Tag Archives: Journalism

LGBT discrimination in Florida private schools continues

An excellent example local reporting that has gotten little national attention, Orlando Sentinel published an examination of LGBT discrimination at Christian schools whose students receive taxpayer-funded vouchers. “That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome,” Leslie Postal and Annie Martin dryly note.

The Sentinel found 83 schools that refuse to admit LGBTQ students or could expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered. Some also refuse to educate students whose parents are gay or to hire staff who are gay.

Another 73 schools call being gay or transgender a biblical sin but do not explain how those views play out in admissions or student discipline decisions.


Some of the private schools depend on the vouchers to cover tuition for nearly all their students.

At Worshipers’ House of Prayer Academy in Miami, for example, at least 112 of 130 students got a scholarship last year. The school’s website says it has “zero tolerance” for “homosexual activity” because God calls it “an abomination.”

As the Sentinel reported in its 2017 “Schools Without Rules” series, the private schools that take Florida scholarships operate largely free of state oversight, setting their own standards for teacher credentials, facilities and curriculum, which can fall short of the requirements the state imposes on its public schools.

The schools are also able to set their own admission standards, which could include rules about sexual orientation and gender identity as well as demands for church attendance and certain academic benchmarks, such as satisfactory test scores and good grades.

In the same week that the Supreme Court heard the Montana tax break case , I shudder at the likelihood John Roberts and His Furious Five will affirm a state’s right to pay for private educations using public funds, and the private school administrators have already set themselves up as victims pleading for Fourteenth Amendment protections; they should have the liberty to discriminate against LGBT students, they argue, despite accepting my tax dollars.

These developments represent a triumph for former governor Jeb Bush, whose laughable 2016 campaign for president has wiped the collective memory of his effort to privatize education in Florida — the state with the prettiest name!

Living in radical times requires a muddle: the NYT’s presidential endorsements

“The next president will shape the direction of America’s prosperity and the future of the planet, perhaps irrevocably,” the collective voice of the New York Times editorial board intones near the end of its presidential endorsements. “The current president, meanwhile, is a threat to democracy. He was impeached for strong-arming Ukraine into tampering with the 2020 election. There is no reason patriotic Americans should not be open to every chance to replace him at the ballot box.”

So who then does The Wizened Lady support as the next president in these harrowing times? The senator from Minnesota whom the writers praise as “the very definition of Midwestern charisma, grit and sticktoitiveness.” The candidate with no realistic chance of winning the nomination has earned the support of editorial writers who applaud themselves for their realism, which for the NYT means dismissing Bernie Sanders entirely: “We see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.” Ah, good ol’ divisiveness! There’s no difference between Trump and Sanders rallies, donchaknow. Good on them, I suppose, for also selecting Elizabeth Warren, a selection sanded down by association with Klobuchar. The Minnesotan senator is a candidate who makes a point of tut-tutting, with Midwestern grit and sticktoitiveness, every bold idea proffered by her rivals; this is a candidate who will think like a senator from Minnesota in the 0.004012 chance she wins the nomination and gets elected president; this is a candidate who, according to the NYT’s own reporting, abuses her staff, a trait that — pass the smelling salts — gives the e-board “pause.”

Now for the peroration:

Mr. Biden maintains a lead in national polls, but that may be a measure of familiarity as much as voter intention. His central pitch to voters is that he can beat Donald Trump. His agenda tinkers at the edges of issues like health care and climate, and he emphasizes returning the country to where things were before the Trump era. But merely restoring the status quo will not get America where it needs to go as a society. What’s more, Mr. Biden is 77. It is time for him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders.

Good news, then, that Amy Klobuchar has emerged as a standard-bearer for the Democratic center…

LOL. Okay, old people.

Covering impeachment

Assessing the manner in which the political press has covered Donald J. Trump’s impeachment, Margaret Sullivan decries that press’ instinctive both-sides-do-it position. “The Democrats said this; the Republicans said that; we don’t know — it’s so tribal! — so you decide,” she writes. Sullivan:

In an unceasing effort to be seen as neutral, journalists time after time fell into the trap of presenting facts and lies as roughly equivalent and then blaming political tribalism for not seeming to know the difference.

