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Right-wing media complain bisexual Superman is “indoctrination,” “deviant”

Right-wing media reacts with homophobic outrage after the new DC Comics Superman comes out as bisexual in the latest issue

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Graphic courtesy of Media Matters for America

By Jane Lee | WASHINGTON – Right-wing media attacked DC Comics and writer Tom Taylor for portraying Superman as bisexual in an upcoming issue of the current series, complaining that they were attempting to cater to the left and sway the minds of children.

On October 11, DC Comics announced that the new Superman Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, has come out as bisexual and will have a male love interest in an upcoming issue. Unsurprisingly, conservative media figures expressed their outrage over the announcement while claiming not to care about a character’s sexuality. Most dismissed the announcement as DC Comics pandering to woke people, while others read a darker meaning, claiming that the decision to portray Superman as bisexual is an attempt to “erase straight white male characters.” 

Here are some examples of homophobic outrage:

Fox News

Fox media contributor Ben Domenech argued “nobody cares” that “Superman is bi.” He also said, “As many comic book industry folks have tried to take advantage of their success at the movies, these types of appeals to woke people and trying to get some new audience for actual comic books, this one is just one more attempt to trend on Twitter for a day.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier10/11/21]

Fox contributor Raymond Arroyo implied bisexual people are more likely to get sexually transmitted infections: “Why are they sexualizing superheroes? … We just wanted them to get the bad guys, not a venereal disease.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle10/11/21

Greg Gutfeld said that “if there was one thing important to me as a 10-year-old reading comic books, it was who the characters were sexually attracted to” and said the stories are “no longer about adventure, it’s about indoctrination.” His show then aired a sketch of Superman’s agents telling him “nobody wants a straight white male superhero anymore, OK. It’s not enough to save people, you have to appeal to LGBTQIA+.” [Fox News, GUTFELD!10/12/21

Co-host Todd Piro claimed that the bisexuality storyline is “bravery for the left, it’s not bravery for the world, and Superman used to fight all injustice.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends First10/12/21]

One America News Network

PragerU’s Will Witt said Superman “was something in America that represents America, right. So instead of creating a new superhero that is gay, … they take an existing superhero and make then that person gay. And so it’s like the left instead of trying to create something new or have a new type of idea, they want to destroy something that’s already been around the cultural lexicon for a long time.” The on-screen chyron during the segment was “Everything Woke Turns to Sh*t.” [One America News Network, Tipping Point with Kara McKinney10/13/21]

Newsmax

Host Greg Kelly said that the sexuality of the new Superman is a “great big phony waste of time. Our culture is involved in a lot of dumb things, and this is one of them.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports10/11/21]

Kelly also tweeted:

EVERYBODY KNOWS SUPERMAN IS NOT GAY. SUPERMAN IS NOT GAY. GIRLS LIKED HIM AND HE LIKED THE LADIES. HE WAS SEEING NUMEROUS WOMEN DURING THE SUPERMAN MOVIE. NOT GAY!

Host Rob Schmitt mocked the storyline, saying, “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a bisexual 17-year-old.” He added that because the Democratic agenda is “pushed always from everywhere …  next thing you know, Wonder Women is going to come out as non-binary” and be known as “Wonder Person.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight10/11/21]

Newsmax hosted a panel on the topic in which guest Rick Green railed at “constant indoctrination” of “children of America” by teaching them “deviant sexual behavior.” Host Shaun Kraisman suggested  that this decision could lead to authors changing the sexuality of other “iconic figures” like James Bond and Ethan Hunt. [Newsmax, The National Report10/12/21]

Co-host Sean Spicer complained that the bisexuality of Superman’s and LEGO’s inclusivity marketing is “almost like we’re creating problems and doing things, like everyone’s going to outdo the next thing.”Co-host Lyndsay Keith claimed it is “very confusing” for children. [Newsmax, Spicer & Co.10/12/21]

Host Eric Bolling preceded his segment by exclaiming, “The woke mob is at it again. What is happening in America, folks? I mean, apparently this is perfectly fine to the leftist running the place.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance10/12/21]

Podcasts

Steven Crowder and his co-hosts made a series of extremely homophobic remarks and claimed that the LGBTQ community is overrepresented in media. The episode aired on YouTube but has since been removed. During the segment, Crowder said that Superman “has a new costume” that now “includes knee pads.” His co-host Dave Landau responded, “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s two fellows sodomizing each other. I’ll be ​darned.” Crowder also suggested that Lois Lane would now need to “get tested.” Lane is the mother of Kent, the new Superman. [Louder with Crowder10/13/21]

