Is the Equality Act a dangerous threat to our nation? Fact Checking Franklin Graham’s statements

(image source:

With the passage of the Equality Act by the US House of Representatives on February 24, Franklin Graham, a prominent American religious figure, published an urgent missive and call to prayer about the Equality Act on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, titled “The Equality Act is a dangerous threat to our nation”. This article is full of grand and alarming claims about the Equality Act, and these are worth taking a closer look at.

The Equality Act, for the most part, adds only a few words to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In numerous places, where discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin are banned, the words “(including sexual orientation and gender identity)” are added after the word “sex”. The list of places where discrimination is banned has been expanded. It is important to note, however, that churches are generally not considered public accommodations and the term “church” is not mentioned anywhere in the Equality Act.

(image source:, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, a firm supporter of Donald Trump)

The Equality Act will legislate that we allow boys in girls’ sports, boys in girls’ locker rooms, men in women’s shelters, and men in women’s prisons.

-Franklin Graham

This argument relies on a definition of sex and gender that science has firmly rejected. I would encourage you to read my article on the subject HERE if you have not already. When Franklin Graham and other conservatives try to scare you by talking about boys in girls bathrooms and locker rooms, here is what they want you to picture:

Gary Steiner (Clark County Sheriff’s Office)

That’s a photo of a sexual predator that popped up on a google search, by the way. The transgendered or transsexual women that want to use the women’s bathroom or locker room (who Franklin Graham considers to be “boys”) look like this:

Bailey Reeves

and this

Brooklyn DeShuna Smith

and this

Sharon Franklin Brown

These are the people that Franklin Graham and many other conservatives want to force to use men’s restrooms because, despite their appearance and sexuality and gender-identity, Graham still considers them to be men. This. Is. Discrimination. And it is dangerous to them. We need to create laws like this to protect these people. Forcing them into men’s bathrooms and locker rooms opens them to abuse and assault, putting them in very real danger. In fact, the first two transsexual women pictured above were murdered in hate crimes.

And just for fun, let’s take a look at a few pictures of transsexual men, who Franklin Graham would demand to use the women’s restroom and undress in women’s locker rooms:

Dani Farrell
Aydian Dowling
Tori Vancil
Ajay Holbrook

Let’s be clear. Forcing these men- because that’s what they are, even if they were born female- into a girl’s locker room or a girl’s bathroom is discriminatory against them since the other women are frankly likely to feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable around them in those settings and vice versa.

Franklin Graham and others want you to imagine skeevy weirdo creeps slinking their way into women’s restrooms to assault them, but the fact of the matter is that it is discriminatory to force transgendered women into men’s bathrooms and transgendered men into women’s bathrooms. It’s a stupid argument and one that might as well disappear.

It will force teachers and students to publicly pretend that a biological male is a female.

-Franklin Graham

No, it will not. That’s frankly ridiculous. Schools may be required to teach the science we know regarding sex and intersex conditions at the appropriate age. It may also force teachers to explain gender and its variability. If teachers had been forced to explain the difference between sex and gender in years past, people like Franklin Graham might not be so confused and upset by this law.

Schools will be encouraged or mandated to instruct first, second, and third graders that they can choose to be a boy or a girl, or neither, or both, making biological sex (and science) a relic of the past.

-Franklin Graham

Graham’s arguments are growing ever more absurd. While discrimination within schools is banned by the Equality Act, there is absolutely nothing therein about what is to be taught in schools. Nothing at all. There’s simply nothing more to say about this: this is just nonsense and a lie. You can read the act for yourself- it’s not long. There’s nothing like this in it.

The Equality Act designates schools, churches, and healthcare organizations as “public accommodations.” With this, schools, churches, and hospitals could be forced to accept the government’s beliefs and mandates about sexual orientation and gender identity. That would be highly intrusive and incredibly far-reaching.

-Franklin Graham

Schools and healthcare organizations have always been considered public accommodations. That’s why schools were forced to admit black children in the 1960s. Churches have never been included in that list, though, and the Equality Act, in its long list of examples of public accommodations, specifically does not include churches. So this is false.

The Equality Act will use the force of law across all 50 states to strip Christian and other religious ministries of their right to hire people of shared faith to pursue a shared mission. Can you imagine a Christian organization being forced to hire people hostile to its deeply held beliefs who have no passion for its beliefs, teachings, and mission? That doesn’t work.

-Franklin Graham

Franklin is right with his last statement: that doesn’t work. It would be stupid and horrible if this were true. Could you imagine a Baptist church being required to hire a gay pastor? A Catholic church required to hire women priests? A Jewish synagogue required to hire a Muslim teacher? It would destroy those churches! This is why this act does not apply to them. As mentioned above, churches are specifically not included in this legislation.

Moreover, in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Section 703, Subsection E there is a very very lengthy paragraph that basically says it is legal to discriminate for any reason if that discrimination is required for the operation of that business. This has always covered churches and continues to. In fact, the Equality Act specifically adds the words “sex (sexual orientation and gender identity)” to this passage, allowing religious organizations to continue to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity if it is part of their doctrine.

