PRI-distributed program provokes firestorm for its discussion of LGBT adoptions

Editor’s Note: This story was reviewed by an independent editor and not edited by the management of PRI or KCRW.

The host of To The Point ignited a storm of controversy Friday night after his show featured an episode discussing the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal at Penn State, juxtaposed against restrictions on adoptions by couples with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender members.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation condemned host Warren Olney’s comments and choice of guests in Friday’s episode of To The Point. To The Point is produced by KCRW in Los Angeles and distributed by Public Radio International, though PRI does not have any control over the content of the show. PRI is the owner of this website.

“The discussion, which included John Ireland, a gay father and the founder of the Raise a Child Campaign, was intended to discuss the need to expand the pool of qualified foster care and adoptive parents. Only, instead of speaking to the importance of making sure all children have a loving and permanent home, (Jerry Cox, president of the anti-gay Family Council) began viciously attacking gay parents,” GLAAD’s statement read. “The facts are entirely clear when it comes to the ability of gay and lesbian couples parenting and raising children…there is no reliable evidence that homosexual orientation per se impairs psychological functioning. Second, beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents have no empirical foundation.”

The latter part of that statement was quoting verbatim from the American Psychological Association Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Parents & Children. 

The DailyKos also spoke out against Olney’s program.

“This is not ok for public radio personalities to feature bigots who spew lies about LGBT people and unjustly equate the LGBT community to pedophiles,” they wrote.

DailyKos is, of course, referring to Cox and his Arkansas Family Council. 

GLAAD reached out to PRI and to KCRW Friday evening. GLAAD urged the program to take the episode off its website. As of Saturday, it remained posted. PRI did not post the segment to its website.

Olney issued an apology through GLAAD Friday night

“We had no intention of confusing the issues of child abuse and same-sex adoption. We apologize to anyone who drew that conclusion,” Olney’s statement said. “The mission of ‘To the Point’ is to conduct frank and timely discussions of controversial issues.”

To The Point also posted the statement on its Facebook page.

But the apology was ringing hollow with some on Saturday.

Gawker called it a “non-apology.” And on social media sites, listeners to the show raised similar issues.

“You seem to be missing the core of my issue with today’s program. By teeing up the conversation with a mention of sexual predation immediately followed by the question “Should gays and lesbians qualify” to adopt – you are conflating the two. I’m really surprised how you don’t see that,” said Buzz Chatman, in a post on To The Point’s Facebook page.

Jimmy Hill, who also posted on the Facebook page, said he could understand the desire to expose the hypocrisy of prohibiting LGBT individuals from adopting, but he was still upset with the program.

“I got the “Sandusky was a foster parent who was investigated for pedophilia” [sic], and “yet LGBT are prohibited” hypocrisy points, but this was poorly written, causing linkage instead of contrast,” he wrote.

Saturday morning, PRI also released its own statement about the matter.

“Once we heard the program yesterday, we began having discussions with the editorial staff of To the Point, and those discussions will continue. We are also speaking with GLAAD.” PRI’s statement said, in part. “Public Radio International is dedicated to bringing diverse voices together to share perspectives in our interconnected world.”

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