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LGBTQ+ & BIPOC youth led study on COVID-19 vax has surprising results

Economic disadvantage made a much more significant impact on LGBTQ vaccination rates as compared to non-LGBTQ vaccination rates

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Courtesy of Out Boulder County

BOULDER, Co. – Out Boulder County in partnership with El Centro AMISTAD and Unwoven Ventures with the leadership of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth created what may be the nation’s first LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth-led survey on COVID-19 vaccination uptake, acceptance, hesitancy, and resistance. A key finding of the survey is that economic disadvantage and race make a meaningful impact on vaccination rates and levels of acceptance.

“LGBTQ+ and BIPOC young people are too often ignored by the medical establishment and society. It was important to Out Boulder County and our partners to have youth lead the survey and to elevate voices in these too often ignored communities,” said Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County which provides advocacy, services, programs and support to LGBTQ+ communities in Boulder County and beyond. “Understanding their views and attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination is crucial to managing and ending this pandemic.”

There were 420 respondents who met the criteria for inclusion in the survey. It consisted of 37 questions, was offered in both English and Spanish, and targeted youth ages 12 to 17 and young adults between the ages of 18 to 24. The survey was advertised by the staff and interns at Out Boulder County and El Centro AMISTAD through social media, direct marketing at events, outreach to partnering organizations, radio, school GSA networks, as well as yard signs in several locations. 

There continues to be little research that examines the vaccination rates and attitudes toward vaccination of youth and young adults belonging to historically marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+, Hispanic/Latinx, Neurodivergent and individuals with Disabilities. 

“Studying vaccination rates as well as views, attitudes, and barriers to vaccination at these intersections of identities revealed valuable data that should inform efforts to promote vaccination,” said Michal Duffy, Director of Education and Research at Out Boulder County. “The data clearly reveal that a person’s socio-economic status and identity impacts their views toward vaccination and their successful uptake of the vaccine.” 

When it comes to understanding COVID-19 vaccine reluctance, this information is crucial to an effective community vaccination program, which requires participation by people of every age group and demographic. 

Key Survey Findings

Economic Status Impact on Vaccination Rates

A key finding of this study is that economically disadvantaged respondents have lower rates of vaccination overall. Economic disadvantage made a much more significant impact on LGBTQ vaccination rates as compared to non-LGBTQ vaccination rates. The following bulleted data points illustrate this key finding.

●     40% of economically disadvantaged LGBTQ young adults ages 18-24 are vaccinated, where as the vaccination rates jump to 86% for those who are economically resourced. 70% of economically disadvantaged LGBTQ youth ages 12-17 are vaccinated compared to 81% who are economically resourced. 

●      All non-LGBTQ respondents ages 18-24, whether economically disadvantaged or resourced, have a 78% vaccination rate. For youth ages 12-17, economically disadvantaged non-LGBTQ respondents are vaccinated at a slightly higher rate of 61% than those who are economically resourced at a rate of 58%. 

The results also showed a significant relationship between race, economic advantage, and vaccination rates. Economically disadvantaged Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) respondents have a significantly higher vaccination rate than economically disadvantaged White respondents. 

●     For financially disadvantaged respondents ages 12-17, BIPOC youth reported a 68% vaccination rate compared to 57% for White respondents. For ages 18-24, the difference is even greater at 80% of BIPOC respondents compared to 27% of White respondents. 

Vaccine Acceptance, Hesitancy, and Resistance

While economically disadvantaged respondents revealed lower vaccination rates overall, they reported higher rates of vaccine acceptance (50% vs 30%) and hesitancy (23% vs 11%) and lower vaccine resistance (27% vs 59%), than those who are financially resourced. 

This demonstrates an opportunity to reach economically disadvantaged, unvaccinated youth through innovative community-based strategies.

Another important finding is that BIPOC respondents have a significantly higher rate of vaccine acceptance and lower vaccine resistance than White respondents; this trend also holds true for Hispanic/Latinx respondents in comparison to non-Hispanic/Latinx respondents. White, non-LGBTQ respondents reported the lowest vaccination rate compared to both LGBTQ and Non-LGBTQ BIPOC, as well as White LGBTQ respondents. 

For unvaccinated participants who reported that they are willing to get the vaccine if it is easily accessible (i.e., vaccine accepting), the highest reported barriers were parent-related, followed by transportation and not knowing where to get the vaccine or the cost. “My parents don’t want me to get the vaccine” was reported as the top reason for the following respondent groups: White, non-Hispanic, English as the primary household language, assigned male at birth, transgender, nonbinary, and LGBTQ respondents. 

Additional cited concerns that present opportunities for educational outreach to youth and young adults include: impacts on fertility, interactions with other conditions, associated costs, and accessibility and availability of vaccines. 

Regardless of vaccination status, all respondents have concerns. Overall, mental health (65%) and physical health (58%) are the greatest concerns.

Opportunities

The survey findings demonstrated three important opportunities to reach unvaccinated youth and young adults.

●     Community-based outreach and education strategies aimed at economically disadvantaged, unvaccinated youth have the potential to make substantial impacts on vaccinate acceptance and uptake numbers.

●     Accessible and accurate vaccine education for parents about the importance and benefit of vaccination for youth and young adults that also addresses common misconceptions could remove the primary barriers facing vaccine-accepting youth and young adults.

●     All education efforts should include clear and accurate information addressing commonly cited concerns in the survey data including: impacts on fertility, interactions with other conditions, associated costs, and accessibility and availability of vaccines.

The full research report is available here.

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About Out Boulder County:

For over 25 years, Out Boulder County has advocated, educated and provided services, programs and support to Boulder County’s LGBTQ+ communities. Our public policy advocacy is more important now than ever. www.outboulder.org

About Centro AMISTAD:

El Centro AMISTAD creates opportunities and programs that promote health equity, education, and quality of life for the Latino community in Boulder County. https://www.elcentroamistad.org/

About Unwoven Ventures:

Through strategic partnerships, Unwoven Ventures leverages original research, impact investments and grants to build community and create a more equitable and just world.

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Research/Study

Attacks on LGBTQ+ rights associated with democratic backsliding

The first study to analyze the relationship between LGBT of LGBTI people and their rights across 175 countries

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UC Berkeley students protest in the Spring of 2020. (Photo by Geoff Livingston)

LOS ANGELES – A new report from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that countries that are highly accepting of LGBTI people tend to have high levels of liberal democracy, such as free and fair elections and the protection of civil liberties. More accepting countries also tend to have higher GDP per capita and a greater share of their population in urban environments.
 
Using data from the LGBTI Global Acceptance Index and the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, researchers examined the relationship between democratic backsliding and acceptance of LGBTI people. The report highlights four countries—Indonesia, Brazil, Poland, and Ghana—to describe the complex dynamics between anti-LGBTI rhetoric and policies and the rise of authoritarianism.
 
Results show that attacks on LGBTI people and their rights are strongly associated with democratic backslide. A decline in LGBTI acceptance may, under some conditions, be a bellwether of democratic decline.
 
“Anti-LGBTI rhetoric and policies can signal a more fundamental erosion in democratic norms and institutions,” said study author Ari Shaw, Senior Fellow and Director of International Programs at the Williams Institute. “Efforts to marginalize LGBTI people are, on their face, evidence that democracy and respect for minority rights are under threat.”
 
Restrictions on freedoms of association and expression, in particular, may negatively affect LGBTI acceptance given that they are fundamental to the ability of activists to organize and advocate for greater inclusion and to oppose further rollback of rights.
 
“The links between democracy indicators and LGBTI acceptance are clear but complex,” said study author Andrew R. Flores, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. “Future research should examine how state-sanctioned attacks on LGBTI people influence democratic backsliding and how democratic backsliding diminishes acceptance of LGBTI people and their rights.”

