Let’s play a headline-writing game, inspired by the fact that one of the world’s most important newsrooms — BBC — wrote a blunt headline about You. Know. What.
Yes, this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to tune that in) takes another look at the great scandal of the week — that the wife of Vice President Mike Pence returned to her old job teaching at an evangelical Protestant school. This is the kind of small-o orthodox school that has a doctrinal code for teachers, staffers, parents and students that defends ancient Christian teachings that sex outside of marriage is a sin. We’re talking premarital sex, adultery (Hello Donald Trump), cohabitation, sexual harassment, same-sex behavior (not orientation), the whole works.
Thus, the BBC headline: “Vice-president's wife Karen Pence to teach at anti-LGBT school.”
Now, that BBC report didn’t make the common error of saying that this policy “bans” gay students, parents, teachers, etc. There are, after all, gays and lesbians, as well as people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria, who accept traditional Christian teachings on these subjects. There are some careful wordings here:
Second Lady Karen Pence, the wife of the US vice-president, will return to teaching art at a school that requires employees to oppose LGBT lifestyles.
The school in Springfield, Virginia, bars teachers from engaging in or condoning "homosexual or lesbian sexual activity" and "transgender identity". …
"I understand that the term 'marriage' has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman," the document states.
My question is this: For the journalists that wrote this headline, what does “anti-LGBT” mean?
If that term is accurate in this case, would it have been accurate for BBC to have used this headline: “Vice-president's wife to teach at anti-LGBT school for Christian bigots”? Is the judgment the same?
Now that I think about it, in many news reports it certainly appeared that editors assumed that banning homosexual behavior is the same thing as banning LGBT people. If that is accurate, then why not write a headline that says, “Vice-president's wife to teach at school that bans gays”?
Then again, looking at the content of the school policies, journalists could have used this headline: “Vice-president's wife to teach at school that defends Christian orthodoxy.” OK, but that doesn’t get the sex angle in there. So, let’s try this: “Vice-president's wife to teach at school that opposes sex outside of marriage.” That’s accurate. Right?