GLAAD’s Southern Stories: A Guide for Reporting on LGBTQ People in Florida has been criticized for factual errors and lacking information.
Rand Hoch, a former judge and the president and founder of Palm Beach County Human Rights Council [PBCHRC], criticized GLAAD, an LGBT media watchdog organization, and laid out his criticisms in an email to the organization. He also spoke with SFGN. He called on the publication to be pulled until it can be corrected.
In an email to GLAAD, Hoch stated that since GLAAD’s purpose was to ensure accurate and fair representation of the LGBT community “The Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council requests that your organization stop distributing the Southern Stories: A Guide for Reporting on LGBTQ People in Florida until such time as you can provide accurate information.”
He went on to say that “PBCHRC is dismayed that GLAAD did so little research about the work done by LGBTQ organizations and individual activists in Florida” before publishing Southern Stories. “It is obvious that GLAAD relied solely on information provided by the report's co-author, Nadine Smith of Equality Florida. Relying on Equality Florida to provide an accurate LGBTQ history of Florida – especially when it comes to Palm Beach County – is like relying on Donald Trump for an accurate history of, well, anything.”
Hoch’s specific criticisms included the wrong date for the foundation of SAVE [GLAAD stated it was founded in 1973, but the real date is 1993]. “They didn't even list PBCHRC on the organizations page!” wrote Hoch. Pride Center at Equality Park and SunServe, both located in Broward County, are also missing from the list of LGBT organizations. No Broward-based LGBT organizations were listed in the guide.
“PBCHRC is also concerned that your statement that ‘By 2010, a steady roster of municipalities had begun adding LGBTQ protection’ is both inaccurate and misleading. We also feel that your timeline is woefully inadequate. There was a lot of activity on LGBTQ initiatives – especially in Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties – long before Equality Florida began their marketing and media-grabbing campaigns.”
Hoch added that his organization has been generally pleased with GLAAD in the past. “But, in light of this publication, how can we ever rely on GLAAD in the future?”
In an email response to Hoch’s criticisms, and a question about why no Broward LGBT organizations were listed, Smith wrote, “Equality Florida is proud to partner with GLAAD in creating an English- and Spanish-language guide to encourage media coverage of LGBTQ issues. The guide also assists news agencies in using the correct terminology and encourages them to speak directly to communities that are underrepresented in news coverage. I encourage organizations to share this important tool and provide additional information that can help encourage diverse and responsible coverage of LGBTQ issues.”
In an email response to Hoch, Zeke Stokes, GLAAD’s vice president of programs, thanked him for reaching out.
“We very much appreciate your keen eye and will make the correction you spotted to the founding year of SAVE DADE. A new version reflecting that correction will be posted to GLAAD’s site in the coming days. If there are other factual errors, we are happy to correct those as well. We spent a great deal of time researching and fact-checking this document, but of course, we sometimes make mistakes and always welcome corrections.”
He added that the timeline wasn’t meant to give an entire account of LGBT history in Florida, but a brief overview. “We recognize that there was much, much more we could have included, thus the disclaimer in the guide on page 6: ‘The timeline on these pages accounts for some of the important milestones in Florida's LGBTQ history. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to provide a context in which LGBTQ people in the state find themselves living at this critical juncture in the movement for equality and acceptance.’”
Hoch responded that he understood the purpose of the timeline’s brevity and suggested there were still some important firsts missing: the 1990 protection by Palm Beach County of LGBT workers employed by the county, West Palm Beach becoming the first public employer in Florida to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1991, and West Palm Beach becoming the first public employer in Florida to offer domestic partnership benefits.
GLAAD did not respond to multiple media requests.