Fox News has been devoting a significant amount of attention lately to the recently released documentary Bully, which follows five examples of school bullying over the course of a year. Although the network has so far given the film positive reviews, Fox changed its tone Wednesday morning.
During the April 4th edition of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy hosted a segment asking whether bullying had become “an exaggerated epidemic,” highlighting a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Stop Panicking About Bullies.” Nick Gillespie, the op-ed's author and editor of Reason.com, argued that the current effort to curb school bullying is “causing as many problems as it solves” :
Gillespie relies on data that suggests that bullying has not increased, but he only refers to reports about what is documented in schools. Despite acknowledging the technology young people have access to, he completely ignores the significant impact that cyberbullying now has on young people.
This type of Fox segment - challenging the idea that school bullying is a serious problem - is nothing new. The network has consistently worked to downplay and ignore stories about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment while attacking a wide variety of efforts to curb anti-LGBT hostility in schools. Floating the idea that bullying statistics may be exaggerated fits nicely into the right-wing pattern of disregarding the importance of making schools safe environments for LGBT youth. As a report from People for the American Way recently noted:
Ignoring the clear signs of bullying directed towards gay and gay-perceived students does more than perpetuate the problem and lend undeserved credibility to Religious Right attacks on LGBT people and their allies. It undermines the creation of safe and welcoming schools, and puts the well-being and the very lives of American students at risk. [emphasis added]