While discussing Superman, Matt Walsh claimed that “even the most iconic and enduring characters are forced to undergo this kind of conversion therapy.” Walsh went on to complain that “the percentage of gay and trans characters on TV and in comics now far exceeds the percentage in the general population.” He went on to claim, “They want to erase straight white male characters, because the people doing the erasing despise straight white male people. … They don’t want all the straight white male people in society. They want to create a society filled with different sorts of people.” [The Matt Walsh Show10/13/21]

Ben Shapiro accused DC Comics of “hijacking iconic American figures and then using them for social justice purposes” and “attempting to tell you what morality looks like and to shape the minds of young teenage boys.” [The Ben Shapiro Show10/12/21]

Shapiro also tweeted:

Ben Shapiro tweeted, “Until Superman is a disabled trans man, spare me your pinkwashing, DC Comics”

Other

Far-right pizzagate troll Mike Cernovich tweeted:

Cernovich tweeted, “Today's comic book reader is a man in his 20's and 30's. Gen X freaks out over Superman being whatever, as they / we read comic books as kids. Kids aren't being influenced. My bros, kids aren't reading comics. It's incel man children. Let them read their comics in peace!”

Conservative Tik-Toker Matt Convard tweeted:

Superman ain’t gay, hate to break it to ya [Man shrugging] I don’t feel more represented by turning a straight character gay. I feel embarrassed that straight people who make these comics think that’ll make me happy. Make more *unique gay characters than anything

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Jane Lee is a researcher for Media Matters

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Additional research by  Alicia SadowkiRebecca MartinJason Campbell & Beatrice Mount

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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Research/Study

490,000 LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination in Pennsylvania

Results show that nearly half (47%) of LGBT employees living in Pennsylvania have experienced discrimination

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Map courtesy of Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Facebook

LOS ANGELES – Pennsylvania’s legal landscape puts the state’s 416,000 LGBT adults and 74,000 LGBT youth at risk of discrimination and harassment. The social, economic, and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people negatively impact Pennsylvania’s economy by tens of millions of dollars each year, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

In the study, researchers assessed the prevalence and impact of several forms of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people in Pennsylvania, including harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; harassment and bullying in schools; and family rejection of LGBT youth.

Results show that nearly half (47%) of LGBT employees living in Pennsylvania have experienced discrimination or harassment at some point in their lives. An estimated 38% have looked for other jobs because of how they were personally treated by their employer or because the workplace was uncomfortable for LGBT people, and 11% have left a job because of unfair treatment by their employer.

“Pennsylvania has an opportunity to create a more supportive climate for LGBT people by, for example, including sexual orientation and gender identity in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crimes law, and codifying protections against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination for prospective parents in adoption and foster care,” said lead author Christy Mallory, Legal Director at the Williams Institute.

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

Many LGBT people in Pennsylvania experience economic instability.

  • 27% of LGBT adults in Pennsylvania reported having an annual household income below $24,000, compared to 18% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data. Similarly, 26% of LGBT adults in the state reported that they do not have enough money for food, compared to 13% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 11% of LGBT adults in Pennsylvania reported that they were unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data.

LGBT people in the state experience negative health outcomes associated with stigma and discrimination.

  • Research indicates that stigma and discrimination contribute to adverse health outcomes for LGBT adults, such as major depressive disorder, binge drinking, substance use, and suicidality.
  • LGBT adults in Pennsylvania are significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, to binge drink, and to smoke than non-LGBT adults. According to data from the 2017 and 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey:
    • 42% of LGBT adults in Pennsylvania reported having been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults.
    • 31% of LGBT adults in the state reported binge drinking compared to 17% of non-LGBT adults.
    • 32% of LGBT adults in the state reported that they currently smoke compared to 18% of non-LGBT adults.

Health disparities for LGBT people negatively impact Pennsylvania’s economy.

  • Reducing the disparity in major depressive disorder between LGBT and non-LGBT people in Pennsylvania by 25% to 33% could benefit the state’s economy by $170 million to $225 million annually in increased productivity and reduced health care costs each year.  
  • Reducing the disparity in binge drinking by the same proportion could benefit the state’s economy by $70 million to $93 million in increased productivity and reduced health care costs each year.
  • Reducing the disparity in current smoking by the same proportion could benefit the state’s economy by $112 million to $149 million in increased productivity and reduced health care costs each year.

