Every day of the work week, marketing firm YouGov interviews more than 5,000 Americans, asking them a series of questions about the country’s most popular brands. Ultimately, respondents assign scores to those brands based on how likable they are. YouGov’s “BrandIndex” scale runs from a low of -100 (“worst company on the planet”) to 0 (“meh”) to 100 (“this company makes rainbows and unicorns and Christopher Meloni action figures”).
In the course of interviewing those people, YouGov gathers demographic information, including whether respondents identify as LGB or T. Every year, YouGov tabulates the responses from folks in our community to determine which brands are perceived as the most LGBT-friendly.
We’re happy to announce that, once again, Ford Motor Company made YouGov’s top-20 list of LGBT-friendly brands — something it totally deserves, since Ford was one of five automakers to score a perfect 100 on the HRC’s most recent Corporate Equality Index. Though none of the others — Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen — landed in the top 20, we hope they didn’t fall far below it. (YouGov hasn’t released results for all 1,100 of the brands it tracks.)
We’re less happy to point out that, while Ford itself is popular with LGBT shoppers, one Ford dealership in Nebraska is funding virulent homophobia. Woodhouse Ford is a loud and proud supporter of Grace University, which is arguably one of the most anti-gay institutions of higher education in the entire U.S.
Grace has a strict “no gays” policy. In fact, the university just expelled Danielle Powell, a lesbian student who was mere months from graduating — and not only that, they’re insisting that she return $6,000 in “federal loans and grants that needed to be repaid because she didn’t finish the semester”.
These are the asshats that Woodhouse Ford is supporting through a matching grant program. And it’s no small program, either: by the looks of it, Woodhouse Ford has agreed to match every contribution made to Grace University, up to $100,000.
If there’s an upside to any of this, it’s that the outcry against Grace University seems to be significant. Like any private school, Grace is entitled to set its own code of conduct, so long as it doesn’t break any laws. (And as in many places, discriminating against LGBT students is completely legal in Nebraska.) However, Grace University seems to have gone much farther in its actions than other schools faced with similar dilemmas.
If you want to satisfy some activist urges, here are a couple of things you can do today:
- Sign this petition on Change.org, which asks Grace University to forgive Powell’s $6,000 debt. (The petition was started by Powell’s wife and has more than 57,000 signatures as of this moment.)
- Contact Woodhouse Ford and suggest they find other schools to support. Surely there are plenty of worthy programs in Nebraska that could use $100,000 — programs more in keeping with Ford Motor Company’s strong record on LGBT equality.
- Send a note to Ford Motor Company congratulating them on their great brand ranking among LGBT shoppers. You might mention in passing that at least one of Ford’s dealerships could use a lesson or two in that department.