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KSL-TV EXECUTIVES MEET WITH LOCAL LGBT FAMILIES AND RELEASE JOINT STATEMENT WITH EQUALITY UTAH AND UTAH PRIDE CENTER

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Equality Utah, GLAAD, and Utah Pride Center to host screening of ‘The New Normal after KSL-TV refuses to air.

Valerie Larabee
Executive Director, Utah Pride Center
(801) 403-1038, valerie@utahpridecenter.org

Brandie Balken
Executive Director, Equality Utah
(801) 910-3679, brandie@equalityutah.org

Matt Kane
Associate Dir. of Entertainment Media, GLAAD
(323) 634-2013, kane@glaad.org

August 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA, August 31, 2012 – GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center announced plans  to host a panel discussion and screening of upcoming NBC series The New Normal for Utah residents following Salt Lake City, Utah NBC affiliate KSL-TV’s decision to not air the series. The New Normal follows a gay couple’s efforts to start a family with the help of a surrogate.

This announcement follows a recent meeting arranged by Utah advocacy organizations Equality Utah and Utah Pride between local LGBT families and executives of KSL and Bonneville International, to acknowledge the presence and contributions of all families, including LGBT families, in Utah and across the country. In a joint statement with the advocacy organizations, KSL said the following:

“We appreciated the opportunity to meet today. It was helpful to talk together, to better understand issues, and to be able to discuss the reasons behind our decision to not air ‘The New Normal.’ This was not a decision we made lightly and it was not made because of any single issue including gay characters or LGBT families. As a communications company we make decisions every day regarding our programming and we made a decision to not broadcast this program because we feel it had a number of issues including sexually explicit content, demeaning dialogue, and inciting stereotypes.

“We care about and value all members of our community, including LGBT people and their families, and are grateful when there can be the type of cordial and respectful dialogue we have had today.”  

The station has not changed its position on airing the episode.  The full contents of the joint statement can be read here.

“KSL-TV’s initial communications about refusing to air The New Normal, incited this community and many across the country who feel KSL was censoring the show because of its gay content.  The comments from KSL gave fodder to the popular perception that Utah is a regressive and intolerant place,” said Utah Pride Center’s Executive Director, Valerie Larabee. “LGBT Individuals and families here in Utah, a state that places high value on healthy families, deserve recognition and respect for their presence and contributions in this state and beyond.  Equally important is our desire to have young people to grow up knowing they can be proud of their parents and speak openly about them with other children and adults. After getting to know who we are, we believe Utahans will understand that we share the same values and that we are very much ‘normal.’”

“From the outset, it appeared clear that the presence of gay characters factored into KSL's decision. With gay families having long been part of some of television’s most well-known and popular series, KSL’s decision is out of touch with a vast majority of television viewers, advertisers and critics,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Refusing to air this series about gay families sends the wrong message to LGBT families and young people in Utah.”

"Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah work tirelessly to promote tolerance and grow acceptance of LGBT people and families in Utah," Graddick continued. "We are proud to be working with them to raise visibility of this screening and the LGBT families impacted by KSL's decision."

More than 15 years ago, a Birmingham, Alabama ABC affiliate refused to air “The Puppy Episode” of Ellen in which the main character came out as gay. GLAAD partnered with Birmingham Pride Alabama (BPA) to an audience of thousands of Ellen fans. 

Details about the screening and a panel discussion will be forthcoming.  The event will include a panel discussion between LGBT families and other community representatives.

Journalists interested in contacting KSL-TV leadership should try:

Mark Willes
President & CEO, KSL-TV
mwilles@ksl.com
(801) 575-5555

Jeff Simpson
Executive Vice President & COO

Bonneville International
jeff.simpson@ksl.com
(801) 575-5555

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About Utah Pride: The Utah Pride Center is state-wide nonprofit organization founded in 1992, whose mission is to provide support, education, outreach and advocacy for Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer individuals, and their allies, through programs, services, and resources. For more information visit www.utahpridecenter.org.

About Equality Utah:  Equality Utah is the state’s largest policy and advocacy organization working to secure equal rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns and their families. For more information visit www.equalityutah.org

About GLAAD: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.