NEW YORK, NY– GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) today called on iHeartMedia CEO Robert Pittman to speak out against comments made earlier this week on its radio properties by Sean Hannity. The full contents of the letter sent by GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard are below.
September 19, 2014
CEO, iHeartMedia, Inc.
125 West 55th St., 4th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Pittman,
I am writing to bring to your attention an important matter generated by a comment Sean Hannity made on his radio show on Tuesday, September 16.
While discussing the Adrian Peterson case, Mr. Hannity said, “You guys want to tell parents what they can and cannot do. For example, is it going to become illegal if a parent teaches the politically correct view that being gay is not normal?”
History has taught us many brutal lessons, not the least of which is that when a group seeks to marginalize and dehumanize another, it refers to them as “not normal.” This type of language gives some the “permission” to engage in hostility, harassment and violence – behavior that continues to play out in schools and communities across the country each day, especially directed at LGBT youth. For children and youth, the need to belong is among the most basic building blocks of healthy development. The social and emotional development of youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or who are simply perceived as such, is at risk when we tolerate the denigration of LGBT people. [pullquote]This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is a human one—the fundamental question of whether or not we will accept all of our fellow human beings as “normal” regardless of our differences. I would guess that most of Mr. Hannity’s audience, not to mention the employees of his show’s sponsors, have a friend, co-worker or family member that he considers “not normal.”[/pullquote]
This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is a human one—the fundamental question of whether or not we will accept all of our fellow human beings as “normal” regardless of our differences. I would guess that most of Mr. Hannity’s audience, not to mention the employees of his show’s sponsors, have a friend, co-worker or family member that he considers “not normal.” I imagine that you do as well.
The relationship between privately held beliefs and how we treat one another in public is critical. Membership in a diverse and respectful society requires us to judge others by their character and actions, not simply by how different they may seem from us. What’s great about America is our wide range of differences, the very quality that iHeartMedia accepts and embraces as the core of your business model.
At GLSEN, our mission is to create safe school environments for all students so that they are valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. All students deserve a safe and affirming school environment where they can learn and grow. There is nothing more important than keeping our children safe from harm, be it physical or emotional.
It is noteworthy that Mr. Hannity’s comments were made when discussing recent controversies in the National Football League. The leadership of the NFL rightly is being questioned for its failure to speak and act decisively when members of its community have done wrong. Mr. Hannity’s description of members of the LGBT community as “not normal” is both wrong and dangerous, and I hope you will speak publicly to address this matter and act decisively in assuring that no one – including many of your customers—should be made to feel as if they are “less than” anyone else.
Very truly yours,
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
[From a News Release]