GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, is responding to Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s commencement ceremony speech at Benedictine College in Kansas last weekend.

Butker’s remarks included disparaging LGBTQ people, Pride, access to reproductive health care, and choices he believes women should make for their futures. Fact check on several erroneous claims, below.

GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis (she/her) issued the following statement:

“Traditionally, commencement speeches are meant to celebrate and inspire graduates and their families. Kansas City Chiefs player Harrison Butker’s commencement speech was not only a clear miss, it was inaccurate, ill-informed, and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women. Those with expansive platforms, especially athletes, should use their voices to uplift and expand understanding and acceptance in the world. Instead, Butker’s remarks undermine experiences not of his own and reveal him to be one who goes against his own team’s commitment to the Kansas City community, and the NFL’s standards for respect, inclusion, and diversity across the League.”


Butker criticized “dangerous gender ideologies” and described Pride, a celebration of the LGBTQ community created by the community to elevate issues of equality and resilience in the face of discrimination and violence, as “the deadly sins sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it.”

Fact: “Gender ideologies” is a term fabricated by anti-LGBTQ activists to deny the reality that transgender and other gender-diverse people exist.

Fact: There is no official federal recognition of Pride, Pride Month, or LGBTQ history. Pride commemorations, like LGBTQ acceptance overall, have expanded nationwide from the first community-organized events after the Stonewall riots 55 years ago this June. 

Fact: There is widespread support for sports leagues hosting Pride Nights and events focused on inclusivity. 47% of U.S. adults support Pride Nights. 

Butker baselessly claimed: “I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolic lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

Facts: Benedictine College noted 485 students graduated last Saturday. Three women were among the five valedictorians, and a fourth woman student was honored with a college leadership award. Benedictine’s Dean is Dr. Kimberly Shankman, who led the commencement exercises. It is not known how Butker knows what graduates are most excited about.

Butker reinforced toxic stereotypes about men, power and control: “As men, we set the tone of the culture, and when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in. This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation. Be unapologetic in your masculinity. Fight against the cultural emasculation of men. Do hard things. Never settle for what is easy.”

Fact: There is no evidence of so-called “cultural emasculation” or that the “absence of men” fuels violence. Research studies conducted before marriage equality was legalized nationwide in 2015 overwhelmingly show that the children of same-sex couples fare just as well as, if not better than and outperforming, the children of different-sex couples, particularly in educational settings. Those findings about the positive parenting outcomes of same-sex couples have been consistent in studies published as recently as last year.

Butker claimed the response to COVID was the result of “poor leadership and choices.”

Fact (not noted by Butker): Donald Trump was president at the inception of COVID, lied about COVID and downplayed the threat for months as hundreds of thousands of Americans died and got sick. 

Butker criticized President Joe Biden and blamed poor leadership for “negative life choices” like “abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values in media.”

Fact: Extremist legislators and Supreme Court justices have restricted access to deeply personal health care decisions that are supported by a majority of Americans across party lines and all faith backgrounds. Voters have chosen to expand access to abortion in every ballot measure proposed since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Butker inaccurately linked representation in media with negative life outcomes.

Fact: GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance Study shows record high support for LGBTQ visibility in media:

  • 75% of non-LGBTQ adults feel comfortable seeing LGBTQ people in advertisements.
  • 73% of non-LGBTQ adults report feeling comfortable seeing LGBTQ characters included in TV shows or movies.
  • 68% of non-LGBTQ adults feel comfortable seeing an LGBTQ family with children included in an advertisement.

Butker urged Catholics to speak up against the “tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Fact: Research shows DEI programs help companies and organizations recruit top talent, enhance innovation, and improve competitive position and brand perception. 

Butker’s generalizations about Catholics and urging of conservatism in the Church are at odds with Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, and most Catholics.

Facts: Pope Francis has taken more actions than any pope in history in support of LGBTQ people and to welcome LGBTQ people in the church. American Catholics have supported marriage for same-sex couples at consistently higher rates than the general population over the past two decades.

GLAAD polling of LGBTQ and registered voters show strong agreement with the statement: “Republicans should stop focusing on restricting women’s rights and banning medical care for transgender youth and instead focus on addressing inflation, job creation, and healthcare costs.” 94% of LGBTQ voters, 76% of registered voters, 76% of likely 2024 voters, and 82% of swing voters agree.