A settlement was reached Thursday in the nearly decade-old case of a Christian flower shop owner in Washington state who refused to provide a same-sex couple flowers for their wedding despite the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court left intact the state court rulings against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, in July. Shortly afterward, Stutzman petitioned for a rehearing.
Stutzman withdrew her petition Thursday and agreed to pay a settlement of $5,000 to the couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.
“We took on this case because we were worried about the harm being turned away would cause LGBTQ people. We are glad the Washington Supreme Court rulings will stay in place to ensure that same-sex couples are protected from discrimination and should be served by businesses like anyone else,” the couple said in a statement. “It was painful to be turned away and we are thankful that this long journey for us is finally over.”
The case dates to 2013, when Stutzman refused to provide flowers for the couple’s wedding. She said it would violate her Southern Baptist beliefs and her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Using an argument similar to that of Colorado baker Jack Phillips in the hot-button 2018 Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Stutzman argued that her floral arrangements are works of art and that having to create them for same-sex weddings would trample on her freedom of expression.
A lower court ruled in 2015 that Stutzman broke a Washington law that bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the couple in 2017 and then again in 2019, findingthat selling flowers for a wedding “does not inherently express a message about that wedding.”
Ingersoll and Freed will donate the $5,000 to a local chapter of PFLAG, an LGBTQ advocacy group, and they also plan to match the donation, Thursday’s statement said.
The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday announced a proposal that would rescind a Trump administration rule that expanded a religious exemption from anti-discrimination laws for federal contractors.
The rule, which went into effect in the last days of the administration of President Donald Trump, broadened the exemption to include employers who “hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose.” The exemption previously applied to a more narrowly defined set of religious groups.
By rescinding the rule, the department will return to policies consistent with those in place during the administrations of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, Jenny Yang, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said in an interview.
“We are proposing a rescission of the religious exemption rule to protect workers from discrimination and safeguard principles of religious freedom,” Yang said.
The Trump administration framed the rule as a necessary step to ensure the full participation of religious organizations in the federal contractor system. But critics of the rule, including LGBTQ groups, warned that it would open the door to discrimination.
In light of pre-existing protections for religious organizations, the OFFCP found the Trump rule to be “unnecessary and problematic,” Yang said. Rescinding the rule would help ensure the exemption is applied consistently, she added.
“The proposed rescission would also promote economy and efficiency in federal procurement by preventing the exclusion of qualified and talented employees on the basis of protected characteristics,” she said. “This ensures that taxpayer funds are not used to discriminate.”
The OFCCP enforces discrimination and wage-and-hour laws against federal contractors. In 2014, the agency banned contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Danish toymaking giant Lego on Monday pledged to remove gender bias from its toys after research found girls were being held back by gender stereotypes.
The company, whose colorful building blocks and figurines sell in more than 130 countries, said it wants to make its products more inclusive so that children’s ambitions are not limited by gender.
“The company will ensure any child, regardless of gender identity, feels they can build anything they like,” Lego said in a statement.
Lego vowed to make its products “free of gender bias and harmful stereotypes,” saying there is a need for wider society to “rebuild perceptions.”
Lego did not elaborate on what exactly it would modify about its products to bring about these changes. However, in an emailed statement to NBC News, the company said it has transitioned its product and marketing department from gender-focused product groups to groups focusing on “passions and interests.” The company also said it has recently published a diversity and inclusivity playbook for its product design and marketing teams.
“The benefits of creative play such as building confidence, creativity and communication skills are felt by all children and yet we still experience age-old stereotypes that label activities as only being suitable for one specific gender,” Julia Goldin, chief product and marketing officer, said in a company statement.
Lego’s promise came as the company released new research showing that girls were more open to engage in different types of play than boys, but societal norms about play, including attitudes of their parents, limited their potential.
The research involved nearly 7,000 parents and children in seven countries, Lego said.
Some praised Lego’s decision, saying other companies would feel compelled to follow its lead.