Editor’s note:

Democratic backsliding is “a process of regime change towards autocracy that makes the exercise of political power more arbitrary and repressive and that restricts the space for public contestation and political participation in the process of government selection”.

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Research/Study

Instagram lets Gays against Groomers spread harmful rhetoric

Many of the group’s posts violate Instagram’s policies against hate speech, harassment, and misinformation, but has gone largely unchecked

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Camden Carter | WASHINGTON – Meta has allowed anti-LGBTQ group Gays Against Groomers — which falsely frames itself as a grassroots coalition that wants to protect children, but is actually composed of experienced right-wing grifters — to push false narratives about LGBTQ people on its platforms, particularly Instagram. 

Facebook, Instagram, and Threads are some of the few mainstream platforms that have not banned Gays Against Groomers, even though the group seems to have repeatedly violated the platforms’ policies, including by repeatedly promoting the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur, claiming trans people have mental and moral deficiencies, and spreading misinformation that’s been debunked by third-party fact-checkers. 

Instagram, in particular, has a history of failing to moderate harmful accounts despite Meta’s anti-hate speech and harassment policies. Attacks have often targeted LGBTQ people, whom Meta has repeatedly claimed it is committed to supporting.

Gays Against Groomers maintains Facebook, Instagram, and Threads accounts, but it has been banned or suspended from other platforms:

  • The anti-LGBTQ group falsely frames itself as a “grassroots” coalition that wants to protect children. On June 6, the group claimed on Instagram, “1 year ago today, @thegaywhostrayed had the idea to create this organization to fight back against the sick agenda being pushed on kids from inside the community. … Our team is comprised solely of volunteers, dedicating huge amounts of their time to furthering our mission. No one has pocketed a dime, and we have had zero big donors. Everything we do is purely a grassroots effort.” [Instagram, 6/10/23] 
  • Gays Against Groomers is actually composed of experienced right-wing grifters. The group’s founder Jaimee Michell and former chair and co-founder David Leatherwood both have employment histories with right-wing firms and connections to right-wing figures, as do several of its various staff and members. [Media Matters, 7/6/232/7/23]
  • The organization has already been banned from Venmo and PayPal. PayPal, which is also Venmo’s parent company, stated that the group violated its prohibition of “activities that promote hate, violence, or discriminatory intolerance.” [Media Matters, 9/26/22]
  • Meta’s platforms are seemingly some of the only major social media platforms that hasn’t banned or suspended Gays Against Groomers. The group’s Google account has been banned, and Gays Against Groomers was suspended from Twitter multiple times, at least one of which was reportedly for using the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur that was prohibited on Twitter before Elon Musk took over the company. [Instagram, 5/20/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers’ official Instagram account was created on June 6, 2022, and has since gained over 357,000 followers. Since its creation in June 2022, the group’s main Instagram account has promoted a backup account in its bio. According to the backup account’s bio, it is “just here because we know who big tech protects, so our time on Instagram is probably limited.” Gay’s Against Groomers’ Instagram account has remained on the platform for over a year, during which period it has posted over 1,000 times. [Instagram via Media Matters, 6/6/22]
  • On Facebook, Gays Against Groomers had garnered approximately 39,000 followers between its page’s June 6, 2022, creation and publication of this piece. The organization has used this Meta-owned platform to promote its merchandise and accounts on other platforms. According to the Daily Dot, the Facebook account was suspended last week, but has since been reinstated with Meta confirming “the suspension was the result of a platform error.” [Facebook, 8/24/23; Daily Dot, 9/25/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers has also joined Threads, Meta’s version of Twitter that is anchored to a user’s Instagram account. Threads is currently dictated by the same Community Guidelines as Instagram, however several potentially violative accounts quickly migrated to the new platform, including Gays Against Groomers, which has accumulated over 24,000 followers. On Threads, Gays Against Groomers has continued to post hateful and false content about LGBTQ people. [Threads, accessed 8/31/23]

Meta’s policies prohibit users from targeting LGBTQ people with hate speech (including “groomer”) and harassment, and it promises to label misinformation:

  • Instagram’s community guidelines state that the platform wants “to foster a positive, diverse community” and that it will “remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech.” The policy further specifies that “it’s never OK to encourage violence or attack anyone based on their … sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation” and that “overstepping these boundaries may result in deleted content, disabled accounts, or other restrictions.” [Instagram, accessed 8/31/23]
  • Instagram users must also follow policies around hate speech that govern Facebook. Instagram’s community guidelines also link to Facebook’s hate speech policy, which prohibits “content targeting a person or group of people … on the basis of … protected characteristic(s)” with “dehumanizing speech or imagery in the form of comparisons, generalizations, or unqualified behavioral statements.” The policy specifies that it includes targeting protected groups with comparisons to criminals, statements denying existence, harmful stereotypes, and generalizations about physical, mental, and moral deficiencies. [Facebook, accessed 8/31/23]
  • Instagram users are subject to Facebook’s policies against bullying and harassment. Instagram’s community guidelines also link to Facebook’s bullying and harassment policy, which protects “private minors, private adults (who must self-report), and minor involuntary public figures” from claims about sexual orientation or gender identity and “expressions of contempt, disgust, or content rejecting the existence of an individual.” [Facebook, accessed 8/31/23]
  • Meta told the Daily Dot that “baselessly calling LGBTQ people or the community ‘groomers’ or accusing them of ‘grooming’ is governed under their policies prohibiting hate speech.” [Daily Dot, 7/20/22
  • Meta claimed that posts on Instagram that contain information that has been deemed false, misleading, or altered by a third party fact-checker will be labeled as such and deprioritized in feeds. According to Meta, the company is “committed to fighting the spread of misinformation on Facebook and Instagram” and it works “with independent third-party fact-checking organizations who are certified through the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to identify, review and take action on this content.” Until recently, Meta claimed that “each time a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we significantly reduce the content’s distribution so that fewer people see it,” and that it applies “a warning label that links to the fact-checker’s article, disproving the claim with original reporting.” Meta also said its “reduced distribution” approach could be applied to content deemed “altered” or “missing context.” [Facebook, accessed 8/31/238/31/23]

Meta’s policies prohibit users from targeting LGBTQ people with hate speech (including “groomer”) and harassment, and it promises to label misinformation:

  • Instagram’s community guidelines state that the platform wants “to foster a positive, diverse community” and that it will “remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech.” The policy further specifies that “it’s never OK to encourage violence or attack anyone based on their … sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation” and that “overstepping these boundaries may result in deleted content, disabled accounts, or other restrictions.” [Instagram, accessed 8/31/23]
  • Instagram users must also follow policies around hate speech that govern Facebook. Instagram’s community guidelines also link to Facebook’s hate speech policy, which prohibits “content targeting a person or group of people … on the basis of … protected characteristic(s)” with “dehumanizing speech or imagery in the form of comparisons, generalizations, or unqualified behavioral statements.” The policy specifies that it includes targeting protected groups with comparisons to criminals, statements denying existence, harmful stereotypes, and generalizations about physical, mental, and moral deficiencies. [Facebook, accessed 8/31/23]
  • Instagram users are subject to Facebook’s policies against bullying and harassment. Instagram’s community guidelines also link to Facebook’s bullying and harassment policy, which protects “private minors, private adults (who must self-report), and minor involuntary public figures” from claims about sexual orientation or gender identity and “expressions of contempt, disgust, or content rejecting the existence of an individual.” [Facebook, accessed 8/31/23]
  • Meta told the Daily Dot that “baselessly calling LGBTQ people or the community ‘groomers’ or accusing them of ‘grooming’ is governed under their policies prohibiting hate speech.” [Daily Dot, 7/20/22
  • Meta claimed that posts on Instagram that contain information that has been deemed false, misleading, or altered by a third party fact-checker will be labeled as such and deprioritized in feeds. According to Meta, the company is “committed to fighting the spread of misinformation on Facebook and Instagram” and it works “with independent third-party fact-checking organizations who are certified through the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to identify, review and take action on this content.” Until recently, Meta claimed that “each time a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we significantly reduce the content’s distribution so that fewer people see it,” and that it applies “a warning label that links to the fact-checker’s article, disproving the claim with original reporting.” Meta also said its “reduced distribution” approach could be applied to content deemed “altered” or “missing context.” [Facebook, accessed 8/31/238/31/23]