So the simple fact is: no, the Equality Act certainly does not force ministries to hire anyone against their own doctrine. This argument is 100% false. It is a lie. Legislators specifically wrote into the law that the law does not do this.

The Equality Act will be a tool used by the government to deny or threaten accreditation to religious colleges and universities if they do not satisfy the demands of the secular Left to apply sexual orientation and gender identity to dorms, sports, places of privacy, and even teachings. The Act could be used as a weapon to threaten the availability of federal student loans and grants to students at certain disfavored religious schools.

-Franklin Graham

Section 703 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 contains a long list of exceptions for hiring at religious schools and there is absolutely nothing in the Equality Act or any other law requiring them to teach anything against their own doctrines. So some of this is simply a lie, but it is true that these religious schools may not be allowed to discriminate against transgendered people using their bathrooms and locker rooms. It seems a very strange battle to fight to the death over, forcing students that you have already accepted to your school who look like men and act like men and may even have the genitalia of men to use a women’s bathroom simply because they were identified as a woman at birth. And it’s worth pointing out that there is absolutely nothing in this act outlining the consequences listed above. They seem to have come purely from Franklin Graham’s imagination.

The Equality Act will strip health professionals of their rights of conscience. It will force doctors and medical professionals who long to do no harm to engage in gender transition treatments such as hormone-blocking, cross-sex hormones, or surgery. It is obvious that a Catholic or faith-based hospital should not have to perform gender transition surgeries that go entirely against all they believe.

-Franklin Graham

Graham has a wild imagination. It is illegal for doctors to discriminate based on religion, race or sex. A heart surgeon can’t announce that he will only operate on men, not women. A neurosurgeon cannot refuse to operate on Muslims. A gynecologist cannot announce that they will not deliver babies for a Chinese mother. The 1964 Civil Rights Act banned these kinds of behavior and the Equality Act simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list. An oncologist can’t refuse cancer treatment to a person just because they’re gay. A doctor can’t refuse to see a patient simply because they are transgendered.

Is it true, though, that religious doctors and religious hospitals will be required to offer services, treatments and surgeries that violate their moral code? No, not at all! For decades, it has been illegal to discriminate against women. At the same time, abortion has been legal for almost 50 years. However, at no point have religious hospitals ever been required to perform abortions against their religious views! That’s because, while a hospital cannot discriminate against particular patients, it always has the option to choose what procedures its doctors will and will not perform. A Catholic hospital does not need to perform abortions, a cancer center is not required to perform appendectomies, a senior care facility is not required to deliver babies. Claiming otherwise is simply stupid. Medical facilities have always had the right to choose which procedures and surgeries they conduct. They’re simply required to conduct those procedures and surgeries without discriminating against anyone based on race, sex, etc…

And even though it might seem obvious from what I’ve written, I’ll state it: there is absolutely nothing in the act mandating medical procedures as described above. This is, again, purely from the imagination of Graham.

It will threaten everyday speech where people can be fined or lose their jobs for using the wrong name or pronouns.

-Franklin Graham

Ok, here is a place where Franklin Graham is absolutely right. For intersex, transgendered and homosexual people, bullying and hate speech is, indeed, everyday speech. It’s tragic.

No one is claiming that if you see someone and refer to him as her and get it wrong, that you’ll be fined or lose your job. If you’re an asshole about it, though, you might face consequences. Let’s give an example:

You work with a woman sitting next to you who is very big and strong. You joke that she looks like a man and you call her Bob. She’s very upset and asks you to stop doing it, but every day you see her, you call her “fella,” refer to her as “him” and keep calling her “Bob.” She’s clearly upset and constantly asking you to stop, but still, you continue. Eventually, she can report your bullying and you could lose your job for being a jerk and hurting her every day.

You’re a man going to work every day and your boss is awful to you. He says you’re puny and weak, says you look like an ugly version of his daughter and he takes to calling you “Nancy.” Every day he calls you Nancy, insists that you ought to use the women’s restroom, refers to you in conversation as “she” and “her” and simply keeps that up day after day, week after week despite you asking him to stop. Eventually, you may approach a supervisor and report the behavior and your boss may end up out of work for it.

These are the kinds of things transsexual and transgendered people go through every single day of their lives, except that it’s legal and Franklin Graham is insisting that he wants to keep it legal.

For those who have a hard time understanding what it means to be decent and respectful, allow me to explain: if a person tells you that they are a man, treat them like a man! Even if he doesn’t look very manly, who cares? Treat them like a man. If someone tells you they’re a woman, treat them like a woman. If they look kind of boyish, that doesn’t give you the right to be a dick about it; treat them like a woman!

It’s not rocket science and it’s really not difficult. At all. It’s the easiest thing in the world, really. But if bullying is a part of your everyday speech, as it apparently is for Franklin Graham, then you might end up having a problem. But I hope that’s not the kind of person you are.


Geologist, a lover of all science, father of a young child, published writer on Forbes and Mental Floss

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