Fox Nation was the first-- and only-- mainstream news network to report
on the spurious story, stating "a male student at Florence High School who claims to be transgender has been harassing girls in the bathroom."
"When parents complained, school officials said the boy's rights as a transgender trumped their daughter's privacy rights," Fox Nation continued.
Elsewhere on Fox News, the O'Reilly Factor aired a report on the alleged harassment, with host Bill O'Reilly declaring that he predicted exactly this sort of thing would occur if transgender students were allowed to use restrooms which best matched their gender identity.
Besides displaying overt transphobia by referring to the student as a "boy," it appears as if Fox News aired and promoted a fabricated story ginned up by a transphobic Christian 'news' network.
Media Matters reports
the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) first 'broke'
the story last week after reading an unsubstantiated 'complaint'
from the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative group that claims to promote "religious freedom" but focuses almost entirely on promoting Christianity and opposing a variety of progressive causes, including LGBT rights. Fox News then republished the untruthful CBN post word-for-word on its Fox Nation website.
The British Daily Mail
, which is owned by the parent company of Fox News, also ran the made-up story
for a while before removing it from its website.
According to school superintendent Rhonda Vendetti, the story stems from a complaint lodged by a parent who disapproves of transgender students being able to use the restroom which best reflects their true gender identity, and not on any actual reported harassment. Vendetti told
"This is one parent basically bringing their viewpoint about this situation to the media because they weren't getting the responses that they hoped they would get from the district, from parents of students at the high school, or from the board and myself... To our knowledge and based on our investigation, none of those things (harassment) have actually happened. We do have a transgender student at the high school and she has been using the women's restroom. There has not been a situation."
Critics claim Fox News aired this fabricated story in service of what they say is the network's openly anti-transgender agenda. Fox detractors point to O'Reilly's "I-told-you-this-would-happen" remark, along with Fox's refusal to use the proper gender terminology when referring to transgender individuals, as proof of the network's hostility toward transgender people.
After California enacted landmark legislation granting the state's transgender public school students the right to use the restrooms that matched their gender identity, Fox News hosts, contributors and guests openly displayed their disdain
, with Fox and Friends hosts Clay Morris, Eric Bolling and Gretchen Carlson expressing confusion, and frequent Fox contributor and best-selling author Michelle Malkin dismissing the transgender struggle for equality as "pandering to political correctness."
Media Matters reported
that in a segment titled "You've Got To Be Kidding," Fox News host Greg Gutfeld mocked and trivialized "gender confused" students, recalling how "as a devious teen, I would tell girls that I'm a girl trapped in a boy's body, just so I could sneak into the girls' bathroom."
Martha McCallum, host of Fox's America's Newsroom
, also called transgender people "confused" and dismissed
anti-transgender bullying as "not a big problem," despite studies showing as many as 90 percent
of LGBT students have experienced some form of harassment, and nearly half having been physically assaulted.
Since enacting the new law, authorities in California say
there hasn't been a single reported incident in which a transgender student has harassed others while using school restrooms.
This is the second time this month that Fox News has been caught airing demonstrably false information. Speaking on Fox and Friends
earlier this month, host Anna Kooiman repeated a lie
about President Barack Obama that was originally published
on the satirical conservative site National Report with the headline "Obama Uses Own Money to Open Muslim Museum Amid Government Shutdown."
"President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the Museum of Muslim Culture," claimed Kooiman in an attempt to draw a stark contrast with the government shutdown, which Fox overwhelmingly blames on the president, and the resultant closure of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Kooiman has since apologized
for "receiving flawed research."