By Liz Welch, Fair is Fair Montana
You never know what a new morning will bring: A hot cup of coffee, an amusing article in the newspaper, homophobic comments about being gay being akin to pedophilia, bestiality and incestuous behavior… Wait, what??
Last week, Billings radio personalities “The Breakfast Flakes,” on KCTR, read an article on air regarding a transgender woman who fought for – and won – the right to marry her boyfriend. They went on to compare that to bestiality.
One of their listeners was a young girl who heard the hurtful comments while riding the bus to school in her small, conservative town. Her parent, Sierra, is transgender, and has been married to a beautiful, amazing woman for many years who is standing with her as she transitions. A courageous teen who identifies herself as a lesbian, Rain wrote a letter to the station addressing her concerns about what they said. The DJs read it on air and then proceeded to call her mothers disgusting, likening them to incestuous siblings and people engaged in bestiality.
That’s their First Amendment right to free speech. The best way to address such free speech is to speak out against it. Simply put, their depiction of transgender people is wrong and it’s hurtful. It’s a shame these DJs refuse to educate themselves about the full complexity of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. They had an opportunity to provide insight, but they squandered that chance to boil transgener issues down to the punchline of an offensive on-air joke.
One person commented on the DJs’ Facebook page: “The First Amendment means that the government cannot exercise prior restraint – that is, to prevent you from speaking. It does not relieve anyone from responsibility for what they have said. If you are old enough to wear big boy pants, you are old enough to make intelligent decisions about the words you say and the actions you take. The First Amendment is not a “base” you can simply run to and touch for safety after you “tag” someone. And provoking others to bullying and belittling behavior is not a child’s game.”
It’s important that we not let these DJs’ comments reflect our entire community’s beliefs about our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex citizens.
Sign our statement of support- which we will present to the station manager of Townsquare Media. Participate in our public education campaign in Billings by volunteering to have one on one conversations with others about what fairness looks like in our town.