On Instagram, Gays Against Groomers has repeatedly referred to LGBTQ people as “groomers”:

  • In a post, Gays Against Groomers claimed that LGBTQ people “are actively grooming kids into the Rainbow Cult.” The post cited a report that found “1 in 4 high school students identifies as LGBTQ” and implied that it is a result of the LGBTQ community “grooming” kids. [Instagram, 4/28/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers shared a TikTok that showed a video of children dancing and waving Pride flags, calling it an “indoctrination ceremony.” The caption of the post reads, “Indoctrinated kids are groomed kids.” [Instagram via Media Matters, 6/6/23, Instagram, 6/6/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers shared a clip from Sesame Street celebrating Pride, saying that it is about “grooming children for sexual orientation and sexual preference.” The caption referred to the video as “teaching toddlers about sex” and “grooming, point blank.” [Instagram via Media Matters, 6/5/23, Instagram, 6/5/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers shared a TikTok claiming that being trans is a “social contagion” that is being pushed by “woke teachers.” The post (seemingly made by the organization’s associate director of communications, Carol Hatch) also claims that parents who support their trans children are guilty of “grooming,” and accuses them of “sexualizing children” and making them “low-hanging fruit for predators.” The claim that gender dysphoria is a “social contagion” has been debunked by numerous medical organizations. [Instagram, 5/30/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers attacked Target for “pushing LGBTQ+ clothing and products on children.” In a post noting that the group had called for a boycott of Target, Gays Against Groomers included an image where the Target sign was replaced with the word “groomers.” The caption that the group will “no longer allow these companies to pervert our youth and groom them into the Gender Cult!” [Instagram, 5/25/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers posted a clip of Megyn Kelly discussing the organization and attacking Target, saying that if “you’re marketing this stuff to little kids, you are a groomer.” The caption of the post called for viewers to boycott Target and “not support companies that support sexualizing and indoctrinating children.” [Instagram, 5/18/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers posted a video about a clip from a children’s TV show featuring a Pride celebration and trans characters, captioned “There is a massive agenda currently being pushed to manipulate and groom your children.” [Instagram, 5/16/23]
  • The organization posted a video claiming that if you are against the organization, that’s because you want to “push your agenda because you want to make it alright to be a sexual queer kid in the 21st century. You want full-on access to adult porn for kids, kids have sex with adults.” The caption referred to the people who do not support GAG as “people that want to groom and sexually abuse children.” [Instagram, 4/25/23]
  • In a video posted by Gays Against Groomers, the speaker claims that “the entire point of the Pride events” is to “sexually groom” children. The caption stated: “If you don’t want to be called a groomer, stop acting like one.” [Instagram, 4/24/23]
  • Gays Against Groomers shared a post promoting a recently published article on its blog titled “The Transgender Bill of Rights: Gay Erasure and the End of Childhood Innocence.” The caption of the post claimed that the “The Trans Bill of Rights” is “SPONSORED BY PEDOPHILES,” that “they want to erase us” and “REMOVE gay people from the conversation,” and that progressives are really “groomers.” [Instagram, 4/9/23
  • The caption of a post shared by the group read, “There’s no such thing as ‘trans kids.’ There are only groomed kids.” The video in the post featured the leader of the Illinois chapter of Gays Against Groomers discussing the inclusion of a flag with the words “protect trans kids” in the background of an animated movie and asking: “Why are we highlighting the sexualization of children? Why are we pushing ideologies onto these kids?” [Instagram, 4/6/23]
  • The organization shared a video in which the speaker said every institution that supports age-appropriate gender-affirming care has been “captured by groomers” and that the people involved in them should “never see sunlight again.” [Instagram, 4/4/23]

On Instagram, Gays Against Groomers has repeatedly targeted trans people with claims of mental deficiencies:

  • Gays Against Groomers posted a video featuring the group’s New York chapter leader claiming that “therapists are manipulating parents and the children” and said trans people have a “mental disorder.” The caption quoted the person in the video as saying, “Chopping off body parts will not make you the opposite sex, and will probably not solve your mental disorder.” [Instagram, 5/4/23
  • Gays Against Groomers posted a video claiming that being trans is a “mental illness.” The caption, referencing an image of a trans person in an ad, said that “mental illness should not be celebrated as if it is something to aspire to be like. And that is exactly what this poster is.” [Instagram, 4/21/23
  • Gays Against Groomers posted a screenshot of a tweet it posted saying that “trans is the new emo. Except instead of growing out of that phase with just a bad haircut, these kids will be left sterilized and missing body parts.” The post also promotes a T-shirt and other merchandise for sale. [Instagram, 4/11/23
  • Gays Against Groomers posted screenshots of an article from its blog in response to the Nashville, Tennessee, school shooting. The caption used the tragic event to make the blanket claim that trans people are a “monstrosity of a movement” and that the shooter was one of its “savage footsoldiers” who “openly encourage” “bloodshed.” [Instagram, 3/28/23
  • Gays Against Groomers posted about the Nashville school shooter, speculating that they were on testosterone and suggesting that hormone therapy may have been responsible for their violent actions. The caption also claimed that “we need to have the discussion about the effects these drugs are having on the minds of young, mentally ill people.” [Instagram, 3/27/23
  • The group shared a post claiming the rise in percentage of Gen Zers who identify as LGBTQ is “not organic. It’s a social contagion.” The post also claimed that “being trans is a trend.” [Instagram, 4/27/23
  • Gays Against Groomers shared a video in which the speaker says the “Cartoon Network is literally guilty of trying to indoctrinate children into the gender cult” seemingly because the TV network posted about sharing and respecting people’s pronouns. The speaker also claimed that the “people that push this” are “actively recruiting children” to be trans. [Instagram, 3/31/23]

Gays Against Groomers has repeatedly spread misinformation about gender-affirming care on Instagram, including falsely claiming that it is a form of mutilation or pedophilia:

  • Gays Against Groomers has spread false narratives about gender-affirming care, even though these tropes have been repeatedly debunked by Meta’s third-party fact-checkers:
    • Gays Against Groomers posted an image of a tweet that equated gender-affirming care with mutilation and referred to trans people as part of a “cult.” [Instagram, 6/9/23] 
    • Gays Against Groomers shared a post referring to gender-affirming surgery as “sterilization and mutilation.” [Instagram, 5/18/23
    • Gays Against Groomers again shared a post referring to gender-affirming surgery as “sterilization and mutilation.” [Instagram, 5/26/23
    • The organization posted that “gender ideology” is being “pushed on children, leading them to be chemically castrated and mutilated.” [Instagram, 5/17/23
    • Gays Against Groomers shared a post claiming that “transing youth is the new conversion therapy, only 1000x worse.” It claimed that those supporting people’s gender identity are “erasing us” (meaning gay people). [Instagram, 5/13/23
    • Gays Against Groomers also shared a post that compared gender-affirming care for youth to pedophilia. The post also claimed that providing gender-affirming care constitutes “erasing” lesbians. [Instagram, 5/9/23
    • The group shared a TikTok with a caption claiming that “effeminate boys and masculine girls are being herded like cattle into transition by parents, activists & doctors” and called it “gay erasure.” [Instagram, 4/3/23
    • Gays Against Groomers shared a TikTok with a caption saying that “children are being drowned in trans ideology” and that there is an “indoctrination issue.” The video said it’s “not a gun control issue, and it’s not a mental health issue.” [Instagram, 4/1/23

