Media personality B. Scott has filed a lawsuit against Black Entertainment Television and its parent company after he was allegedly pulled from a live broadcast because his clothing and appearance were too feminine.
B. Scott, who identifies as gay and transgender, is seeking $2.5 million in damages and a public apology from BET and Viacom in a lawsuit he filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on August 6.
He first discussed his lawsuit in which he alleges, among other things, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression under California law, with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts on Monday. B. Scott told the Washington Blade during a separate interview that producers of the red carpet segment of the BET Awards that took place in Los Angeles on June 30 had “pre-approved” both of the outfits that included a flowing black tunic and black pants he had planned to wear.
B. Scott alleges he was “literally yanked backstage” after his first segment and “told that he ‘wasn’t acceptable.’” His lawsuit further contends he was told to “mute the makeup, pull his hair back and he was forced to remove his clothing and take off his heels; thereby completely changing his gender identity and expression.”
“They forced him to change into solely men’s clothing, different from the androgynous style of dress he’s used to, which he was uncomfortable with,” it reads.
B. Scott told the Blade a representative from Proctor and Gamble, which sponsored the red carpet segment, who was on site urged BET producers to allow him to return to the show because she felt the decision to remove him was wrong. The lawsuit alleges B. Scott was added to the end of the program in “a diminished capacity” alongside singer Adrienne Bailon “only after a complete change in his wardrobe and appearance.”
“I have had experiences before where people have said and treated me in ways that I felt was because of my gender expression and/or my sexual orientation,” B. Scott told the Blade. “What’s different about this case or the situation was that it happened before a live audience. It happened in front of all of my peers.”
BET categorized the incident as “a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties” in a statement it released on July 2. The network reiterated this position to the Blade earlier on Tuesday.
“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds,” it said. “We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”
B. Scott, who was born in Virginia and briefly lived in D.C. before moving to Los Angeles in 2005, described BET’s July 2 statement to the Blade as a “slap in the face apology.” He said his lawyer,Waukeen McCoy, has received phone calls since he filed his lawsuit from people who claim to have experienced what he described as “similar discrimination” from the network.
“Everyone has a right to express who they are on the inside or the outside,” B. Scott said. “I’m fighting for that right for people to be who they are and not to be ashamed of it and not to be ostracized or taken advantage of or abused for it or discriminated against. This is about the people who don’t have a voice.”