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Facebook let anti-LGBTQ ads run rampant in days leading to Senate’s Equality Act debate

todayMarch 18, 2021

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“In June, Facebook announced it would update its hate speech policies, including for its paid political ads,” Brianna January reported for Media Matters. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed in a statement on Facebook that the new hate speech policies would cover gender identity and sexual orientation as part of ‘prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads.’” 

Yet Media Matters found at least eight ads in recent weeks that promulgated the lie and often-repeated trope that transgender people are dangerous and predatory. The report said that while nearly all are now inactive, one by a Christian fundamentalist organization was still up as of the article’s March 17 publishing date.

”The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ran two versions of an ad linking to a post on its website which claims, ‘The Equality Act will legislate that we allow boys in girls’ sports, boys in girls’ locker rooms, men in women’s shelters, and men in women’s prisons,’” Media Matters said. Billy Graham was a fervent supporter of debunked, harmful “ex-gay” therapy. Meanwhile, his son, Franklin Graham, remained opposed to marriage equality while hero-worshipping a thrice-married adulterer.

Media Matters said a second ad also remained active as of the publishing date. That one was from anti-abortion extremist Live Action, which claimed the Equality Act was “an aggressive assault on human rights.” Media Matters said the group also promoted anti-transgender tropes, claiming the bill “could end female-only spaces, like female-only bathrooms, female-only locker rooms, female-only treatment centers, and female-only sports.”

NBC News reported in 2019 that one study found that transgender and gender-nonbinary youth were more likely to experience assault and harassment under anti-transgender policy. “In continuing to run political ads against the Equality Act that seemingly violate its policies, Facebook is privileging right-wing and anti-LGBTQ groups while profiting from anti-trans misinformation and bigotry,” Media Matters said. 

During this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Stella Keating testified what the legislation would mean to her as a transgender person. Daily Kos’ Marissa Higgins wrote that the 16-year-old teen “shared that she currently lives in a state with equal protections.”

“What happens if I want to attend a college in a state that doesn’t protect me?” Keating asked. “Right now, I could be denied medical care or be evicted simply for being transgender in many states. How is that even right? How is that even American? What if I’m offered a dream job in a state where I can be discriminated against? Even if my employer is supportive, I have to live somewhere.”

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