On Instagram, Gays Against Groomers has repeatedly accused LGBTQ people of having moral deficiencies, including by pushing the right-wing myth that LGBTQ people are embracing pedophilia:

  • Recycled claims that that LGBTQ people are embracing pedophilia have also been thoroughly debunked, yet Gays Against Groomers has repeatedly pushed this narrative on Instagram:
    • The group posted a screenshot of a tweet claiming that a “trans lifestyle” is “being pushed on children” by people “because they are evil.” The second image in the post promotes merchandise being sold by Gays Against Groomers. [Instagram, 5/12/23]
    • The organization posted a video in which the speaker claims that students care about trans rights only because they have been “indoctrinated.” The caption stated: “A child is not capable of being queer. To say a child can be queer is to say a child is a sexual being.” [Instagram, 3/29/23
    • Gays Against Groomers posted a video in which the speaker shared an article from Fox News falsely claiming that the United Nations backed recommendations to “lower the age of consent and decriminalize sex between an adult and a child.” The caption of the post claimed that this shows “they are moving forward with their agenda.” This post was flagged as false by Instagram, but as of publication it remained up with nearly 20,000 likes. [Instagram, 4/18/23
    • Gays Against Groomers shared a post implying that allowing gender-affirming care for children would lead to the removal of protections around sexual consent. The caption stated, “If a child can consent to something as extreme as permanently altering their bodies … what CAN’T they consent to?” and insisted that “that’s where this agenda leads next.” [Instagram, 4/14/23
    • The group posted a video in which the speaker claimed that “the inevitable logical end to this entire conversation” is asking, “If a child at 12 years old can consent to permanently changing their sex, how can they not consent, at that point, to actually engage in sex?” The implication was that the end goal of providing gender-affirming care to minors is to remove the legal protections around the age of sexual consent. [Instagram, 4/16/23
    • The organization posted a video in which the speaker claimed that the representation of fictional characters as gay is not about representation but about “sexual messaging.” [Instagram, 4/5/23
    • In a video shared by Gays Against Groomers, the creator implied that “LGBT rights” are being used as a cover for “people trying to convince you that they should twerk in front of your kids.” [Instagram, 3/30/23
    • In another video posted by the organization, the speaker echoed the false right-wing narrative that the LGBTQ community has progressed from wanting to get married to wanting “gay porn in school libraries.” The caption also claimed that “our children have become the target of a deep, dark agenda.” [Instagram, 3/23/23
    • That same day, the group posted a screenshot of a tweet in which it claimed that “gender ideology is a trojan horse for pedophilia.” It added that “if children can consent to something as extreme and permanently altering their bodies” they will be allowed to consent to anything. [Instagram, 3/23/23
    • Gays Against Groomers also posted a screenshot of a tweet stating that “pornographic or sexually explicit children’s books in schools” are “always LGBTQ+ material.” The caption of the post claimed that “they hide behind the rainbow to avoid criticism.” [Instagram, 3/21/23]
    • Gays Against Groomers posted a video accusing both Q Chat and The Trevor Project of being “a gateway for pedophiles to gain access to children.” Q chat and The Trevor Project are organizations aimed at helping queer youth. [Instagram, 3/4/23

Gays Against Groomers has also targeted LGBTQ people on Meta’s other platforms, Facebook and Threads:

  • Gays Against Groomers posted to Threads that “schools have become nothing more than dysphoria factories that pump out confused children leading them straight to the butcher’s table.” The post also stated that we should “abolish the education system.” [Threads, 7/8/23
  • The group also claimed that “predators and perverts hide being the rainbow.” The post included a meme implying that sex offenders are excused if they are LGBTQ. [Threads, 7/5/23
  • Gays Against Groomers used Threads to promote a giveaway with an image that said “Groomers GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL.” The giveaway included stickers that say “big pharma loves trans kids” (with a dollar sign-emblazoned heart) and a magnet depicting a Monopoly-style policeman dragging a drag queen to prison by the legs. [Threads, 7/5/23
  • On Threads, Gays Against Groomers expressed surprise that its accounts and Moms for Liberty’s accounts have “both made it this long on social media.” This comment came in response to a Moms for Liberty comment saying, “Maybe we’ll finally be cool enough to get banned.” [Threads, 7/5/23
  • On Facebook, the group referred to doctors who provide gender-affirming care as “child butchers.” The caption of the post claimed that doctors and hospitals are “pushing kids to medically transition.” [Facebook, 7/18/23
  • In another Facebook post, Gays Against Groomers called the mothers of trans children “psychotic” and claimed that they are using their children as a “status symbol.” It added that parents who support their trans children have “Transhausen by proxy” and promoted merchandise bearing the phrase. [Facebook, 7/23/23
  • In another post, the organization declared that it does “not say family friendly drag queen” but “groomer clown” and equated LGBTQ books to “pornographic filth” and gender-affirming care to “child sterilization and mutilation.” The post urged followers to do the same. [Facebook, 7/30/23
  • In one post shared to Facebook, Gays Against Groomers claimed that trans rights activists believe that “children should have their body parts removed to define their gender.” The caption of the post also claimed that gender ideology is “rooted in irrationality.” [Facebook, 8/2/23]
  • On Facebook, Gays Against Groomers promoted its new media hub. The caption said the group is “going nuclear on these groomers and child predators.” [Facebook, 8/5/23
  • Gays Against Groomers has also attacked drag queens on Facebook, implying that they are “attracted to” children. [Facebook, 8/6/23
  • Gays Against Groomers used a Facebook post to falsely suggest that surgery is the only form of gender-affirming care and that it is regularly offered as treatment for minors. The caption of the post said the group would “post the pictures here ourselves but it would get us banned.” [Facebook, 7/7/23]

Related:

Grifter Gays: How conspiracy theorists and right-wing operatives created Gays Against Groomers

Instagram is letting accounts promoting hate speech go unchecked

Right-wing LGBTQ influencers switch teams as homophobic video shared by DeSantis campaign draws widespread condemnation

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The preceding article & research study was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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EdTech threats to LGBTQ student privacy & equity in the age of AI 

Schools are filtering & blocking LGBTQ+ & race-related content, with licensed special education teachers more likely to report such practices

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LGBTQ + censored graphic by Nicole Bixler

By Elizabeth LairdMaddy Dwyer & Hugh Grant-Chapman | WASHINGTON – In schools across the country, the use of educational data and technology (edtech) remains nearly ubiquitous. In addition to supporting instruction, schools have used edtech to respond to the painfully present safety threats that they face on a daily basis — from gun violence to the youth mental health crisis.

However, long-standing technologies such as content filtering and blocking and student activity monitoring pose well-documented privacy and equity risks to students. Nonetheless, schools continue to deploy these technologies on a mass scale. And with generative artificial intelligence (AI) becoming rapidly integrated into the education space, many new risks are being introduced to students.

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) conducted surveys of high school students and middle and high school parents and teachers from July to August 2023 to understand how edtech used by schools is tangibly affecting those it claims to serve. The research focuses on student privacy concerns and schools’ capacity to address them; emerging uses of AI-driven technology such as predictive analytics; and deep dives into content filtering and blocking, student activity monitoring, and generative AI, encompassing both well-established and emerging technology. These surveys build on CDT’s previous research, which revealed that student activity monitoring is adversely affecting all students, especially historically marginalized and under-resourced students.

