Tony Dungy is at it again. No one should be surprised.
The last time someone around the NFL did something this damaging to the LGBT community was when Dungy himself said he wouldn’t want Michael Sam on his team, months after he said he doesn’t agree with Jason Collins’ “lifestyle.”
And here we are over eight years later, again talking about the damaging effects of Dungy on my community.
This time the Hall of Famer and NBC analyst has said something so absurdly false it’s hard to believe any reasonable person could even stay silent about it.
Yet here we are.
On Wednesday, Dungy tweeted a much-debunked claim that some students are so confused by the LGBT community they think they are cats — yes you read that right — even demanding litter boxes in schools.
Yes, Dungy actually claimed this publicly, mocking LGBT students for their “very important” “needs” and leaving the tweet up for hours before ultimately deleting it after — I can only guess — some handler got to him.
I don’t think there’s even an emoji for that one.
That anyone was able to get through to Dungy, or maybe NBC, about his anti-LGBT rhetoric and convince him to delete the absurd, false tweet is a feat unto itself.
For almost two decades he has been utterly defiant about his homophobia and transphobia, wearing it at times as a seeming badge of honor as he defends his beliefs, claiming homosexuality is simply a “lifestyle” we all apparently woke up one day and chose.
Yet this claim by Dungy — the LGBT community has so confused some kids that they think they’re cats — goes beyond any of Dungy’s previous absurd claims.
Already probably the most publicly anti-LGBT person in NFL history, Dungy’s hiding behind his Christianity and the Bible don’t explain away this claim. There’s nothing in the New Testament about gay or transgender people deceiving children into thinking they’re animals (though I’m sure his anti-gay zealot friend Andrew Wommack can summon something from the Book of Corinthians to prove it).
As I wrote last week, beyond Dungy’s years-long campaign against the LGBT community stands NBC’s silence about it. The Peacock Network is a crossroads on this one. Again, this isn’t about Dungy quoting the Bible or expressing his “religious beliefs.” This is simply absurd, cruel, over-the-top anti-LGBT rhetoric that has been disproven by NBC News itself.
This was not, it seems, simply a “mistake” by Dungy. This is part of a decades-long series of attacks on my community, my friends, my teammates and my loved ones that NBC has for years tolerated.
While various members of my community have demanded he lose his job over his public statements, I have long resisted that urge. That resistance, after this episode, is fading fast.
Again, there is no basis in the Bible — long Dungy’s shield — for this completely absurd, debunked tweet. It was pure cruelty. It was false. I can’t say that Dungy deserves to lose his job over this, but there has to be some repercussion from NBC.
This was not some “deeply held religious belief.” This was simply nasty and irresponsible.
Silence on NBC’s part is not an option.
GLAAD, the LGBT media-focused nonprofit, has also called out Dungy’s spreading of the false story, as well as NBC for their silence, with a GLAAD spokesperson sharing this statement with Outsports:
NBC’s public silence on this is additionally inexplicable, and unacceptable. Dungy’s words and associations with anti-LGBTQ politicians and activists are harmful to LGBTQ people everywhere, including those employed by NBC, and those who work with Dungy and do not have his power, wealth or privilege. We expect NBC to speak up and act, both internally and publicly, in support of all LGBTQ people and youth, and work to ensure that everyone who uses an NBC microphone will act and speak responsibly, truthfully and with great care and compassion for all who are listening and watching.
I’ve made mistakes in my past. I’ve owned them, whenever possible. No one is perfect.
And Dungy’s rhetoric on this topic points to a continued campaign — based in part on his personal version of Christianity — that aims to demean and discredit our very existence as LGBT people.
There is no more hiding behind Matthew, Mark, Luke or John on this one. It’s time Dungy, NBC and NBC Sports engage on this topic in thoughtful, meaningful ways.
We’ll be waiting.