The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) completed its fifth annual Network Responsibility Index -- a report that grades broadcast and cable networks for the quantity and quality of homosexual characters and issues included in their programming.
ABC Family was given an excellent rating because more than half of its programming included gay characters or discussions about homosexuality. ABC Family had the highest percentage of hours -- 55 percent -- that included gays or references to them. In a year, the network's homosexual content rose 18 percent.
The only other channel to receive an "excellent" rating in the report's history was MTV (2010). GLAAD evaluated five broadcast and 10 cable networks in this year's report.
"Programs like Pretty Little Liars and Greek have woven gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters into their stories in a way that mirrors the diversity of our community and the experiences of younger generations," said Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD. "Viewers expect to see television environments that accurately reflect what it's like to be a young adult, and today that includes young adults who happen to be gay."
GLAAD evaluated networks and scored them as excellent, good, adequate or failing. Broadcast networks that received a "good" score were The CW (with 33 percent of its hours depicting gay themes or characters), Fox (29) and ABC (23 percent). Among the leading cable networks were Showtime (37), TNT (33), HBO (31), AMC (29) and Syfy (22).
"GLAAD has seen time and again how images of multidimensional gay and transgender people on television have the power to change public opinions," GLAAD said in its report
Dwayne Hastings, a vice president at the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, agreed that TV has shaped the culture, but not for the better. Hastings said parents should instill strong morals and stand on biblical truth, which condemns homosexuality.
"For families who seek to follow Christ and earnestly live out their faith, there is nothing happy in this report," Hastings said. "Those who push for so-called homosexual rights and lobby for same-sex interests ... have a powerful ally with deep pockets in the entertainment industry who are more than willing to use their media to recast the homosexual lifestyle as normative."
He added, "Unfortunately, many Americans are willing to allow Hollywood to manipulate their perspective on the world."
Broadcast programs with regular gay characters and plot lines included The CW's "America's Next Top Model" and "90210" and ABC's "Ugly Betty," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Modern Family." Fox even airs an animated show, "American Dad," that has gay themes in addition to its hit show "Glee," which has five regular gay characters.
Networks GLAAD graded "adequate" included CBS (10), NBC (15), FX (19) and USA (18). Only two networks failed GLAAD's standards: A&E (5) and TBS (5).
Said Hastings, "The reality is that if we were to publish the same kind of report that GLAAD has produced but instead focus on the presence of evangelical Christians on television, it would be a very short report. But few are concerned about the lack of accurate, portrayal of Bible-believing characters on television or in the movies.
"Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a well-financed and detailed plan at work to change Americans' opinions on those who practice homosexual and lesbian lifestyles. Given reports like this one, we can tell it is a very effective plan."
Whitney Jones is a student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and an intern with Baptist Press.
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