Meteorologist addresses LGBTQ audience as 'things and its' at journalism conference

PALM SPRINGS, California — NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists issued an apology on Sunday after an emcee at its annual conference welcomed a crowd of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer news professionals as "ladies and gentlemen, things and its."

"We've worked hard for many years to make NLGJA an inclusive organization for transgender and nonbinary journalists," the organization said in a statement. "People were understandably hurt and offended by last night's remarks. As journalists, we understand uniquely that words matter. We apologize and are committed to working to make NLGJA more inclusive and diverse."

Marshall McPeek, chief meteorologist for Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned Fox 28 and ABC 6 in Columbus, Ohio, made the offending remarks on Saturday evening during the conference's closing reception, which was sponsored by Fox News. McPeek apologized later that same evening for his comments and resigned his NLGJA membership shortly thereafter.

News of the incident spread beyond the Palm Springs conference after reporter Mary Emily O'Hara, who was in the audience, captured the moment in a widely shared tweet.

McPeek's remarks cast a pall over the event and several attendees walked out. Monica Roberts, a transgender writer from Houston who was present during Saturday's closing reception, wrote about the incident Monday on her blog, TransGriot.

"While I am happy McPeek came back later and apologized and NLGJA an organization I've been a member of for several years has released a statement about it, the damage was still done," Roberts wrote. "No Mr. McPeek and by extension, NLGJA and FOX News, there were no 'things and its' in that Hotel Zoso room that September 8 night. There were trans, gender non-conforming (GNC) and non-binary (NB) people in there. There were your trans, GNC and NB media colleagues in that room."

17 PHOTOS
LGBTQ history makers
See Gallery
LGBTQ history makers

Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) - Civil rights activist and openly gay man. He served as an advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

(Photo by Patrick A. Burns/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

James Baldwin (1924 – 1987) - Civil rights activist and author from Harlem. He wrote his second novel in 1956 -- "Giovanni's Room." The work dealt explicitly with homosexuality and was published at a time when few other writers dared to publish gay-themed works, according to LGBT History Month

(Photo by Robert Elfstrom/Villon Films/Gety Images)

Alan Turing (1912-1954) - British mathematician whose work is widely acknowledged as the foundation of research in artificial intelligence.

(Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Moms Mabley (1894 – 1975) - Lesbian stand up comedian who starred in films and frequently headlined at the Apollo Theater. 

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) - A famous transgender woman and LGBT activist, Johnson was a veteran of the Stonewall Riot in New York City. She and Sylvia Rivera founded STAR: Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries in 1970 to push for trans rights and offer shelter for homeless transgender teens.

(REUTERS/Diana Davies-NYPL/Handout)

Josephine Baker (1906 – 1975) - Singer, dancer and actress who became very popular in France in the 20s. She was also a civil rights activist. Baker was bisexual -- she married and divorced several men, as well as carrying on affairs with women, including Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

(Photo by ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Harvey Milk (1930-1978) - First openly gay man to be elected to public office in California when he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

(Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images)

Alexis Arquette (1969 – 2016) - Transgender actress who transitioned to female in her 30s. She is known for her roles in films like “The Wedding Singer” and “Last Exit to Brooklyn.”

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Sally Ride (1951-2012) - America’s first woman in space waited until her death to tell the world that she was gay. The NASA astronaut’s obituary referred to “her partner of 27 years.” After Ride’s death, her sister wrote in an essay that she hopes “it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them.”

(Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Lesley Gore (1946 – 2015) - The famous American singer, most known for her hits “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me,” was openly gay.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Tennessee Williams (1912-1983) - Williams was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, who wrote some of Broadway's most successful shows -- including 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.' Several of his works were adapted into Oscar-winning films, starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor, among other famous actors at the time. 

Williams was in a relationship with his longtime partner, Frank Merlo, for 14 years until Merlo's death in 1963. 

Matthew Shepard (1976 – 1998) - Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming when he was killed in a horrific hate crime. At the time, hate crime laws did not extend to the LGBTQ community. His death sparked a nationwide debate and ultimately led to the passing of new legislation -- the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009)

(Photo credit ANDREW CUTRARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Audre Lorde (1934 – 1992) - She considered herself “a black feminist lesbian mother poet.” She was also a vocal civil rights activist and leader for the advancement of the LGBT community.

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Nancy Kulp (1921 – 1991) - Lesbian actress most known for her role as Miss Jane Hathaway in the popular ‘60s sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies."

(Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images)

Rock Hudson (1925 – 1985) - The legendary actor kept his sexuality a secret at the height of his Hollywood fame in the '60s. Hudson was diagnosed with AIDS in July 1985 and revealed he was gay in a press release just months before he died in October of the same year. 

His death is credited with fueling Elizabeth Taylor's AIDS advocacy. 

Alvin Ailey (1931 – 1989) - American choreographer and LGBT activist, Ailey formed the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York City in 1958. His dance company welcomed and celebrated black dancers who were frequently ignored by major companies. 

American drag queen and actor Divine (1945-1988, born Harris Glenn Milstead) - Milstead, who identified as male, found mainstream success with his drag persona -- Divine. Divine's biggest hit was in 1988's 'Hairspray,' playing the role of Edna Turnbald. 

At the peak of his fame, he died of an enlarged heart. 

(Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

NLGJA, a nonprofit founded in 1990, has been holding annual conferences for more than 25 years in order to bring together LGBTQ journalists from across the U.S. and beyond. This year's four-day conference was held in Palm Springs, which is widely viewed as one of the country's most LGBTQ-friendly cities.

In her blog post, Roberts said Saturday's incident presents a new opportunity for NLGJA, which will host its 2019 conference in New Orleans.

"NLGJA has been handed a moment in which it can be a leader in addressing and helping to solve the dearth of trans journalists problem," she wrote. "The question is will we see progress on increasing the abysmal numbers of trans, NB (non-binary) and GNC (gender-nonconforming) journalists before we gather again a year from now in New Orleans?"

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Fox News and Fox 28/ABC 6 did not immediately respond to NBC News' requests for comment.

FOLLOW NBC OUTON TWITTER,FACEBOOK& INSTAGRAM

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.