GLAAD releases empowering media resource ahead of Pope's inaugural U.S. visit

Today, in preparation for Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the United States, GLAAD released "The Papal Visit: A journalist's guide to reporting on Pope Francis and the LGBT community," a resource guide for journalists designed to help bring a spotlight to the contributions and challenges of LGBT Catholics in the U.S. and the Americas. The guide was released in both English and Spanish.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, approximately 60% of Catholics in the United States of diverse backgrounds support marriage equality. Despite this majority, the media and Church hierarchy often misrepresent the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics by focusing on anti-LGBT pundits, bishops, and activists.

The release of this resource comes on the heels of a letter published in the New York Times, signed by the executive leaders of  GLAAD and DignityUSA, and endorsed by 28 other groups and individuals, urging Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics while in the U.S.

Of the relationship between LGBT people of faith and media, GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis said:

In a world where the lives of LGBT Catholics and their allies are often misrepresented by the Church hierarchy and the media, this guide empowers journalists to report in a more inclusive and accurate way. While talking heads reinforce the ‘God vs. gay narrative,’ the reality is that many LGBT people are also individuals of deep faith and that millions of people of faith support their LGBT friends and family.

Among the resources included in the guide arre a timeline outlining some of the Pope's most prominent actions and statements about the LGBT community, as well as best practices, pitfalls, and terms to avoid when covering LGBT Catholics. In addition, the guide highlights LGBT-supportive Catholics, LGBT Catholic organizations, story ideas focusing on both LGBT acceptance and opposition among Catholics, and more.

Read the full guidebook here.

2012's Missing Voices, a study of religious voices in mainstream media, found that the media overwhelmingly quotes or interviews Christians with negative messages towards the LGBT community and that three out of four religious messages came from people whose religions have formal polices opposing LGBT equality. One of the guide's aims is to point media in the direction of people of faith who are affirming of the LGBT community or  LGBT themselves.

"Supporting and accepting your LGBT friends, family, and neighbors - or being LGBT yourself - is not inconsistent with also being a person of faith, and it's time for the media to stop perpetuating that false dichotomy," said GLAAD's Vice President of Programs Zeke Stokes.

The guide will be distributed to media prior to the Pope's visit and will be a part of GLAAD's presence during the World Meeting of Families and the Papal visit in Philadelphia in September. GLAAD will be engaging with reporters in Philadelphia, providing them with resources and connecting them to LGBT organizations and individuals who will also be present.

GLAAD's efforts during the Pope's visit builds on the organization's longstanding commitment to elevating the experiences of LGBT people of faith, as well as LGBT-affirming voices of faith in mainstream media.