Whether old or new, technologies deployed across schools have negative impacts on students, and schools are out of step in addressing rising concerns:

  • Schools are not adequately engaging and supporting students, parents, and teachers in addressing concerns about school data and technology practices: Students, parents, and teachers report a lack of guidance, information, and training on privacy, student activity monitoring, content filtering and blocking, and generative AI. They want more support from their schools and to be involved in decisions about whether and how these technologies are used.
  • Content blocking and filtering is stifling student learning and growth: Students and teachers agree that this technology is a barrier to learning, often making it hard to complete school assignments and access useful information.
  • Student activity monitoring continues to harm many of the students it claims to help: Disciplinary actions, outing of students, and initiating of law enforcement contact are still regular outcomes of the use of this technology, even though it is procured by schools to help keep students safe.
  • Schools have provided little guidance about generative AI, leaving students, parents, and teachers in the dark: Students, parents, and teachers report a collective state of confusion about policies and procedures related to responsible generative AI use in the classroom. Meanwhile, students are getting in trouble for the use of this technology.

Even more disheartening is that in all of these areas, at-risk communities of students are still experiencing disproportionate negative impacts of these old and new technologies:

  • Schools are filtering and blocking LGBTQ+ and race-related content, with Title I and licensed special education teachers more likely to report such practices: Although filtering and blocking technology was originally intended to primarily target explicit adult content, more school administrators are using it to restrict access to other content they think is inappropriate, including LGBTQ+ and race-related content. Title I and licensed special education teachers are more likely to report this occurrence. In key respects, this finding parallels the broader trend in education of removing books and curricular content on these subjects.
  • Student activity monitoring is disproportionately harming students with disabilities and LGBTQ+ students: Students with individualized education programs (IEPs) and/or 504 plans as well as licensed special education teachers report higher rates of discipline arising from student activity monitoring. LGBTQ+ students are also still being disciplined more than their peers and outed without their consent.
  • Title I and licensed special education teachers report higher rates of students receiving disciplinary actions for using or being accused of using generative AI: Despite having little guidance from schools on generative AI use, Title I teachers, licensed special education teachers, and parents of students with IEPs and/or 504 plans report higher rates of their student(s) getting in trouble as compared to peers.

Previous CDT research and this year’s findings continue to document the risks and harms of edtech on all students but especially on vulnerable communities. As uses of edtech, particularly AI-driven technology, continue to expand, education leaders across the country should focus not only on privacy concerns but also on identifying and preventing discrimination. Luckily, they already have the tools to do so with well-established civil rights laws that apply to discriminatory uses of technology.

Read the full report (Here)

Explore the research slide deck (Here)

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The preceding article was previously published by The Center for Democracy & Technology and is republished with permission.

CDT is the leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization fighting to advance civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age.

CDT shapes technology policy, governance, and design with a focus on equity and democratic values. Established in 1994, CDT has been a trusted advocate for digital rights since the earliest days of the internet.

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Candace Owens suspended for anti-LGBTQ YouTube hate again

The Daily Wire personality’s channel has recently featured false accusations that the LGBTQ “agenda” is to push pedophilia

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By  Ari Drennen | WASHINGTON – A short video posted Tuesday on the Daily Wire’s YouTube channel contained a by-now familiar disclosure: the platform had suspended Candace Owens, “prohibiting her from posting or appearing on any of the Daily Wire’s YouTube channels.” Multiple Daily Wire personalities have triggered enforcement actions by the platform for their frequent vitriol against LGBTQ people.

In announcing the news, Daily Wire personality Michael Knowles did not say how long the suspension was expected to last, but Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing stated in June that Owens and Knowles had both received two strikes against their accounts for violating YouTube’s policies on hate speech. Three strikes against a YouTube account in a 90-day period can lead to its termination. Because the Daily Wire did not confirm the timing of the first strike, it is possible that it occurred prior to the current 90 window, leaving the podcaster with two strikes.

In response to a request for comment, a YouTube spokesperson stated: “We issued a strike to the Candace Owens Podcast channel for violating our hate speech policy, which prohibits content promoting hatred against protected individuals or groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.”

The video “Carlee Russell The Female Jussie Smollet?!” appears to have been removed from Owens’ channel. Media Matters previously reported on comments featured in the video, which followed Owens’ publication of an interview titled, “Is Homosexuality Ruining Western Civilization?” and included the claim that “it is gay men that are abusing children” in the Catholic Church.

Independent analysis still shows, however, that Owens’ YouTube channel, which is estimated to earn as much as $1.1 million per yearremains monetized with advertiser content. Knowles’ show, which Social Blade estimates to bring in as much as $3 million annually, is monetized as well. 

Knowles responded to his own prior suspension by removing the most extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from his show and telling his audience that they could find the content — including a members-only segment he called “Trans Tuesday” — on the Daily Wire’s website. Owens, meanwhile, plowed ahead with vicious attacks against gay people

Content from before Owens’ previous suspension featured accusations that anybody who shopped at the retail chain Target was “gay” and “a pervert,” claims that “transgenderism” is “a cancer and we should fight it,” and boasts that the podcaster could beat up a nonbinary naval service member. YouTube’s hate speech policies say content that “repeatedly targets, insults, and abuses a group based on protected group status across multiple uploads” may lead to penalties. 

YouTube’s enforcement of its policies related to the LGBTQ community has been uneven. In April, after repeatedly targeting TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, Daily Wire personality and “What is a Woman” filmmaker Matt Walsh had advertiser revenue stripped from his channel, only to have it restored 90 days later despite Walsh publicly vowing not to change his behavior.

The banner image on Owens’ YouTube channel advertises her show as streaming live on DailyWire+, Rumble, and X (formerly Twitter). YouTube, notably, is missing from that list.

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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Political attacks on Trans youth are the tip of the iceberg 

“This is a coordinated & organized effort to erase not just trans people, but LGBTQ people from being able to publicly live our lives”

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

By Rebecca Farmer | BOULDER, Colo. – The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released Banning Medical Care and Legal Recognition for Transgender People, the fifth in MAP’s report series, Under Fire: The War on LGBTQ People in America. 

The report details how the dramatic increase in political attacks on transgender youth are just the tip of the iceberg and part of a coordinated effort to eliminate transgender people of all ages from public life.

This year alone, state legislatures introduced more than 725 anti-LGBTQ bills shattering previous records. In 2023, more states enacted bans on transgender youth medical care than passed bans on marriage equality in 2004, one of the worst years in the fight for marriage equality.

“While most of the public focus has been on recent efforts to ban medical care for transgender youth, these attacks are part of a much larger, coordinated effort to try to erase transgender people from public life entirely,” said Logan Casey, Senior Policy Researcher & Advisor at MAP.  “Anti-LGBTQ extremists want to make it impossible for transgender people to be ourselves and to be legally recognized according to our gender identity.”  

This latest report in the Under Fire series from MAP identifies five core tactics opponents are using in their attempts to erase transgender people from public life: 

Tactic 1: Banning health care for transgender youth

The pace at which states are banning access to this care is remarkable. For example, prior to 2021, no states banned medical care for transgender youth.

Today, 22 states have enacted this kind of ban – 19 of them during this year alone. Currently more than 1 in 3 transgender youth live in a state that bans or severely restricts health care for them.  These kinds of laws have been enacted in all but two states in the U.S. South, leaving transgender youth in nearly an entire region without access to medically necessary care.  

Tactic 2: Banning health care or severely restricting health care for transgender adults

Bill introduced across the country are more explicitly targeting transgender adults’ access to care. Nearly one-third of youth-focused medical care ban bills introduced in 2023 would also limit health care for at least some transgender adults.

Some legislation seeks to ban healthcare for transgender adults by redefining a minor to include adults up to age 26.

At least nine states explicitly exclude transgender-related healthcare from Medicaid coverage for adults as well as youth. Some states also ban coverage transgender-related care in state health insurance plans.  Roughly one in seven bills attacking transgender health care included provisions to ban or restrict coverage in private health insurance.  