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News Analysis

Discrimination persists as new LGBTQ+ elder care facilities open

A study found that 67 percent of the LGBTQ elders who responded, “were concerned about neglect in a long-term care setting”

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Photo via Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton, Ohio

WASHINGTON- Lisa Wentzel, an out lesbian, shared her life with her partner of 30 years, Judith Kahn, at the couple’s home in Illinois until Kahn died in 2013 of colon cancer.

As is the case with some same-sex couples who never married, Kahn’s family took legal possession of the couple’s home several years later, forcing Wentzel, who suffered from severe arthritis, to move into the Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a retirement and assisted living facility in Niles, Ill.

According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf in 2016 by the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, when word got out that Wentzel was a lesbian after she disclosed her sexual orientation to a fellow resident, she was called homophobic slurs, spat on, and assaulted on several occasions by other residents of the facility.

The lawsuit, which later resulted in a court ruling in Wenzel’s favor, charged that officials at the Glen St. Andrew facility illegally failed to take action to prevent Wenzel from being subjected to abuse and threats by fellow residents and retaliated against her when she complained.

Lambda Legal announced one year ago, on Nov. 20, 2020, that Wenzel passed away at the age of 73 of natural causes after a landmark 2018 appeals court ruling in her favor affirmed that residential facilities such as the one in which she lived are legally responsible for the safety of tenant residents.

“Marsha spent the rest of her days in a senior living community where she was out and affirmed,” said Lambda Legal attorney Karen Loewy, who represented Wetzel in the lawsuit.

Advocates for LGBTQ seniors were hopeful that the 2018 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling in the Wentzel case would speed up the gradual but steady advances in the rights of LGBTQ elders in long-term care facilities and in society in general.

A short time later, the New York City-based national LGBTQ elder advocacy group SAGE expanded its programs providing cultural competency training for the nation’s long-term care residential facilities. And in some cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, LGBTQ specific retirement and long-term care facilities began to open to provide LGBTQ elders with a wide range of “wrap around” services in addition to a safe place to live.

But LGBTQ elder advocates were taken aback in October of this year when news surfaced that transgender U.S. Army veteran Lisa Oakley, 68, was denied placement in more than two-dozen long-term care facilities in Colorado in 2020 and earlier this year.

“When they found out I was transgender, a lot of the facilities didn’t want me,” Oakley told USA Today. “A lot of transgender people, I’m sure, face the same thing,” she said. “We’re humans, just like everybody else.”

Oakley told other media outlets her ordeal in trying to gain admission to a residential care facility began in October 2020, when she became unable to care for herself due to complications from diabetes. Her first choice was a facility in her hometown in rural Craig, Colo., where she had lived for the previous 25 years. She believes that facility turned her down because of her gender identity.

A social worker who assisted in Oakley’s applications for long-term care facilities said the facility in Craig said Oakley would have to be placed in a private room, which was at the time unavailable, “because she still has her ‘boy parts’ and cannot be placed with a woman” in a shared room.

Many other Colorado facilities to which Oakley applied for admission, according to social worker Cori Martin-Crawford, cited the COVID pandemic as the reason for not accepting new residents. But as COVID related restrictions began to subside, other facilities continued to deny Oakley admission.

With Martin-Crawford’s help, Oakley finally found a facility that is LGBTQ supportive in Grand Junction, Colo., which is nearly three hours away from her hometown of Craig, where she had hoped to remain.

LGBTQ activists expressed concern that the discrimination that Oakley faced took place in the state of Colorado, which has a state law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Experts familiar with long-term care facilities for older adults have said many private elder care facilities can get around state LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws by claiming other reasons for turning down an LGBTQ person.

Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE, told the Blade that the wide range of programs and initiatives put in place by SAGE and other groups advocating for LGBTQ elders in recent years have resulted in significant changes in support of LGBTQ seniors.

“It is the case now that in almost all states there are one or more elder care facilities that have been trained through our SAGECare program,” Adams said. “But it’s nowhere near what it needs to be,” he said. “It needs to be that there are welcoming elder care facilities in every single community in this country” for LGBTQ elders.

Adams was referring to the SAGE program started recently called SAGECare that arranges for employees and other officials at elder care facilities throughout the country to receive LGBTQ competency training. The facilities that participate in the program are designated “SAGECare credentialed,” and are included in SAGE database lists available to LGBTQ elders looking for a safe facility in which to reside.

