Metro Weekly

HRC Demotes Fox News From Top LGBTQ Employers List

The decision was spurred by the Fox News Channel's "misinformation" over Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill and LGBTQ issues.

Fox News satellite truck – Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang, via Wikimedia

The Human Rights Campaign has demoted Fox Corporation from its list of the top LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces as part of its Corporate Equality Index (CEI), following Fox News’ coverage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and other LGBTQ issues.

Published annually by HRC, the CEI measures the level of commitment that employers have to providing workplaces that respect their LGBTQ workers and offer benefits equal to those their heterosexual co-workers receive.

Companies are graded on whether they have LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination policies in place, comprehensive health benefits that cover the cost of transition-related care for transgender employees, benefits packages, including health insurance and retirement benefits, that recognize same-sex spouses and partners as dependents or beneficiaries, and LGBTQ-inclusive workplace diversity training, among other factors.

Fox Corp. had previously earned a 100% rating as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ equality on the 2021 Corporate Equality Index.

But HRC decided to dock the company 25 points for Fox News’ ongoing culture war attacking LGBTQ advocates, particularly members of the transgender community, reports Deadline.

In recent months, the news channel has run several stories and included commentary from on-air personalities railing against the inclusion of transgender female athletes in women-designated sports, as well as “gender ideology” and LGBTQ content in classrooms, and has praised anti-LGBTQ legislation approved by Republican governors and legislatures ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

“Fox News has a history of sharing misinformation and disinformation about the LGBTQ+ community,” HRC’s Aryn Fields said in a statement. “We know from our own research, which we put out earlier this week, what their disinformation and misinformation means for the LGBTQ+ community: perpetuating stigma and marginalization of transgender and non-binary people.

“At a time when transgender people — especially transgender children — are under attack in statehouses across the country, rhetoric has real consequences. We can no longer allow Fox Corporation to maintain its score if Fox News personalities and contributors continue to deny the existence of transgender people, minimize the violence transgender individuals face, refer to parents of LGBTQ+ youth as perverts, or equate leaders of LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion efforts with sex offenders. Each of these actions happened in the last 72 hours. Enough is enough.”

In response, Fox News pointed to its hiring of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender former Olympian and former gubernatorial candidate, as evidence of its efforts to be inclusive.

It also pointed to a number of LGBTQ benefits offered in support of same-sex couples and health care benefits for trans and nonbinary employees, including insurance coverage for gender confirmation surgery and puberty blockers for transgender youth dependents.

But the progressive advocacy group Media Matters for America has pointed out that Fox News personalities attacked The Walt Disney Co. after it expressed opposition to the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents.

The bill, recently signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade, and allows parents to sue school districts if they believe the law has been violated.

According to Media Matters, Fox News has mentioned Disney more than 350 times this week, dedicating more than three hours of coverage to the company and its support of LGBTQ inclusion, its dedication to allowing creators to develop LGBTQ characters, and its opposition to the Florida bill, with many commentators framing the issue as one of parental rights or accusing Disney and other opponents of “grooming” children — attacks that LGBTQ advocates echo rhetoric from past decades casting all LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ teachers, as threats to children.

HRC has previously, though rarely, punished companies for anti-LGBTQ actions.

Saks Fifth Avenue had its score suspended in 2015 after the company claimed that transgender employees were not covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — a view that was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court in 2020.

In 2017, HRC demoted Bank of America and Blue Cross of North Carolina in the CEI  for the role those companies played in helping Republicans broker a so-called “compromise” in North Carolina imposing a four-year moratorium on LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

In 2019, HRC suspended Hallmark Cards Inc.’s score after the company caved to anti-LGBTQ groups by pulling an ad from the Hallmark Channel that depicted a lesbian couple getting married.

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