WGXC-90.7 FM

Radio News: South Dakota Public Broadcasting fires new trans hire

May 19, 2022 11:33 pm

Current reports that in October last year South Dakota Public Broadcasting hired Stel Kline, who is transgender and uses they/them pronouns. They lasted at the radio network through April this year. “My position has been terminated despite being told there was nothing for me to improve on at a recent quarterly review,” Kline wrote April 18 on Twitter. “I was told the reasoning is that I am not objective and have a problem with authority." The working relationship did not begin well. An announcement of Kline's hiring in SDPB’s member magazine was to include the use of they/them pronouns and a reference to Kline’s drag name. But Current obtained an email from Fritz Miller, SDPB director of programming and communication, objecting to that. “I’m suggesting that we dump the ‘they’ pronouns and use their last name throughout the article,” Miller wrote. “… I understand and appreciate that Stel is comfortable with sharing that information, and is doing what they can to live their true self, but I fear that the more hate-mongering segment of our population will seize upon this stuff and make it the issue du jour.” Kline says, “Through this very first day on the job, it was just glaringly evident to me that personal bias clouds judgment in this workplace.” In January 2022 during a quarterly review, Cara Hetland, SDPB’s director of journalism content, told Kline that they had nothing to improve upon in their performance. But when Kline was fired, Hetland said their retweet of a Dec. 1, 2021, message by an NPR journalist was an example of inappropriate social media use. That Tweet was about a Supreme Court hearing about a Mississippi abortion law, that included a picture of a sign with text stating “women are not the only people who get abortions.” Previously Kline had been told to share their experiences as a trans person in South Dakota on social media. In another Tweet Kline wrote, “In my interview I was very clear that as a trans person I am unable to be impartial about attacks on my humanity. Objectivity is not a static identity, but when wielded as such becomes the language of those with the most power.... Declaring someone not objective is a selective practice used effectively to exclude POC / queer journos.” Read more about this story at Current.