While the Tribune Gives a Platform to the Montana Family Foundation, the Gazette Defends Transgender Students


A few days ago, the Montana Family Foundation issued yet another of their push polls promoting a retrograde social agenda promoting discrimination, this time about the Obama Administration’s new guidelines about transgender students.

The poll is likely as accurate as any of those put out by the group, given its reliance on leading, inaccurate questions designed to scare respondents into fearing transgender students and questionable, opaque methodology.

Imagine my surprise, though, when I read a news pieces that was little more than a press release summarizing the poll in the Great Falls Tribune today.

The story didn’t mention that the Montana Family Foundation has settled with the Commissioner of Political Practices for its political advocacy violations, that it has led truly horrific attacks on transgender students, for that its leader, Jeff Laszloffy, who is cited in the story, has a pattern of abusing those who agree with his theocratic agenda. Also not mentioned in the story is the Montana Family Foundation’s funding from gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte, who has given funds to the group to fund their anti-human agenda.

All those omissions aside, though, I’m left to wonder why the Tribune would publish a push poll conducted by an advocacy group as if it were newsworthy, accurate, or verifiable. A paid advertisement might have been appropriate, but certainly not a news piece, especially one that misleadingly refers to the Obama Administration’s guidelines as an “edict” in the headline.

Credit, though, is due the Billings Gazette for its editorial today panning Attorney General Tim Fox for his decision to join the pandering, absurd lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s news guidelines, writing:

Public laws shouldn’t encourage discrimination. The Nebraska lawsuit, like its Texas predecessor, seeks court authority to discriminate. Meanwhile, schools have been discreetly and appropriately working to meet all students’ needs — gay, straight or trans — for respect and privacy….
This lawsuit is a detrimental answer in search of a problem. It’s a court filing based on ideology rather than facts in schools.

And that’s the crux of the issue: schools should not be in the business of discriminating against students for their gender expression or identity. States should not let the fears of transphobic bigots drive policy decisions about those students. The Gazette is absolutely right when it notes that Montana schools have not complained about serving transgender students, because teachers know that serving all of our students is a non-negotiable.

We’re lucky to have Denise Juneau and her staff at OPI for pushing back against the agenda from groups like the Montana Family Foundation and politicians willing to demonize school-age children to score points with conservatives.

As for the Tribune, perhaps they should give some thought to interviewing students who have faced discrimination, threats, abuse, and violence instead of simply giving a platform for hate groups to demagogue on the issue.

Our students deserve better, and so do readers hoping to become informed.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Kevin D CurtisJanet GoodellLK Recent comment authors
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Sad to see what’s happened to the Tribune. It is no longer a real newspaper. Now, it is simply a combination of The Police Gazette and the Stars and Stripes. All we get are daily military b*llshit stories, and fluff pieces on how great our “hero” cops are. It really is pathetic. And this Phil Drake character who wrote this makes their political coverage a joke. All the real reporters left long ago. Hard to believe that people still pay for this thing. But like me, I guess they read it only for the obits and sports.

Janet Goodell
Janet Goodell

Results of these surveys should not be reported as news without a description of methodology, questions asked in poll, and a few comments from those surveyed.

Kevin D Curtis
Kevin D Curtis

Jeff Laszloffy and the MFF has also sent a pledge to all our state legislators, he is asking them to sign it and “Pledge to Oppose Obama’s Transgender Schools Directive”. Included was the results of the MFF phony push poll. The MFF Pledge says “the federal government issued a Transgender Schools Directive requiring that students born male be allowed to use girls’ locker rooms, showers, and hotel rooms on overnight trips”….. One thing I know for certain is Jeff Laszloffy is in no way a Christian, he is only concerned with power, personal glory and forcing people to live as… Read more »

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