Tactic 3: Limiting transgender people’s ability to live openly and participate in daily life

Anti-LGBTQ forces are increasingly targeting the ability of transgender people to live openly and safely as themselves throughout their daily lives. This includes making it impossible or extremely difficult to obtain accurate ID, banning the use of bathrooms, restricting social transition, and more.  

ID documents: Four states ban people from updating the gender marker on their birth certificates and another 12 states impose invasive and overly burdensome medical requirements.  

Bathroom bans: Nine states now ban transgender people from using bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity. 

New bans, especially in Florida, are expanding their scope to apply not only to schools but also to other government-owned buildings and spaces; Florida’s ban includes major airports, sports arenas, and much more.  

Forced outing: Five states now require schools to out transgender students to their families, often regardless of whether this might put the child at risk of harm.  

Opponents are also working to overturn the existing but limited protections for transgender people, while also working to enact new ways to remove opportunities for legal recognition.

Just in 2023, four states have enacted a new kind of law that defines “sex” throughout state law to allow discrimination against transgender and nonbinary people. Two additional states’ governors issued executive orders to the same effect.  

Fewer than half of states have explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. Some states are working to undermine those existing protections with religious exemptions

Tactic 5: Criminalizing and harassing supporters of transgender people

Even supporters of transgender equality are being targeted. Healthcare providers for transgender people are facing loss of their licenses or even criminal penalties for providing medically necessary care that is endorsed by major medical associations.

In five states, it is now a felony to provide best-practice medical care to transgender youth.  Dozens of hospitals have reported receiving bomb threats and other serious harassment for providing medically necessary care to transgender youth.  

Many bills in recent years also target parents who support their transgender children. Florida legislation introduced in 2023 would have allowed the state to remove children from their families if the parents were even suspected of supporting them in receiving best-practice medical care. 

“Make no mistake – this swift and coordinated attack on transgender people in the U.S. is part of a larger war on LGBTQ people,” said Casey. “It’s essential that we see beyond one bill or policy to understand the broader scope of what is occurring. This is a coordinated and organized effort to try to erase not just transgender people, but LGBTQ people overall, from being able to publicly live our lives.” 

The entire “Under Fire” series is available here

About MAP: MAP’s mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life. www.mapresearch.org

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Intrusive legislation intimidates & drives self-censorship in schools

Between January 2021 and June 2023, 392 educational intimidation bills have been introduced in state legislatures

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High School students during classes break. (Photo Credit: Flagler Schools/Facebook)

By Suzanne Trimel | WASHINGTON – A wave of state legislation sweeping the nation is creating the conditions to intimidate educators into self-censorship in schools, according to a new PEN America report released this past month.

Educational Intimidation: How ‘Parental Rights’ Legislation Undermines the Freedom to Learn examines the rise of what PEN America has dubbed “educational intimidation bills,” a category of legislation that has the effect of prompting self-censorship in schools through indirect mechanisms, rather than direct edicts. Under the guise of advancing “parental rights,” nearly 400 of these bills have been introduced that risk empowering ideologues to intervene in the curricular and extracurricular decisions of teachers, librarians, and school administrators, overriding the judgment of educators and the views of the majority.

These intimidation bills are distinct from “educational gag orders,” a class of bills previously documented by PEN America that directly ban what can be taught in classrooms, targeting discussions of race, racism, gender, aspects of American history and other “prohibited” or “divisive” concepts. Intimidation bills compound the crisis in public education, casting a chilling effect through new tools that radically expand the avenues for lone parents, government officials, and citizens to monitor and exert control over pedagogical decisions.

“This rising tide of educational intimidation exposes the movement that cloaks itself in the language of ‘parental rights’ for what it really is: a smoke screen for efforts to suppress teaching and learning and hijack public education in America,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of Free Expression and Education programs at PEN America. “The opportunity for parents to inspect and object to school curricula is already commonly granted in public school systems, as it should be. But this spate of provisions dramatically expands these powers in ways that are designed to spur schools and educators to self-censor. These bills risk turning every classroom into an ideological battleground, forcing teachers out of the profession, and jeopardizing the future of millions of students.”

In its Index of Educational Intimidation Bills that accompanies the report, PEN America has identified 392 educational intimidation bills introduced in state legislatures between January 2021 and June 2023, 39 of which have passed into law in 19 states. The organization catalogs 12 types of educational intimidation provisions, including those that:

  • would require teachers to post all instructional or professional development materials on public websites, making it easy for any citizen to object;
  • would restrict students’ library access or make it easier for individual parents to get books banned for all students;
  • invite parents to opt students into or out of certain content, creating unwieldy “a la carte” curricula that risk defeating the unifying purpose of public schools;
  • expand the concept of “obscenity” beyond its well-established legal definition, opening educators and librarians up to criminal penalties;
  • would deputize teachers with requirements to police students’ gender expression.

The report documents how many of these laws and policies are already responsible for educational censorship across the country. An art teacher in Tennessee no longer teaches about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo or artist and AIDS activist Keith Haring because of the state’s HB 529, which requires teachers to alert parents to any LGBTQ+ content so they can withdraw their children from the lesson. Fear of discipline or criminal liability under some of these new state laws has driven school districts to ban books with sexual or LGBTQ+ content, from Missouri, to Virginia, to Florida, to, most recently, Iowa.

Laws and policies in Florida, Indiana, and at least seven other states require that parents be notified of any significant changes to their child’s gender expression or sexual orientation, turning teachers into what North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called in a veto message, “the pronoun police.” One school district in Florida even banned ‘Safe Space’ stickers, because the presence of a student in such a space could “trigger a duty” for the school staff to notify a parent of their child’s “well-being.” Such measures, argue the report’s authors, compromise the role of educators and schools in supporting students and exercising professional judgment to engage families constructively in issues affecting their children.

Among the key findings from the report include:

  • Between January 2021 and June 2023, 392 educational intimidation bills have been introduced in state legislatures, 39 of which have passed into law. An additional nine policies have been adopted via executive order or enacted as part of state regulatory policy.
  • At least 19 states have passed educational intimidation bills or adopted them via state policy.
  • These bills overwhelmingly emanate from conservative legislators: 377 of the 392 have been introduced by Republicans.
  • Over 80 bills would force teachers to monitor students’ gender expression, forcibly outing students to their parents regardless whether educators believe that such a disclosure is warranted, or how it will be received. Outing provisions are in effect, by law or by executive order, in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Utah, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
  • Of the intimidation bills introduced in 2023, 45 percent have an anti-LGBTQ+ provision, including the forced outing of students.
  • Missouri (31) has introduced the most educational intimidation bills in the nation, followed by Texas (21), Oklahoma (20), South Carolina (18), Indiana (17) and Mississippi (16).

The ideological motivation behind the bills is another key focus. As the authors explain, the bills are based on model legislation produced by a small group of conservative think tanks and activist groups, with the vast majority sponsored by Republican legislators, sometimes in concert with, or following other legislation that includes more direct censorious prohibitions. One bill proposed in Kansas was described by a supportive lawmaker as a “slick little way” of preventing critical race theory from being taught in classrooms.

The report authors express grave concern about increasing “experimentation and copycatting” across state lines to introduce these laws. Bills that fail during one legislative session are often reintroduced or recycled in the next, and in the current political climate, even provisions that are less extreme in their wording can be interpreted or applied in ways that advance censorship. Similar policies are also being adopted at the district level, making the true impact difficult to quantify.

“These bills are not what they seem,” Friedman continued. “They are the next phase in a years-long campaign to incite panic and impose ideological strictures on schools. Education in a democracy must be characterized by openness and curiosity, by the freedom to read, learn, and think. These bills strike at that foundation, in novel, sometimes subtle, yet potentially irrevocable ways. Their spread should not be taken lightly.”

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The preceding article was previously published by PEN America and is republished with permission.

