You might have heard that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning youth are four times more likely to commit or attempt suicide than their straight peers. They face disapproval at home and bullying at school. Though some churches are gay affirming, many others demand that gays be celibate and/or attend conversion therapy. Their self-esteem plummets as everyone around them bombards them with messages that their feelings are wrong, unnatural, and immoral.
And the problem doesn’t stop with these kids hurting themselves, they’re also being hurt by their peers at school. And I don’t just mean emotionally. The 2007 National School Climate Survey found that 44% of LGBT students reported being physically harrassed and 22% reported being physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation in the past year.
Adults should be helping protect these vulnerable children, but in the case of Sacramento radio hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States, they did just the opposite. During their May 28 show on KRXQ 98.5FM, the two spent half an hour talking about what attention-seeking “freaks” and “idiots” transgendered children are. They encouraged parents to verbally degrade children who experiment with gender expression. States said if his son ever wanted to wear high heels that he’d beat him with a shoe, “Because you know what? Boys don’t wear high heel shoes. And in my house, they definitely don’t wear high heels.” They suggested that shock therapy could “cure” transgendered kids. Huffington Post has a good article about the show. During their June 3 broadcast, they insisted their comments were a joke. Rashad Robinson,media programs director for GLAAD, said they were not satisfied with the response. He said these types of remarks dehumanize LGBT people and “it sends a dangerous message that this kind of defamation against our community is OK.” Barbara O’Connor of California State University, Sacramento’s Institute for the Study of Politics and Media sees it differently and says the effect is limited. She said, “It reinforces existing attitudes of the listenership. … It doesn’t incite them, just affirms them.” O’Connor is probaby right that a show like this wouldn’t change a tolerant parent into an intolerant one. But listeners who hold these views shouldn’t be affirmed, and I think that was part of Robinson’s point.