends Months Pretending Trump Is LGBT Friendly, He Hires Head Of Bigoted Website To Run His Campaign

    New Campaign Chief's Website Breitbart News Regularly Uses Anti-LGBT Slurs, Pedals Anti-Gay Conspiracy Theories, And Features Articles By Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leaders


    The Trump presidential campaign’s newest hires, Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway, further prove Trump’s opposition to LGBT equality even as media whitewash Trump’s record on LGBT issues. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News regularly used anti-LGBT slurs, peddled anti-gay conspiracy theories, and featured articles by anti-LGBT hate group leaders.

  • The “Vital” Findings From The Justice Department’s Baltimore Investigation You May Not Have Heard

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    The Baltimore Police Department routinely mistreated and harassed transgender people, confirming what many in the community have been reporting for years, according to a Justice Department report highlighted by the Baltimore City Paper.

    The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launched an investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) after Freddie Gray died in police custody 14 months ago. The findings were released in an August 10 report which concluded that the BPD engaged in unconstitutional stop and frisks, racially-biased policing, and use of excessive force, which are enabled by “systemic deficiencies” and lack of accountability. During the investigation, there were “allegations of BPD officers’ mistreatment of transgender individuals” and “concerns that BPD’s interactions with transgender individuals reflect underlying unlawful gender bias.”

    Baltimore City Paper highlighted the importance of the findings and confirmation of BPD’s anti-transgender bias in an August 11 blog post. In the report, members of the transgender community described a pattern of dehumanizing and degrading interactions with the BPD, including inappropriate searches. For example, during a traffic stop a trans woman was intentionally misgendered by an officer:

    Specifically, it details a December 2015 traffic stop wherein a transgender woman was misgendered and then harassed in police custody. During the stop, she was asked about her pronoun and told the officer that her pronoun was "she," and the officer still referred to her as "him." When this woman arrived at intake the report goes on, a supervisor (who was a woman) said, "I am not here for this shit. I am not searching that." When the woman objected to be talked to like that, the supervisor told her, "like I said, I don’t know you. I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl. And I really don’t care, I am not searching you."

    City Paper goes on to explain that the DOJ report is especially important for LGBT people because it confirms the reports and anecdotal evidence of targeted policing, particularly of trans women of color:

    What the DOJ report does not mention but is frequently mentioned by the trans community is the amount of searches performed by police simply because someone is trans, especially a trans woman, and even more so if they are a trans woman of color. Moreover, there is a particular kind of harassment by police endured by trans sex workers or even those assumed to be sex workers, which it seems, is any trans woman the police decide could be a sex worker. Being trans appears to be enough evidence that you should be searched and often, possessing condoms and being trans is enough to get you arrested, as many publications have reported over the years.


    The DOJ's look at how the Baltimore Police consistently mistreats the trans community is vital. It is also, like most of the DOJ report, nothing new to those enduring police abuse and harassment. What was well-known within the LGBTQ community and what has been an impossible-to-ignore accumulation of anecdotes ABOUT this kind of police misconduct is now even more clear thanks to the DOJ report.