SAGE spokesperson Christina Da Costa provided the Blade with data showing there have been 136,975 professionals trained at a total of 617 SAGECare credentialed organizations nationwide. Out of 617 organizations, 172 are residential communities. Also, out of the total of 617 are 167 Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Senior Centers, and senior Ombudsman offices.

Da Costa said 278 of the credentialed entities that have received the SAGECare training throughout the country are “other aging focused nonprofit and for-profit businesses.”

According to SAGE, there are 12 SAGECare credentialed elder care facilities or service providers operating in the D.C. metropolitan area, with two located in D.C. One of the D.C. facilities is Ingleside at Rock Creek, located in Northwest D.C., which is a residential facility. The other is Options for Senior America, a company that provides in-home care services for seniors, including seniors living in D.C.

A SAGE list of the D.C.-area SAGECare credentialed facilities shows that three are in Rockville, Md.; two are in Gaithersburg, Md.; and one each are in Bethesda, Md.; Arlington, Va.; and Alexandria, Va. The list shows that one of them that provides services to elders in the D.C. area is based in North Carolina.

SAGE has a separate list of the 15 elder care residential facilities in the U.S. created specifically to serve LGBTQ residents.

None are in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. However, SAGE says it has been working in cooperation with Mary’s House for Older Adults, a D.C.-based LGBTQ organization that advocates for LGBTQ seniors and is in the process of opening LGBTQ elder residential facilities in D.C. and others in the surrounding suburbs.

Mary’s House founder and CEO Dr. Imani Woody couldn’t immediately be reached to determine when the organization expects to open its first residential facility. 

While a residential LGBTQ elder facility has yet to open in the D.C. area, activists note that in addition to Mary’s House, services and amenities for LGBTQ elders in the area are currently being provided by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, which also has a legal services branch.

Adams of SAGE said the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center opened the nation’s first LGBTQ elder residential facility over eight years ago called Triangle Square. He said the L.A. Center opened a second LGBTQ elder residential facility a short time later. And this week, the L.A. Center announced it has opened a third LGBTQ elder residential facility in Hollywood that is part of a larger “intergenerational campus” that will bring together LGBTQ seniors and LGBTQ youth. 

SAGE, meanwhile, operates two LGBTQ elder long-term care residential facilities in New York City, one in Brooklyn called the Stonewall House and one in the Bronx called Pride House. 

The other U.S. cities with LGBTQ elder residential facilities include: Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco (which has two such facilities), San Diego, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, and Islip, N.Y.

Adams said the LGBTQ elder residential facilities range in size, with the largest – New York’s Stonewall House – having 143 apartments that can accommodate 200 residents. He said others vary from 40 or 50 residential units to 120.

Advocates for LGBTQ elders point to what they consider another important breakthrough for LGBTQ elders this year in the release of a joint SAGE-Human Rights Campaign Long-Term Care Equality Index report for 2021. Adams said the report is the first of what could become an annual report and rating and scorecard for long-term care elder residential facilities and other elder facilities. 

The 2021 report includes a self-reporting assessment of elder care facilities that the facilities themselves completed through a questionnaire in which many disclosed they have LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies for elders around admission to the facility and for practices by staff for those residing in their facilities.

The report includes a chart showing that 158 elder care facilities in 31 states responded positively to the outreach to them by organizers of the Long-Term Care Equality Index.

“We are thrilled to be working with SAGE and to be working with the Human Rights Campaign who are developing the Long-Term Care Equality Index,” said Nii-Quartelai Quartey, who serves as senior adviser and LGBTQ liaison for the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP.

“There is a great deal of work that we’re doing in the area of LGBTQ older adults nationwide,” Quartey told the Blade. “And AARP has been engaged with the LGBTQ community nationwide for many years now,” he said.

“In recent years, we’ve turned up the volume in working more closely with organizations like SAGE and Lambda Legal and the Victory Fund Institute, the Center for Black Equity, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and the Hispanic Federation.”

According to Quartey, a recent AARP study of LGBTQ elders called Maintaining Dignity shows that longstanding concerns of discrimination remain despite the many advances in support for LGBTQ seniors in recent years.

He said a survey that was part of the study found that 67 percent of the LGBTQ elders who responded, “were concerned about neglect in a long-term care setting.” Over 60 percent feared verbal or physical harassment in a long-term care setting and over half “felt forced to hide or deny their identity” as an LGBTQ person, Quartey said.