“If manufacturers and stores alike stop relying on gender stereotyping in their appeals to children, we could begin to see more noticeable changes to the children’s marketplace,” Rebecca Hains, professor of media and communication at Salem State University and children’s media culture expert, said in a Facebook post, commenting on the announcement.
“They’re such a force in the industry that perhaps where Lego goes, others will follow,” she said.
The United Kingdom-based Let Toys Be Toys campaign, which challenges gender stereotypes in toy marketing, also welcomed the news on Twitter, saying the negative effects of gender stereotyping on children is something they have been raising with Lego since 2012. It also noted purple and blue branding of some Lego sets, catering to boys and girls differently.
“The idea that girls and boys play or should play with different toys is harmful — it reinforces harmful stereotypes,” said Pragya Agarwal, behavioral scientist and visiting professor of inequities and social justice at England’s Loughborough University.
On Saturday, California became the first state to say large department stores must display products like toys in gender-neutral ways.
The United Nations says that while some progress has been made in recent years, women and girls still carry the burden of gender inequality, with discriminatory laws and social norms remaining pervasive, and women continuing to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership. Its 2020 report found that less than 50 percent of working-age women are in the labor market, and unpaid domestic and care work falls disproportionately on women, restraining their economic potential.
A 2020 report by The Fawcett Society, a U.K. gender equality group, found that harmful gender stereotypes can significantly limit children’s potential, and the toys they play with can be a contributing factor. It found that 66 percent of parents want to see companies voluntarily advertise toys to boys and girls in the same way
During the design process, Rudnicka said she consulted with gynaecologistsand psychologists, and also interviewed potentials customers.
She said: “I wanted to create a device that would help them focus on something other than just getting pregnant.
“In a survey I did of couples, the majority said that even if at-home insemination can be less effective they still want to try it in their own bed.”
Although home insemination is a great option for many couples, it is not always as effective as other methods like intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro insemination (IVF), which can be better choices for those struggling with fertility.
Rudnicka explained: “This is not a device for people who have been trying to get pregnant for years.
“It’s for couples where one side has HIV, for lesbian couples, transgender people and those with disabilities – people who are unable to conceive during their regular sexual activity… The hope is to make it a ‘first step’ people can take before resorting to the sterile medical procedure at the hospital.”
The Way is not yet on the market, and is still in the prototype phase, but the designer hopes it will be available for purchase in the near future.
A sign displayed by a Tennessee franchise of the anti-LGBT+ fast food chain Chick-fil-A has gone viral for condemning discrimination… against anti-maskers and the unvaccinated.
The sign, pasted on the window of the Chick-fil-A in Franklin, Tennessee, reads: “We do not discriminate against unvaccinated, religion, race, sex, vaccinated, maskless, mask. All neighbours are welcome.”
When the message was shared on Twitter by anti-LGBT+ right-wing YouTuber Lauren Chen, social media users were quick to point out that “equating mask/vaccine policy with religion/ race/ sex is so fundamentally stupid”, and that one significant group was missing from the list.
One Twitter user wrote: “They don’t discriminate against sex, just sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Would you like a delta variant combo with your order today?”
The Chick-fil-A sign on discrimination is painfully ironic, considering the chain’s anti-LGBT+ stance
Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT+ organisations over the years, but in 2019 it announced a decision to end donations to organisations which discriminate against LGBT+ people.
The Chick-fil-A billionaire was found to be donating to the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), the sixth largest charity in the US and the leader in the fight against the Equality Act, which aims to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The money donated to the NCF, a donor-advised fund, then goes to other groups, some of which are at the forefront of the fight against passing the Equality Act.
In 2018, it gave a massive grant of $6,585,923 (£4,647,620) to the viciously anti-LGBT+ Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
Newly leaked documents show that Netflix investigated one of its top executives for “aggressive and intimidating” behaviour that was not inclusive of the LGBT+ community.
