After GLAAD and community members and allies reached out, Cleveland's WMMS Radio has taken important steps to tell its audience that the comments made last week by radio host Dominic Dieter were grossly inappropriate, and to ensure that incidents like this do not happen again.
Last week, during an airing of "Rover's Morning Glory," a popular morning show that airs on Cleveland's 100.7 FM radio, Dieter told a father who said he saw his daughter kissing another girl: "You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight."
If this girl is in fact gay, if she's underage, or if she's simply not interested in having sex with one of her dad's friends, then what was suggested here was rape, plain and simple. While many might find it ridiculous to suggest that one could rape a young woman who is gay and turn her straight, this is not an uncommon occurrence in many parts of the world, and is in fact referred to as "corrective rape." It is horrifying that this occurs anywhere, and it is reprehensible that Dieter told this man's daughter that it should happen to her.
GLAAD reached out to station management asking for Dieter to be suspended for his remarks. Today we received word that disciplinary action has been taken (though management could not be specific as to what) and that a pre-recorded apology aired from Dieter this morning. According to a transcript sent by WMMS, Dieter told listeners:
"I just wanted to say that, I know on the show this past Friday I made some comments that people found….. considered to be offensive. And I just wanted to say, I understand why people are angry. I want to genuinely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by what I said. I regret what I did say. My comments were inappropriate. They were inexcusable, and just downright stupid. And I want to make it clear; there was absolutely no intention to promote physical or sexual violence. And I’m truly; truly sorry by my poor choice of words that led people to believe otherwise. Again, Rover… I just want to apologize for any pain I might have caused. (...) I ask people to find it in their hearts to forgive me. I am sorry for the words that I did say. "
In addition, WMMS has pledged to run public service announcements about the dangers of parental rejection, and the importance of giving LGBT young people a safe learning environment. Even if no parent would go to the vile extremes suggested by Dieter, the message he telegraphed to the audience was that this parent should not accept that his daughter might be gay or bi.
It is crucial that parents know that LGBT young people who are rejected by their parents are almost six times more likely to report high levels of depression, and more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide as LGBT young people who feel accepted by their parents.
Even if this father did not take Dieter's suggestion literally and instead merely followed the underlying suggestion that he not accept his daughter for who she is, he could be placing her in great danger.
WMMS has also invited LGBT advocacy group Equality Ohio to join its community advisory board, to help ensure that LGBT issues are covered accurately and inclusively, and that incidents like this do not happen again.
While the disciplinary action is important, it's more important that WMMS's audience understand why this issue needs to be taken so seriously. Over the last few years we've seen a national conversation take place about the bullying that young people are subjected to in our schools, especially youth who are (or are perceived to be) LGBT. But that conversation has only scratched the surface of the need for LGBT youth to feel welcome not just at their schools, but at their home as well.
LGBT young people make up somewhere between 5% and 10% of our youth population, but tragically they are anywhere from 20% to 40% of our nation's homeless youth - either because they are kicked out of their homes, or because they don't feel safe there and leave on their own. Parental rejection of LGBT young people is an incredibly serious issue, and we're pleased to see that WMMS's management is treating it like one.