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New poll shows massive backlash to anti-LGBTQ school policies

A new Navigator Research Poll shows that book bans, school sports policies, and Don’t Say Gay bills are wildly unpopular

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South Lakes High School, Reston, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Fairfax County Schools/Facebook)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Over the past two years, over a dozen states—all under Republican governance—have enacted policies that forcibly disclose the gender identities of transgender youth to their families, ban LGBTQ+ literature in educational settings, and prohibit educators from discussing LGBTQ+ topics.

Driven by a wave of right-wing, anti-trans sentiment, teachers have been labeled as “groomers” and terminated for even showing incidental support for LGBTQ+ people, such as showing classroom films with LGBTQ+ characters in them. At the same time, books with LGBTQ+ themes are facing scrutiny, and students are subjected to exhaustive investigations into their gender—often instigated by parents who question the legitimacy of a transgender student’s athletic victory.

Now, a new Navigator Research survey reveals significant public backlash against the GOP’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues in schools.

Navigator Research surveyed 1,000 registered voters between August 17-August 21 to ask about education policy in general. When asked about the top three issues voters care about, only 28% listed “being exposed to woke issues about gender and race in school” as one of their top three issues. Instead, topics such as safety from gun violence, education quality, and providing mental healthcare in school garnered widespread support.

See the survey results on education priorities here:

The survey delved into specific policies enacted in conservative states, revealing broad public disapproval. Policies involving book bans and mandatory genital inspections for youth athletes in order to confirm their sex were especially unpopular, with 92% and 84% opposition, respectively. Additional measures, such as the prohibition of Advanced Placement African-American History, suspensions for teachers who show support for LGBTQ+ students, and bans on classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity, also faced strong opposition—each garnering over 65% disapproval in the survey. Opposition was even widespread among parents, who opposed each of these policies.

See the survey results on specific policies here:

These findings pose a significant challenge for conservatives who are doubling down on an anti-LGBTQ+ platform. When considered alongside other polls, such as a Fox News survey in which 86% of respondents identified attacks on transgender children as “a problem,” the data suggest that Republicans are experiencing substantial backlash. This is particularly relevant given the considerable focus they have placed on targeting transgender individuals in schools and in personal lives. According to the Navigator survey, a mere 34% of voters indicated trust in the Republican Party on these issues. Democrats currently enjoy a 10-point advantage on matters related to race and gender in educational settings, buoyed by strong support from independent voters.

Anti-trans politics have not been successful for Republicans in recent elections, either. In Georgia, Herschel Walker featured an anti-trans swimmer, Riley Gaines, in his final election ads to try to make the race about transgender issues – he lost his election bid. Similar defeats happened in ArizonaMichiganWisconsin, and Pennsylvania, where millions were spent on anti-trans election ads failed to bring about Republican victories. Most recently, Ohio Republicans spent $2,000,000 on anti-trans ads to try to convince voters that voting no on a constitutional amendment ballot initiative designed to make abortion protections harder to pass would actually lead to “trans surgeries for kids.” The referendum suffered a massive double-digit defeat.

Despite this, Republicans persist in prioritizing anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ policies in their campaigns. To date, 16 states have imposed restrictions on discussing LGBTQ+ topics in schools, while 23 states have enacted sports bans targeting transgender youth. In Georgia, a teacher was recently dismissed for reading the Scholastic Kids book “My Shadow Is Purple” in a showy hearing featuring school administrators grilling her support for LGBTQ+ students. Similarly, in Florida, a teacher lost her job simply for screening a Disney film that included an LGBTQ+ character. In Oklahoma, students who wish to participate in sports must complete “biological sex affidavits.” Just this past weekend, Iowa teachers started distributing legal notices and forms to parents seeking permission for nickname use, such as “Joe” for a student named Joseph. These policies starkly contrast with the voter sentiments revealed in the survey, signaling a discord between public opinion and legislative action.

There are indications that Republicans may be recognizing the political liability associated with these issues. During a recent debate, when GOP primary candidate Nikki Haley was questioned about transgender individuals in schools, she quickly shifted the conversation to reading remediation. Other candidates also refrained from extensively discussing the topic, largely sidestepping the issue altogether. It’s probable that their internal polling aligns with recent external surveys, revealing both the topic’s limited traction and a notable absence of strong support. Nevertheless, the policies continue to be heavily pushed by Republicans in state legislatures, and voters will see their record when they do head to the ballot boxes in 2024.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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40% of Florida parents surveyed want to leave over ‘Don’t Say Gay’

90% of parents who disagreed felt that it provoked hostility toward LGBTQ people, while 68% of those in favor felt it protected parents’ right

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Students gather to protest 'Don't Say Gay' law at a high school in suburban Orlando, May 2022. (Photo Credit: Will Larkins)

LOS ANGELES – New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and Clark University finds 40% of Florida parents surveyed said they would like to move out of Florida—20% very much so and 19% somewhat—because of the state’s Don’t Say Gay law.

Almost 11% said they were very likely to move in the next two years, and another 6% said that it was somewhat likely. The most common barriers to relocating outside of Florida included employment factors, caregiving responsibilities, and financial limitations.

On July 1, 2022, Florida’s HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the Don’t Say Gay law, went into effect. The bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity through 3rd grade. In May 2023, the Florida legislature expanded the original law to ban classroom instruction on LGBTQ issues through 8th grade.

Using data gathered from a diverse sample of 106 parents in Florida, researchers examined their perspectives on the state’s Don’t Say Gay law and its expansion. One-third disagreed with the law, and 46% disagreed with the expansion. However, almost half agreed with the original law and 43% agreed with its expansion.

There were stark differences in how the parents viewed the state’s Don’t Say Gay law. For instance, 90% of parents who disagreed with the law felt that it provoked hostility toward LGBTQ people, while 68% of those in favor of the law felt it protected parents’ rights.

It is important to understand the diverse viewpoints Florida parents have around the state’s Don’t Say Gay law,” said study author Abbie E. Goldberg, Professor of Psychology at Clark University and Affiliated Researcher at the Williams Institute. “These parents live in the same neighborhoods and send their children to the same schools. They have the power to work across differences to build strong communities that support the well-being of all children.”

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

  • Two-thirds of Democrats and more than half of Independents disagreed with the Don’t Say Gay law. In addition, 80% of Democrats and 60% of Independents did not approve of the expansion to older children. Almost 90% of Republicans approved of both the original law and its expansion.
  • Parents with a college degree or higher were significantly less likely to agree with the Don’t Say Gay law than those with less than a bachelor’s degree.
  • Parents with LGBTQ friends and family were significantly less likely to agree with the law than those without LGBTQ people in their lives.
  • About half of the parents surveyed said that the Don’t Say Gay law targets LGBTQ students, othering them (50%), provokes hostility against the LGBTQ community (47%), heightens tensions between teachers (46%), and protects parents’ rights and empowers parents (45%).
  • In the year after Don’t Say Gay was enacted
    • 19% of parents surveyed said they observed the removal of books from school libraries and classrooms, and 13% observed the removal of signifiers of LGBTQ inclusivity such as Safe Space stickers.
    • 12% of participants said that their children had expressed fear, anxiety, or avoidance of school related to the law, and 9% expressed fears about the future living in Florida.
    • 16% of participants said that they were more involved in their children’s school (e.g., to make sure their voice was heard)
    • 11% of participants had participated in advocacy against Don’t Say Gay legislation, while 5% had participated in advocacy in support of it.

Read the report

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Assessing the damage: Reviewing changed state LGBTQ policies

While MAP tracked more than 725 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 2023, the majority of those specifically targeted transgender people

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California's capitol dome with Pride flag flying. (Photo Credit: State of California)

By Movement Advancement Project | BOULDER, Colo. – The past three years have brought a dramatic — and still ongoing—escalation of attacks on LGBTQ people across virtually every aspect of our lives. Now that most states’ legislative sessions have adjourned for the year, MAP is taking a look at just how far states’ LGBTQ policies have changed so far in 2023, drawing on the more than 50 policies we track in our LGBTQ Equality Maps.