The internal investigation was triggered by claims made against vice president for original content in Spain and Portugal, Diego Avalos, via an anonymous tip-line.
The inquiry, which concluded this spring, found his actions to be “deeply concerning”, according to documents procured by Bloomberg.
A report stated that Avalos “used language or demonstrated an attitude in various meetings that was not inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community and/or employees with children”.
In a letter sent on 9 April, Avalos’ behavior is described as “extremely direct”, with Hatimi writing that Netflix was aware his “style” could be viewed as “aggressive and intimidating”.
However, Netflix decided to allow Avalos to remain in his position. The same letter said Netflix would give Avalos a chance to “change his communication and leadership style”, and provide “tough feedback” and coaching to support this.
The news comes amid a storm of criticism over Netflix’s recent work with comedian Dave Chappelle. A number of jokes that punched down on trans people feature in Chapelle’s new comedy special, The Closer, prompting trans employees to plan a mass walkout.
Netflix fires employee who leaked investigation
The letter went on to state that a number of the company’s leaders, including global head of TV Bela Bajaria and VP of original series for EMEA Larry Tanz, knew of the investigation and would address their decision to keep Avalos on at a later date. They felt Avalos deserved a second chance, but would be “held accountable for immediate growth”.
“The decision to give Diego a chance to change his leadership and communication style, further develop his inclusion lens and rebuild trust was not made lightly,” Hatimi and Verdier wrote. It was emphasised that Avalos “took responsibility” and “owned that his choices and behaviors are inconsistent with Netflix’s values” causing “some members of the Spanish office to feel anxious and intimidated”.
The result may be less than satisfactory to critics, given Avalos is one of Netflix’s most important executives in one of its largest markets in Europe. Even more so given Netflix has now fired the employee believed to have shared details of the investigation.
A Netflix official said the employee, who was fired on Friday (15 October), had leaked confidential information that was cited in a story by Bloomberg. The outlet said the company doesn’t discuss how it may have obtained confidential information.
Netflix has said it has made inclusion a priority in recent years, hiring a head of diversity and inclusion in 2018 and boosting representation of different racial and ethnic minorities in Hollywood.
Avalos was first hired by Netflix in 2014 as an executive working in content acquisition for Latin America. He was involved in developing and producing La Casa de Papel, also known as Money Heist, Netflix’s most-watched Spanish-language show.
Netflix refuses to budge on Dave Chappelle
Alongside prominent LGBT+ figures, many Netflix employees have spoken out against the company both internally and on social media over Dave Chappelle’s anti-trans special. The worker outcry has been one of the biggest the streaming giant has ever faced.
The controversy has only been fanned by top Netflix officials doubling down on their stance to stand by Chappelle and keep the special on the platform. This includes co-CEO Ted Sarandos who sent a widely criticised memo in response to the situation.
Netflix is “working hard to ensure marginalised communities aren’t defined by a single story”, said Sarandos in the memo. “So we have Sex Education, Orange Is the New Black, Control Z, Hannah Gadsby, and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix. Key to this is increasing diversity on the content team itself.”
“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate,” he added. “We don’t allow titles [at] Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognise, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
“Often, the people who make decisions in the industry about content at the highest levels (what gets predicted, how it is framed, and how it is promoted/marketed) check most of all of these boxes – and almost none of them are trans,” Terra Field wrote.
The outcry by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and allies since the release last week of the Netflix Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The Closer, regarding transphobic and other anti-LGBTQ innuendo and statements by the comedian grew on Monday after the company suspended one of its Trans employees.
Adding more fuel to the ongoing controversy in a memorandum to the company’s staff members obtained by entertainment trade news magazine Variety, sent last week by Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, the company executive defended Chappelle.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him. His last special “Sticks & Stones,” also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos wrote in the memo.
“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” he added.
Sarandos in his memo wrote, “Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
LGBTQ Media watch group GLAAD responded to Sarandos’ memo saying that anti-LGBTQ content is technically against Netflix policy.
“Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” the statement reads. “While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”
After the special aired, Terra Field, an Out Trans Netflix senior software engineer based in San Francisco, posted a series of tweets that expressed anger over Chappelle’s blatant transphobia.
Field in her Twitter thread countered the position laid out by Sarandos, pointing out that Chappelle’s promoting the kind of ideology and speech can result in real-world consequences especially death for Trans people.
In her tweets, Field writes, “Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the Trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups. You’re going to hear a lot of talk about ‘offense.’ We are not offended.”
Field went on to say of Chappelle, “our existence is ‘funny’ to him – and when we object to his harm, we’re ‘offended.’” She then listed numerous names of Trans people, specifically highlighting Trans women of color, killed in hate crimes. The thread went viral and as of Monday, the initial tweet had more than 13,000 retweets and 35,000 likes.
In reporting by both The Verge and Variety on Monday, Field and two other employees were suspended by the company although Netflix denies that Field was suspended due to the twitter thread. A source in the company told Variety that Field, who identifies as queer and Trans, and the other employees were not invited to the virtual gathering last week of the company’s executives, the “QBR” — Netflix’s quarterly business review, a two-day affair that convenes the top 500 employees at the company.
“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety.
Neither Field nor Netflix responded to requests for comment Monday by the Blade.
America’s vulnerable LGBTQ+-owned restaurants and bars serving food will find a vital lifeline this fall stemming from the partnership formed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Grubhub. These small business owners have been among hardest hit by Covid impact with loss of jobs and income over the past two years.
Grubhub, a leading U.S. food-ordering and delivery marketplace, and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBTQ+ community and certifying body for LGBTQ+-owned businesses nationwide, have opened applications for their NGLCC/Grubhub Community Impact Grant Program. The grants are expected to range from $5,000 to $100,000.
“We often say at NGLCC that ‘If you can buy it, an LGBTQ+-owned business can supply it.’ That is especially true of the LGBTQ+-owned restaurants across America who kept our communities and first responders fed throughout the pandemic. We’re proud to partner with Grubhub in offering these grants to support these businesses throughout the nation. America’s 1.4 million LGBTQ+-owned business owners have shown incredible resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, in turn, we can help them recover stronger than ever,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson.
Throughout June, NGLCC was named the official partner of Grubhub’s Donate the Change program, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for organizations in need since launching in late 2018. The partnership welcomed Grubhub and Seamless diners to opt-in, round up their order total, and donate the difference, with the company matching eligible donations from Grubhub+ members. The proceeds raised will now be made available through NGLCC to support the LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ+-owned restaurants.
“As the world starts to return to a new normal, we know many businesses are rebuilding and reopening, especially LGBTQ+-owned restaurants that are often the pillars of their communities,” said Kevin Kearns, senior vice president of restaurants at Grubhub. “We’re thrilled to partner with NGLCC and give back to the LGBTQ+ community – one that has shown incredible strength and support for those in need throughout the pandemic.”
Under the innovative grant program, the NGLCC has set a goal to allocate 30 percent of the funds to businesses owned by people of color and transgender/gender non-conforming individuals.
NGLCC and its partners will expertly evaluate applications after the October 12, 2021 closing date. Major grantees will be awarded onstage during the NGLCC Back To Business (B2B) Summit in Hollywood, Florida this November, as well as in local communities.
The NGLCC’s network of more than fifty Affiliate Chambers across America will help amplify this grant opportunity to support local restaurants. Those local chambers will also benefit from this initiative’s newly established “Affiliate Chamber Fund.” This fund will enable any establishment that receives a Community Impact Grant Program that is not currently a member of an NGLCC local affiliate chamber to have one year of membership paid. Additionally, many of NGLCC’s more than 300 corporate partners enhanced their Pride 2021 programming with food orders from Grubhub during their programming with Employee Resource Groups and community partners – a best practice expected to continue throughout future Pride celebrations.
