On November 11, KCRW, a California-based affiliate of NPR which boasts nearly 400,000 regular listeners, hosted guests on its show To The Point to discuss the recent Penn State tragedy in which several young men claim to have been sexually assaulted by football coach Jerry Sandusky. Immediately following that discussion, host Warren Olney convened a panel to discuss the impact of LGBT parents during which Jerry Cox, president of the anti-gay Family Council, made false and inaccurate claims against gay and lesbian parents and families.
To The Point is syndicated on 55 stations across the country -- including large markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Seattle.
Gawker broke the story by highlighting the dangerous and highly problematic coverage.
The discussion, which included John Ireland, a gay father and the founder of the Raise a Child Campaign, was intended to discuss the need to expand the pool of qualified foster care and adoptive parents. Only, instead of speaking to the importance of making sure all children have a loving and permanent home, Cox began viciously attacking gay parents saying: "The gold standard is that the best place for a child to grow up is in a stable home with a loving mother and father. Our [Family Council] position is that if the state is going to take children into custody, it ought to put children in the best homes possible...These children have been damaged, and need a stable home more than any child out there. What does the research and common sense show? You're going to put them in a home with a loving mother and father."
Cox went on to say:
"I find it interesting that we talk about the Penn State situation, and then when we talk about people who claim to have these rights to adopt or foster; in both cases, the children's rights get put in second place. If you give the rights to the adults, the children will be compromised."
[On whether or not loving same-sex-parents homes might be preferable to being trapped in the system:] "If those are the only two choices — child be institutionalized or in a same-sex home — I would like to challenge this and say, maybe the state can do better than that. I blame the state for that. These children need a place to recover."
The facts are entirely clear when it comes to the ability of gay and lesbian couples parenting and raising children:
According to the American Psychological Association Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Parents & Children, "there is no reliable evidence that homosexual orientation per se impairs psychological functioning. Second, beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents have no empirical foundation."
The statement goes on to say, "There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of sexual orientation. On the contrary, results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children."
Immediately after being notified of these vicious and false accusations, GLAAD reached out to the station’s Director of Programming, Gary Scott, to explain the problem with connecting allegations of sexual assault, of any kind, to the countless loving gay and lesbian parents who provide stable and permanent homes to youth across the country and to demand an on-air apology from the station. We also reached out to the program's distributor and syndicator Public Radio International to demand action be taken.
After speaking with GLAAD, Olney issued an apology and agreed to clarify the error on-air on Monday.
"We apologize for any confusion about today’s “To the Point,” which dealt with both the Penn State child-sex scandal and the issue of same-sex couples as foster or adoptive parents. The connection we intended to make was this: a suspected pedophile backed by a powerful institution was allowed to have foster children, while same-sex couples, who can provide loving families, are often denied that opportunity. We'll air listener comments and further discussion on Monday's program."
"Attempting to link these two completely unrelated issues isn't just bad journalism, it's dangerous,” said Mike Thompson, Acting President of GLAAD. “The perpetuation of these myths damages the hundreds of thousands of healthy children being raised by loving gay and lesbian couples today."
On Monday's show, Olney should use the opportunity to not only apologize but to tell his listeners the unequivocal truth about gay and lesbian families.
Further, Olney should explain why anti-gay guest Jerry Cox was given a platform to spread hurtful and untrue misinformation if the show’s intention was to shine light on gay and lesbian couples being denied the opportunity to adopt.
Given the defamatory content, KCRW and PRI should also pull this episode from the show's website.
UPDATE: GLAAD also received the following from PRI's Vice President of Brand Management & Marketing Strategy on Saturday:
Thank you for contacting Public Radio International. We share your concern. Although PRI does not have editorial control over the show -we distribute the program and KCRW produces- once we heard the program yesterday, we began having discussions with the editorial staff of To the Point, and those discussions will continue. To The Point’s statement may be found at:http://www.facebook.com/KCRWToThePoint/posts/10150923740600258
We are also speaking with GLAAD, whose statement may be found here.
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