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5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Bigotry 101

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Bigotry 101

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Bigotry 101

From lawmakers punishing colleges that include LGBT authors in their curricula to elementary and high schools that would rather silence gay and gender-nonconforming youth than face the bullying head-on, these are the stories that had us screaming at the screen this week.


Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. This week, homophobia in the classroom takes center stage — from South Carolina lawmakers punishing colleges that include LGBT authors in suggested reading lists, to an elementary school in North Carolina where administrators decided the best way to deal with a child getting beaten up for bringing a My Little Pony backpack was to… tell the kid to leave the bag at home. Read on to see what made the cut in this week's outrageous headlines, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day. 


5. South Carolina House OK's Funding Cuts to Universities That Feature Gay Authors

Remember last week, when we told you about a not-so-subtle effort by several conservative South Carolina lawmakers to punish two public universities for including books by and about LGBT people in their curricula? 

Well, guess what, folks: A majority of South Carolina's House of Representatives thinks that idea is just peachy. That's why, on Wednesday, that chamber passed the proposed budget with nearly $70,000 in combined cuts to the University of South Carolina Upstate and the College of Charleston. 

So what exactly were these hideously offensive texts that were forced upon the poor, innocent minds of South Carolina's freshman class this year? 

The University of South Carolina Upstate selected gay author Alison Bechdel's award-winning graphic novel and memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (pictured above) as part of its optional freshman reading list, and the College of Charleston assigned gay poet and professor Ed Madden's Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio as summer reading for its English 101 course — which can be taken as a freshman or sophomore. In response, a group of conservative lawmakers are planning to punish the schools by cutting $17,163 from USC Upstate's funding and $52,000 from the College of Charleston's state allocation. 

The budget — with the college funding cuts included — now moves on to the State Senate, where it will be assigned to and debated in committee before possibly reaching the Senate floor. If the budget passes the Republican-controlled Senate, it would go to the desk of Republican governor Nikki Haley, who has yet to indicate whether she would approve the cuts, according to CNN.


4. In The Graham Family, The Apple Doesn't Fall From the Homophobic Tree

The Rev. Billy Graham was a veritable pioneer in religion-based antigay rhetoric, so perhaps it's not surprising that his son has picked up the homophobic mantle his father no doubt preached will all the fire and brimstone he could muster in the younger Graham's childhood home. 

Still, it's a little disconcerting to see Billy's son, Franklin Graham, getting ideologically cozy with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose campaign to scapegoat and criminalize LGBT people has led to those people being beaten, arrested, and sometimes killed in Mother Russia. But that's all fine and dandy by Franklin Graham's definition. In fact, Comrade Putin is totally on the right track to protect Russian morality! 

"Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?," wrote Graham in his own magazine last week. "In my opinion, Putin is right on [LGBT] issues,” Graham continued. "Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda."

So just make sure we've got this straight: Annexing the peninsula attached to a sovereign nation — bad. Declaring any positive discussion or depiction of LGBT people illegal — good, brave, and right. 

May we suggest you take a one-way trip to Moscow then, Mr. Graham? We're sure Putin and his cronies in the Russian Orthodox Church could find you a nice cushy gig where your blatant homophobia will get the reverence you clearly think it deserves. 

Find more outrage on the following pages...


3. Wendy Williams Joins The 'Ignorant Cisgender People Making Uneducated Comments About Trans Folks' Club

Welcome, Wendy! You're in such great company! 

On her eponymous talk show Friday, Wendy Williams launched into an unexpectedly transphobic tirade, proving — once again — that just because someone is a gay ally, doesn't mean they have the slightest clue about how to show trans people basic human respect. 

In discussing the lawsuit brought by transgender athlete Chloie Jonsson — who is suing CrossFit after being told she was ineligible for the women's competition despite being legally and physically female because she was "born male" — Williams trotted out some of the most uncreative transphobic tropes around. 

Friday's segment opened with an ever-so age-appropriate joke about Jonsson's last name. You get it? Because "johnson" can be a synonym for penis! Haha!  Then Williams gave her panelists a chance to weigh in about all the "guy muscles, and the juices!" Jonsson must have flowing through her veins… Despite the fact that Jonsson began transitioning more than eight years ago, has been on hormone replacement therapy since that time, and also happens to have undergone gender-affirming surgery. And, you know, despite the reaffirmed conclusions of the medical community that after as little as a year on hormone replacement therapy, transgender women's muscle mass, bone density, and even their testosterone levels tend to be equal to or lower than the average cisgender (nontrans) woman's readings.