For more information on the Community Impact Grant Program regarding restaurant eligibility requirements, timelines, how to apply, and more, please visit www.nglcc.org/ghgrant.
About NGLCC The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC is the exclusive certification body for LGBT-owned businesses, known as Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTBE®) suppliers. www.nglcc.org @nglcc
Gay Times, one of the world’s longest-running print magazine for the LGBT+ community, has ceased printing after nearly 50 years.
The UK-based magazine was first published in 1984, but its predecessors date as far back as 1975. During that time it’s been a vital resource for LGBT+ people in periods of misinformation and violent rhetoric, from the early days of the Gay Liberation Front through to the repeal of Section 28.
The magazine had been in print every month since its launch until 2020, when it moved to quarterly publication, but is now going purely digital to reflect a decline in offline readers. Just two per cent of its readers consume the print magazine.
“We’re incredibly excited about the changes here at Gay Times,” editorial director Lewis Corner told PinkNews.
“It’s always sad to stop doing something after so long – especially when it concerns a legacy product,” the publication added in a statement to its audience.
“We know that continuing to push Gay Times into new areas and to new heights ensures it will be the very best it can be for a new generation.”
Gay Times says that the decision to cease the physical magazine had been planned for some time and says that it also considered the environmental impact of printing issues.
“Any print magazine production demands significant natural resources, so this was one of the main factors in the decision.”
Although you won’t be seeing the familiar cover on magazine shelves anymore, Gay Times magazine will continue as a digital publication with 12 issues a year.
Gay Times magazine ending its print edition comes amid a difficult time for journalism in the UK.
In recent years print titles such as Glamour, Q and NME had all disappeared from shelves and migrated online. Digital-only publications BuzzFeed and HuffPost have closed their entire UK news operations, with Vice also making some staff redundant.
As the OnlyFans debacle highlights, the fight to supposedly make the internet a safer place is having a series of secondary impacts. In particular, it is having a silencing effect on key aspects of LGBTQ culture. But that’s just fine for the anti-LGBTQ groups that have lobbied Congress to crack down on OnlyFans and on sexuality in general.
On Aug. 10, over 100 conservative-leaning members of Congress wrote a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate OnlyFans. Alleging child sexual exploitation, the lawmakers cited research by an anti-LGBTQ group called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Formerly known as Morality in Media, the group has boycotted Disney for extending benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees and called for a boycott of Time Warnerafter the release of Madonna’s 1992 book “Sex,” which the group called “sick, violent pornography.” Its president, Patrick A. Trueman, formerly led the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a hate group for its longtime anti-LGBTQ views and campaigns.
NCOSE isn’t the only group lobbying corporate interests and the government to eradicate sexual content, but it’s arguably the leader in the field, having railed against public displays of sexuality since 1962 and spending $5.1 million to do so in 2020.
I’m not going to argue whether or not there’s sex trafficking happening on the internet. But many of the groups leading the charge against it have other agendas, and their one-size-fits-all attempts to guard the internet against traffickers end up not only duping well-intentioned supporters, but also threatening the incomes of already marginalized workers and swallowing entire communities into a consuming maw of fundamentalist Christian, anti-sex censorship.
Their one-size-fits-all attempts to guard the internet against traffickers end up not only duping well-intentioned supporters, but also threatening the incomes of already marginalized workers.
In August, The New Yorker spoke with queer historians about how the ban eradicated a market for materials, from conceptual art to the vital gay leather magazine Drummer, that even museums depend on for acquisitions. Drummer featured plenty of shirtless men on its covers, but it also included important information for the leather community. And highlighting the seemingly arbitrary nature of this ban, the iconic women-run erotic magazine On Our Backs was somehow spared.