The policy areas discussed below are just a few of the many policies affecting LGBTQ people’s lives; visit our Equality Maps to learn more.

Dramatic Escalation in Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

In 2021, new records were set for the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced and enacted into law by state legislatures. In 2022, those records were broken.In 2023, those records were further shattered, when state legislatures introduced more than 725 anti-LGBTQ bills — with more than 75 signed into law so far.

This more than doubles the numbers from just last year. MAP’s report series, Under Fire: The War on LGBTQ People in Americaconnects the dots between the various political attacks that seek to undermine equality and erase LGBTQ people from public life.



Significant Backsliding in Legal Equality For Transgender People

MAP’s Equality Maps track over 50 LGBTQ-related laws and policies, assigning scores for each policy and creating rankings for each state.Looking at MAP’s Gender Identity Policy Tally, which focuses on laws primarily affecting transgender people, at the beginning of 2023, 14 states earned a “Negative” rank, the lowest category in MAP’s rubric.

By mid-year, 20 states were in the “Negative” category, illustrating the swift and dramatic impacts of this year’s legislative session.Put another way, at the beginning of this year, 25% of transgender people lived in “Negative” category states, but by July 24, more than one-third (34%) of transgender people live in these states.

The map on the left shows the country as of January 1, 2023, before this year’s legislative sessions. The map on the right shows states as of July 24, 2023, following the conclusion of most states’ legislative sessions.



While MAP tracked more than 725 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 2023, the majority of those specifically targeted transgender people, along with the majority of the 75+ bills that were signed into law so far this year. The stark difference is reflected in our snapshot of state-by-state LGBTQ laws for sexual orientation as compared to gender identity: only four states currently have a “Negative” rank on our Sexual Orientation Policy Tally, compared to 20 states with a “Negative” rank on our Gender Identity Tally.

Extremist Attacks on Transgender Health Care

In 2023 alone, 18 states enacted new bans on medically necessary health care for transgender youth, and several more states may yet enact a ban this year. In total, 21 states have enacted this kind of law. At the beginning of 2023, just three states had enacted this kind of law, and prior to 2021 no bans of this kind existed.

Currently, nearly one in three (32%) transgender youth live in these states. Five states’ bans make it a felony crime to provide best practice medical care to transgender youth.

However, not all these bans are currently in effect. In fact, lawsuits have been filed against these bans in at least 12 of these states, and to date all decisions except one have been victories for transgender youth and their families.

Additional information —CitationsExpanded details on state bans of medical care for transgender people. This includes information about what each state’s ban covers, the status of litigation challenging the laws, which are in effect, a timeline of when the laws were passed, and which governors issued a veto.

MAP reportLGBTQ Policy Spotlight: Bans on Medical Care for Transgender People
Targeting Transgender People in Bathrooms

In 2023, six states enacted new bathroom bans, including Florida’s new ban that far and away exceeds others in its extremism and scope. Florida’s ban applies to not only government buildings but also all publicly owned or leased places, ranging from major airports and convention centers to public parks, schools and colleges, and more.

Florida’s law also carries potential criminal penalties, which means that a transgender person could face jail time for using the bathroom at a university, during a sports game, while at the DMV, or even during a layover at a Florida airport.

Additionally, in 2023 four states (indicated on the map by the yellow caution icon), have enacted an entirely new type of law, defining “sex” throughout state law in ways that explicitly allow for and enable discrimination against transgender people.

While these laws are not themselves bathroom bans, they may be used to allow bathroom bans (and other discriminatory policies) moving forward.

Banning Transgender Children From Playing Sports

In 2023, six states enacted new bans on transgender people’s ability to play school sports according to their gender identity, for a total of 22 states. Two of these states (Alabama and Texas) expanded their existing K-12 bans to also apply to college, and the four other states (Wyoming, Kansas, North Dakota, and Missouri) enacted entirely new bans.

As a result, 31% of transgender youth live in states that ban them from playing school sports.

Positive Developments

While 2023 has been a record-shattering year, including stark backsliding in legal equality for transgender people in many states across the country, there have also been important and positive developments.

For example, in response to the rapidly spreading attacks on transgender healthcare across the country, so far in 2023, 11 states and the District of Columbia took action to protect access to gender-affirming health care.

Now, a total of 14 states and D.C. have some kind of transgender healthcare “shield” laws, protecting both providers and recipients of gender-affirming care.

Looking Forward

As some states continue their legislative sessions, MAP will continue tracking these laws and policies affecting LGBTQ people. Our Equality Maps are updated and maintained in real time and can always provide the most up-to-date picture of the policy landscape shaping LGBTQ people’s lives.

(Please note that the count of bills and the maps shown here are accurate as of July 24, 2023. Due to the nature of legislative sessions, these can change quickly. Please refer to our Equality Maps, which are updated in real-time, for up-to-date details.)

Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight, and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.

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Research/Study

40% of transgender adults in the U.S. have attempted suicide

“Evidence-based interventions are needed to mitigate the risk of serious mental health outcomes among transgender people”

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Los Angeles Blade/TRANSPOP graphic

LOS ANGELES – A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that 81% of transgender adults in the U.S. have thought about suicide, 42% of transgender adults have attempted it, and 56% have engaged in non-suicidal self-injury over their lifetimes.
 
Using data from the U.S. Transgender Population Health Survey (TransPop), researchers examined the prevalence of hazardous drinking, problematic drug use, serious psychological distress, suicidality, and non-suicidal self-injury between transgender and cisgender adults. Results from this study, which is the first national probability sample of transgender people in the U.S., support previously reported findings that showed significant disparities in health outcomes for transgender as compared with cisgender Americans.
 
While transgender and cisgender adults reported similar rates of hazardous drinking and problematic drug use, transgender people were significantly more likely to experience poor mental health during their lifetimes. Compared to cisgender adults, transgender adults were seven times more likely to contemplate suicide, four times more likely to attempt it, and eight times more likely to engage in non-suicidal self-injury.
 
Notably, transgender nonbinary adults reported higher rates of harmful substance use and poor mental health than transgender men and women.
 
“The rates of suicidal ideation and self-injury among transgender people are alarming—particularly for transgender nonbinary adults,” said study author Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “A lack of societal recognition and acceptance of gender identities outside of the binary of cisgender man or woman and increasing politically motivated attacks on transgender individuals, increase stigma and prejudice and related exposure to minority stress, which contributes to the high rates of substance use and suicidality we see among transgender people.”

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

  • Nearly one-third of transgender individuals reported hazardous drinking (28%) and problematic drug use (31%).
  • Among transgender adults, 44% reported recent suicidal ideation, 7% reported a recent suicide attempt, and 21% reported recent non-suicidal self-injury.
  • The majority (82%) of transgender people have accessed formal mental health care, compared to 47% of cisgender adults. About one-quarter (26%) of transgender people sought support from other sources such as religious and spiritual leaders and alternative medicine practitioners, compared to 20% of cisgender adults.
  • Transgender nonbinary people were four times more likely to engage in hazardous drinking compared to transgender women.
  • Compared to transgender men, transgender nonbinary people were four times more likely to report problematic drug use, three times more likely to experience serious psychological distress, six times more likely to have recently thought about suicide, and four times more likely to have engaged in non-suicidal self-injury at some point in their lives.

“Evidence-based interventions are needed to mitigate the risk of serious mental health outcomes among transgender people,” said lead author Jeremy D. Kidd, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University. “This might include increasing access to gender-affirming care, or improving transgender community connectedness, which are related to lower rates of suicidality.” 

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