Another recent survey of LGBTQ elders conducted by SAGE asking them how they feel about the use of the word “queer” in descriptions of LGBTQ people yielded findings that came as a surprise to some, according to Adams. A large majority of those surveyed from across the country said they are “comfortable at this point using that word and reclaiming that word, which is different from what we had heard historically,” Adams said.

He said in response to those findings SAGE will now as an organization gradually shift to using the term LGBTQ instead of its past practice of using LGBT.

Although Congress has yet to pass the Equality Act, last year under the Trump Administration, Congress acted in a rare bipartisan way to approve the required five-year reauthorization of the U.S. Older Americans Act with new language supportive of LGBTQ older adults. President Trump signed the legislation.

The language includes a mandate for outreach to and reporting about services provided to LGBTQ older adults in federally funded programs. It also opens the way for LGBTQ older adults to be designated in a category of “greatest social need.” Under that category, older adults receive a higher priority in the allocation of resources by the federal government.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to go to get over the finish line,” said the AARP’s Quartey. “And aside from passing legislation federally and on the state and local level, we absolutely need to continue the hard work of changing hearts and minds,” he said.

Longtime gay activist and writer Brian McNaught, whose latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray – Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives,” was just released, says his own very informal survey of LGBTQ elders found there is a need for intimacy that may be too controversial for the establishment LGBTQ elder groups.

“I’m a SAGE volunteer and the 81-year-old man with whom I was working after his husband of 47 years died, said after his grieving process, ‘I want to be hugged and kissed. Does that make me a bad person?’”

McNaught told the Blade he assured the man those feelings do not make him a bad person. McNaught said the man’s comment prompted him to conduct further research, in which he found that some gay male elders in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area who often need assisted living support would like to patronize gay bathhouses or seek the services of an escort agency. He said he determined that any LGBTQ elder group providing such services would trigger “a huge uproar of protests” and most likely a loss of funding.

“We don’t want to talk about sexuality and aging,” McNaught said.

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Research/Study

One-quarter of LGBT state & local employees experienced discrimination

About half of LGBT people who work in government education and law enforcement are not out to their supervisors

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Over 600,000 LGBT employees are currently employed by state and local governments. One in five LGBT employees has worked in state or local government at some point in their careers, including 9% who have worked solely in state and local government jobs.

A new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds more than one in four (28%) LGBT state and local government employees have experienced discrimination or harassment at work. This includes being fired, not hired, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Using survey data collected in May 2021, researchers examined experiences of employment discrimination and harassment against LGBT people working for state and local governments.

Results indicate that religious beliefs often underlie discrimination and harassment even in government jobs. Among LGBT employees who have experienced mistreatment in the workplace, 85% of state and local government employees said that it was motivated by the employer’s religious beliefs. In contrast, 53% of LGBT employees who have worked only in private sector jobs said that religious beliefs motivated the unfair treatment against them.     

“Despite stronger legal protections for LGBT public sector employees, patterns of discrimination and harassment in state and local government workplaces mirror those observed in private sector employment,” said lead author Christy Mallory, Legal Director at the Williams Institute. “As in the private sector, discrimination and harassment of LGBT state and local government workers is widespread and pervasive.”

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS


Discrimination and Harassment

  • 28% of LGBT employees who have ever worked in state or local government reported experiencing discrimination or harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lives.
    • About one in ten LGBT employees reported being fired (11%) and/or not hired (9%) by a state or local government employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of LGBT state or local government employees reported verbal harassment at work, 9% reported sexual harassment, and 8% reported physical harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • One-third (35%) of LGBT employees who work for state or local government employers have looked for other jobs because of how they were treated based on their LGBT status and/or because the workplace was uncomfortable for LGBTQ people. 

Religious Motivation

  • Among those who have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace, a majority (85%) of LGBT employees who have worked only in state or local government jobs said the unfair treatment they experienced was motivated by religious beliefs.

Avoiding Discrimination

  • 63% of LGBT employees currently employed by state or local governments are not open about being LGBT to their supervisor and 30% are not out to any of their co-workers.
  • About half of LGBT people who have ever worked in K-12 education (49%), higher education (55%), or law enforcement (54%) are not out to their current supervisor.
  • About one-quarter of LGBT employees who have ever worked in K-12 education (25%), higher education (22%), or law enforcement (26%) are not out to any of their co-workers.
  • 42% of LGBT state and local government employees reported taking steps to change how they present themselves at work to avoid discrimination and harassment.

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