But Wendy preferred to look to Chaz Bono, tossing in numerous misgenderings, just for good measure? 

"This is an unfair advantage," Williams shreiked. "You can take away female or male parts or whatever — it's like Chaz Bono! You know, Chaz is a man now, but I bet she still fights like a girl like the rest of us, and she's not as strong as a man who was born a man."

How did she manage to get so much transphobia and misogyny into just a few sentences? That takes talent. 

To her credit, Williams did apologize via Twitter, saying that Jonsson's case has "clearly split public opinion & needs more visibility." Because public opinion should definitely be the standard by which discrimination suits are settled. Sorry, Woolworth's lunch-counter picketers. We don't see nothing wrong here! 

Even Williams' more direct Twitter apology was half-hearted and dripping with straight cis privilege though, offering a metaphorical "oopsie!" but no substantive mea culpa for her damaging rhetoric.

2. Arkansas Yearbook Doesn't Want Students Remembering They Had a Gay Classmate

That's the none-too-subtle message coming from administrators at Sheridan High School in Arkansas, where a profile of a 17-year-old student who happens to be gay has reportedly been pulled from the yearbook

The administrators are refusing to publish a profile of an openly gay student in the school's yearbook, claiming the article is "too personal" and could lead to bullying. 

But 17-year-old Taylor Ellis, the student profiled in the censured article, says he understood the implications of sharing his story. 

"This was just letting people that it's OK to be gay," Ellis told Little Rock TV station KARK Friday. "And if you are gay, that if you come out, it's not that big of a deal. It won't ruin your life."

But you know what could have a lasting impact? The message sent by your high school that who you love is so offensive that it wipes out every other meaningful and noteworthy accomplishment you've achieved while a student. What could be even more damaging? If it turns out to be true that all the scheduled student profiles were pulled from the yearbook in response to this one "scandalous" story about — gasp! — how accepting Ellis's peers have been since he came out on social media last year. 

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, an Arkansas native, agrees with that assessment, and has since issued numerous calls for the school to reinstate Ellis' profile.

"Regardless of print deadlines, it would be unconscionable to release the yearbook with the omission of Taylor's well-deserved profile," writes HRC president Chad Griffin in a letter to Sheridan School District superintendent Brenda Haynes. "If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation — that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid. Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor's fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalized that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body."

Find the most outrageous story on the next page...


1. Victim-Blaming Rears Its Ugly Head Against 9-Year-Old With My Little Pony Backpack

In case you thought victim-blaming was limited to the sexual assault-deniers and those who think all women are lustful whores, never fear! The disingenuous tactic is now being used against boys who are the victims of schoolyard bullies. Ah, progress…?

Grayson Bruce, a 9-year-old who attends Buncombe County Schools in North Carolina, said he was bullied by numerous kids at school over his My Little Pony backpack — and was even punched to the ground over it. 

But clearly taking a zero-tolerance approach to the issue, administrators decided that once the harassment became too severe, they wouldn't discipline the kids shoving Bruce around, oh no. Instead, they told Bruce that he could no longer bring the bag to school.

Bruce said he does not feel safe at school and that he isn't sure how much more of the bullying he can take. His mother said the school's claim that her son's backpack is a trigger for bullying is just like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape, calling that line of thinking "flawed logic." We're inclined to agree.

"They're taking it a little too far," the impressively eloquent 9-year-old old Asheville TV station WLOS. "With punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names — stuff that really shouldn't happen"

In a statement sent to Asheville TV station WLOS, the school district said it took an "initial step" to "immediately address a situation that created a disruption in the classroom." The statement went on to assure viewers that Buncombe County School district "takes bullying very seriously, and we will continue to take steps to resolve this issue."

Perhaps some of those steps should involve disciplining the students who are assaulting a classmate? No? OK. Let's just tell the kid to stop bringing that damn girly bag to school. What a lesson to impart on our young people.

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Sunnivie Brydum

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>