Airbnb's gone all-out for LGBT Pride Month on their Twitter profile — they've rainbow-fied their avatar, and even pinned a short video celebrating pride.
"I host with pride," the video says.
But there seems to be a big gap between the brand's social media presence and its actual policies to protect LGBTQ folks looking for housing — a gap that no corporate attempt at progressivism could cover up.
Recently, an Airbnb host denied comics author and TV producer Shadi Petosky a place in Minneapolis — after she disclosed she's trans.
On Sunday (June 5), Petosky tweeted a screen grab of the host's response, which manages to be both enormously hateful and passive-aggressive at the same time:
"I really appreciate your honesty," the host wrote. "I'll have to pass though, but thank you. I have a 13-year-old boy going through puberty. I don't want him to feel any discomforts in his own home. Again, thanks for your inquiry & your honesty!"
This isn't the first time Airbnb has been called out for not protecting its users from discrimination. As Revelist previously reported, a study recently released from the Harvard Business School (HBS) revealed that "Black hosts receive 12% less for their rentals than white hosts," and that "potential guests with 'African-American sounding names' were 16% less likely to be accepted for the rental than those with 'white-sounding names.'"
Despite the recent backlash, Airbnb insists it's committed to protecting all of its users from hateful practices. In a statement shared with Revelist, the company said it has a "zero tolerance policy for discrimination," and that "when we become aware of [discrimination on the site] we take action."
But what about Petosky's case?
In an email to Revelist, Nick Papas, Airbnb's director of public affairs said the company is "removing [the] host from Airbnb." The company did not indicate when the host's account would be expunged from the site.
While Airbnb does seem to have an anti-discrimination policy available on their website, the company puts a lot of trust in its hosts and essentially encourages them to not be racist, homophobic assholes.
It's naive at best and willfully dismissive at worst.
Deactivating accounts on a case-by-case basis doesn't address larger issues of discrimination on Airbnb — hopefully the site realizes this fast, and gets its shit together accordingly.
Revelist has reached out to Shadi Petosky for comment.