ABC does well, Fox not -- although Fox gets a bit of praise that highlights the real meaning of diversity. More after the jump ...
Here's the release from GLAAD on its new study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on network TV:
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today released its inaugural GLAAD Network Responsibility Index, a first-of-its-kind report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on network television. ABC, with shows like Brothers & Sisters and Ugly Betty, received the highest ranking of the five networks. NBC, once home to Will & Grace, ranked fourth, and FOX scored lowest.
"While we have made great strides in the ten years since Ellen DeGeneres came out on television," says GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano, "this report shows where work still needs to be done and which networks are failing to represent millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewers. The airwaves quite literally belong to each and every one of us, and, as such, networks have an obligation to reflect the faces and stories of their viewers."
GLAAD examined all primetime programming — 4,693 hours — on the five major networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, and NBC) from June 1, 2006 – May 31, 2007. Each hour was reviewed for any on-screen major or minor LGBT representations. Based on the overall quantity, quality and diversity of these representations, a grade was assigned to each network: Excellent, Good, Fair, or Failing.
ABC received a grade of Good and led the networks with 15 percent of its primetime programming hours inclusive of LGBT representations. The CW followed with a Fair; 12 percent of its programming hours were LGBT inclusive. CBS received a Fair for its 9 percent of LGBT-inclusive programming hours. NBC was given a Fair for its 7 percent. And FOX received a Failing grade for its 6 percent of LGBT-inclusive programming hours. No network received an Excellent ranking.
"We know that seeing multi-dimensional, diverse people represented on television changes public perception," says GLAAD Entertainment Media Director Damon Romine, editor of the report. "Millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans fight every day for equality and for the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and violence. True equality will be in our grasp when network television presents our stories in a fair, accurate and inclusive way."
Copies of the GLAAD Network Responsibility Index have been delivered to programming executives at the five networks, and GLAAD looks forward to further discussions with the networks on ways to improve their LGBT representation.
A PDF of the full report can be downloaded at GLAAD.org or by clicking here: http://www.glaad.org/2007/2007PDFS/GLAAD_NRI2007.pdf
Please Note: The 12th Annual GLAAD Where We Are On TV diversity report will be issued in early September. This analysis will examine LGBT inclusion as well as the gender and race/ethnicity of all scripted characters scheduled to appear during the upcoming season.
As for Fox's failing grade, the complete report includes this note about the network:
While FOX’s numbers were lowest, their impressions reflected a great deal of LGBT diversity. In fact, 46 of its 99 LGBT impressions included people of Middle Eastern-American descent (Kenny from The War at Home and Richard from The Winner both made several significant appearances). FOX also had 12 gay Latino impressions and one gay African American character throughout the year.
That's an important note, because it reminds people that diversity is a complicated issue -- that if all your gay characters are white, then you've embraced one kind of diversity but overlooked another. As the full report notes:
LGBT impressions on NBC and ABC overwhelmingly featured white representations (80% and 83%, respectively) in their drama, comedy and unscripted areas. NBC had 12 gay Latino and eight African American impressions, while ABC featured eight Latino, 19 African American, and 10 Asian Pacific Islander (API) impressions, the highest API representation of any network.