“Too much coverage seems to have got stuck in a feedback loop,” wrote Jon Allsop in Columbia Journalism Review. “We’re telling the public that politicians aren’t budging from their partisan siloes, and vice versa, with the facts of what Trump actually did getting lost somewhere in the cycle. The cult of ‘both sides’ is integral to this dynamic, and it’s serving the impeachment story poorly.

Without subjecting the press to the rigors of the analysand’s couch, I suspect that the insistence on what reporters consider fair play reflects suppressed guilt over what happened in November 2016. Plus, no one likes them and what they do — a fact with which Chuck Todd is reckoning. Now that he’s made his confessions without his sainted predecessor Tim Russert offering absolution, will Meet the Press cease to exist? Having admitted the show setup exists to gratify liars and dirtbags, Todd would now like to go back to his chair?

‘Bombshell’ can’t do a thing about boring evil people

Charlize Theron is too smart and curious to play Megyn Kelly. Megyn Kelly is not as smart and curious as Charlize Theron. These conclusions erode Bombshell‘s credibility, but, really, a film by the director of Austin Powers and the co-writer of The Big Short about the #MeToo-ing of FOX News CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) at the hands of Kelly, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and several other plaintiffs was bound to be as high in calories and lurid as a FOX morning show. Continue reading

The collapse of the ‘traditional conventions of mainstream journalism’

The collapse of the American media’s political coverage is yet another phenomenon of the Trump era. Sixteen years after the Iraq War started, seventeen years since reporters parroted Condoleeza Rice’s smoking crater nonsense about WMD, the press is no better at covering people who lie to their faces. Most reporters, I assume, have never interviewed a sniveling, humor-immune racist like Stephen Miller. We remain wedded to the norms of journalism school: we still teach variants on “While some people say this sofa is soft, others say the cushions are harder and denser than the surface of the moon.” I teach my students to trust their senses; they don’t need three source to confirm that chocolate is sweet. Continue reading

Messages keep gettin’ queerer: Bruce Springsteen

“What exactly is so queer about Springsteen?” Naomi Gordon-Loebl writes in a terrific piece. “Is it his extreme butchness, so practiced and so precise that he might as well have learned it from the oldest lesbian at a gay bar? Is it because his hard-earned, roughly hewn version of love is recognizable to those of us for whom desire has often meant sacrifice? Or is it something simpler?” For Gordon-Loebl and I, both of us identifying as queer, to become infatuated with Tunnel of Love, the most heteronormative of Springsteen albums, is one of the more delightful ironies of the last few weeks. I especially relished what she wrote about “Walk Like a Man,” my least favorite track, read as an experience of “growing up in a body out of alignment with my gender, trying to walk a path that was not made for my feet and being constantly, painfully aware of the dissonance.”

Continue reading

‘For a second, all that shame — all that stuff — came back to me’

Yes, I know: Brevard County’s Covenant Christian School is a private institution. Yet it accepts public money, presumably so it can exercise its right to fire teachers like Toro Lisciandro for admitting they’re gay:

While many public districts, such as Orange, have policies that ban discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and more, Florida has no law banning discrimination against LGBT employees in general.

And whereas public schools must accept all students, schools in the state’s publicly funded voucher program can refuse to serve LGBT families — even if they get money from the state’s corporate tax credit “scholarship” program.

Many voucher schools actually spell out their discriminatory policies.

At Merritt Island Christian School, homosexuality is the only expulsion-worthy sin for students listed in its “ethics” policy.

At Volusia’s Trinity Christian Academy, students are told that simply saying “I am gay” is “basis for dismissal.”

Those two schools got more than $1.7 million in public money last year.

Please linger on the last sentence from this excerpt of Scott Maxwell’s column. Two phenomena have coincided. First, the redirection of public funds into private institutions; secondly, the disinterest with which Florida legislators view the discriminatory practices of these private institutions. A few months ago Democrats failed to get amendments passed to the bill eventually signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, amendments that would have addressed sexual orientation.