Meanwhile, FOSTA-SESTA made a queer comic artist cancel the publishing of her own book (in which a sex worker was interviewed) because she worried she could be accused of sex trafficking. “We already face steep barriers in advertising due to mainstream society’s tendency to frame LGBT as inherently sexual, regardless of heat level,” romance writer Katie de Long told Rolling Stone in 2018. “This is only gonna get worse under policies that say simply mentioning terms related to our sexuality or identities can get us banned.”
FOSTA-SESTA’s impact has also had a silencing effect on sex educators, a vital resource for the many LGBTQ youth across the country who are given no information in school about their sexuality and gender identity. Of the 50 U.S. states, only a handful require school-based sex education be inclusive of LGBTQ people. In most of America, queer and trans youth must take their questions about identity and sex to internet search bars and social media accounts. Those questions often have life-altering implications, whether the answers are aimed at preventing sexually transmitted infections or simply feeling less isolated and weird about your desires.
While not necessarily related to FOSTA-SESTA, queer and trans social media users have complained of identity terms being censored on platforms because of their proximity to porn, of all things. In 2017, Twitter came under fire for blocking the word “bisexual,” saying at the time that it had been added to a list of terms “typically associated with adult content.”
Earlier this year, TikTok users complained that terms like “intersex” and “lesbian” were shadowbanned; searches for the words didn’t bring up results, and lesbian users had launched the tongue-in-cheek “le$bean” hashtag after finding that content with the hashtag #lesbian was frequently removed. Both platforms either apologized or said the issues were mistakes, but continuously evolving content moderation policies seem to target the LGBTQ community on a regular basis: In 2019, the feminist magazine “Salty” was banned from advertising its latest cover featuring several fully-clothed trans women of color — because the Instagram algorithm had mistakenly flagged it as an ad for an escort service.
Swift action from platforms to remedy such missteps is important, but don’t answer the question of why this keep happening — because it doesn’t appear to have stopped. This week, popular queer TikTok star @therealclaybaby posted an Instagram video complaining that he repeatedly gets locked out of his account for violating community guidelines about sexual activity.
The Texas-based creator is known for messy drag, irreverent rants and improvised raps, but the “adult nudity and sexual activity” he’s been flagged for don’t appear on the account. It’s unclear whether he’s being reported by homophobic viewers, or just flagged by an imperfect algorithm, but either way the creator’s income from sponsored posts was threatened. To say that it’s frustrating for queer and trans people to be automatically associated with pornography just by existing would be an understatement.
This kind of algorithmic bias has a similar effect to platforms that ban LGBTQ content under restrictive “adult” bans to comply with FOSTA-SESTA: both silence speech and prevent entire communities from being able to connect online. Few among us can say we’ve never had a post deleted, or had an entire account temporarily or permanently deactivated because we used a self-descriptive LGBTQ term (such as “dyke”) in a post or caption, or because something we posted was deemed inappropriate for some mysterious reason.
The great irony is that many of the content rules that silence LGBTQ expression online may have been put there to protect us from harassment, just as the rules that are de-sexualizing the internet claim to protect us from abuse. And as the anti-sex panic continues to sweep online spaces, it’s only natural for queer folks to expect that our very existence will continue to be conflated with porn by algorithms and whoever oversees the godlike task of creating keyword blocklists.
In GLAAD’s new Social Media Safety Index, the first report to measure online safety for LGBTQ people, algorithmic bias is just one small part of a report that largely monitors hate speech. But just as lawmakers need to do a better job at seeing the difference between sex trafficking and healthy, consensual human sexuality, platforms need to do better at distinguishing between hate speech and pride speech.
There’s no comparison between an underage girl being pimped out by a trafficker and a barista trying to make rent posting sexy videos on websites like OnlyFans. And there’s a vast gap between a young lesbian using the hashtag #dyke to connect with friends and vitriolic hate slurs used to terrorize and harass someone. Yes, training algorithms to find that difference is a challenge. But if it manages to police queer and trans users at current levels, surely it can also learn our language.