The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) on Nov. 7 released its annual “Where We Are on TV” report, which tracks the LGBTQ characters on cable networks and streaming services.
In this year’s report, Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, called on the television industry to increase its representation of LGBTQ characters to 20% by 2025. The organization calculated that currently 10.2% of series regulars on broadcast networks are LGBTQ characters.
“The role of television in changing hearts and minds has never been more important,” Ellis said. “ … less than one-quarter of Americans have a close friend or family member who is transgender—and so the overwhelming majority of Americans learn about trans people from what they see in television, movies and news.”
The report cites an online survey from 2017 conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of GLAAD. According to GLAAD, the survey of 2,037 adults revealed that 20% of Americans ages 18-34 identify as LGBTQ, while approximately 12% of the overall respondents identify as LGBTQ.
Yet a 2017 Gallup survey of 340,000 people showed that only 4.5% of the U.S. population self-identify as LGBTQ, which is much closer historically to polling on these questions.
If GLAAD succeeds in its push for 20% of television regulars to be LGBTQ characters, LGBTQ television characters would overrepresent the actual LGBTQ population by 40%, according to the organization’s own data. And using Gallup’s data, LGBTQ characters on TV would outweigh the actual LGBTQ population by 77.5%, amounting to absurd overrepresentation.
After the release of GLAAD’s 2018 “Where We Are on TV” report, Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, expressed concern over GLAAD’s plans to further influence the American public.
“What people watch on television affects their moral judgment,” he said on his podcast, “The Briefing.” “If you can change the stories that are told and you can change the casting of those stories with specific characters, you can change the moral views of the population.”
Mohler, who has been negatively profiled under GLAAD’s Commentary Accountability Project, along with fellow conservative Christians Tony Perkins, Michael Brown and Franklin Graham, explained that “the cultural products we consume, the stories that we’ve used, the movies that we see, the music to which we listen, all of these affect our moral intuitions at a level that might not be reached by overt cognitive argument.”