September 16th, 2016

Libreboot Leaves GNU Claiming Gender Identity Discrimination by FSF

So far, this entire story is summed up by the above headline. Until we know more, that’s all we know.

A disturbing story broke this morning concerning the sudden action by the Libreboot project to leave the GNU project. I started to write “potentially disturbing,” until it occurred to me that no matter how this plays out, the news is disturbing.

FSF logoLibreboot is a project that produces free, open source and blob-free software to replace proprietary BIOS firmware that performs only the tasks necessary to load and run an operating system. The project is endorsed by the Free Software Foundation and was an official part of the GNU Project from May 14 until today. This morning Libreboot’s main developer, Leah Rowe, announced in an email to the GNU mailing list that she is pulling Libreboot from the GNU Project.

“The Free Software Foundation recently fired a transgendered employee of the FSF, just for being trans, because some transphobic cissexist people wrote negatively about her. The FSF fired her because they thougdt she, rather than the assholes bullying her, was causing the FSF potential damage. As a result, she was fired from the FSF.

“As a trans person myself, I find this disgusting.

“I’m declaring here and now to the whole world that Libreboot is no longer part of the GNU project. I do not believe that the FSF or the GNU project deserve to exist.”

By itself, an official GNU software project removing itself from the program while alleging discriminatory behavior is news. However, I wouldn’t be too quick to organize a demonstration against the FSF for stepping on LGBT rights. So far we haven’t heard anything about FSF’s side of this story, and a discriminatory action such as this would be uncharacteristic. We’re also getting word of the discrimination from a second hand source, a friend, and with only vague details of the facts.

Right now it appears as if both sides have circled the wagons. I’ve made numerous attempts to get a comment from the FSF, and an email I sent to Ms. Rowe for more information has so far gone unanswered. Until we learn more, all we know is that an important software project has left the GNU Project while alleging gender identity discrimination.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

13 comments to Libreboot Leaves GNU Claiming Gender Identity Discrimination by FSF

  • Charley Mahan

    From the thread:
    From: Richard Stallman
    Subject: Re: [Libreboot] [gnu-prog-discuss] libreboot is not GNU Libreboot anymore
    Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2016 20:34:51 -0400
    [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
    [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
    [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden’s example. ]]]

    The dismissal of the staff person was not because of her gender.
    Her gender now is the same as it was when we hired her.
    It was not an issue then, and it is not an issue now.


    Dr Richard Stallman
    President, Free Software Foundation (gnu.org, fsf.org)
    Internet Hall-of-Famer (internethalloffame.org)
    Skype: No way! See stallman.org/skype.html.

  • Tyler Olson

    So, we should be fair and tolerant of everyone except those who are intolerant of others? But being intolerant of the intolerant is okay?

    Christine, you refer to Leah Rowe as “Ms Rowe”. I hope this pronoun is acceptable, and such an assumption on your part won’t get you on this individual’s list of those unworthy of existence!

  • tracyanne

    Obviously I have no idea what the FSF reasons were for sacking whomever it was that was sacked.

    What I would like to say though is if it relates to how well that person was fulfilling her duties, then I can say from personal experience that anyone regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation is not going to perform to their best ability, if they are being bullied in or out of the work place.

  • Jane

    You may want to look into Leah Rowe’s past out bursts attacking other members of the community. She has problems. The issue is not likely with the FSF.

  • TeaPartyLee

    SJWs always lie.

  • Strajder

    Anyone who is saying the GNU Project “doesn’t deserve to exist” fails to understand its core values. They probably never did, and the GNU Project is better off without them.

  • Seth

    I mean seriously. If someone fails to see the utility of the entirety of FSF and GNu simply because of some bullshit social issue, than they shouldn’t be allowed to use computer which is built upon principles and ideas implemented from Free Software.

  • medmedin2014

    Tran-sexual men are confused about their gender (which is obviously and naturally male) and they suffer from mental sickness, they really need to be treated by psychiatrists.

  • tracyanne

    @medmedin2014
    September 17, 2016 at 6:58 am

    How unfortunate then, that you’re merely an ignorant arsehole, because there appears to be no cure for that.

  • MrData

    It sure would help clarify things to learn what the stated reason for firing was.

    Until that happens, I’ll just go on treating people the way they ask to be treated. Seems like common decency.

  • Mike

    Do we know what happened? No.

    I do know that GNU and the FSF do a lot of good. If what Leah Rowe is obviously very angry about actually happened, then it is very unfortunate, but her over the top reaction seems to be a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Condemning the entire organization just makes her look irrational.

  • Rando McGillicutty

    > Condemning the entire organization just makes her look irrational.

    The organizations are giant heaps of bureaucratic nonsense that should have been discarded years ago as they serve absolutely no purpose to anyone but their members, but whatevs.

  • Ronnie

    Must be nice to be a protected class, something goes wrong, point a finger at some imaginary big bad wolf. Pathetic.