Ten Anti-LGBTQ Bigots Lead National Hate Campaign
The vast majority of Americans support protections for the LGBTQ+ community but a small cadre of 10 people, including two far left members of Congress, is leading a coordinated campaign of hateful tweets against LGBTQ+ people that is reaching millions of people.
A century of LGBTQ+ activism could come to a screeching halt and be largely reversed if Republicans regain the House, with this group of 10 reactionaries leading the way, according to a landmark study, “Social Media’s Role In Amplifying Dangerous Lies About LGBTQ+ People,” by the non-profit, international Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Human Rights Campaign.
The report noted that the 10 individuals promoting the hateful grooming narrative, were responsible for tweets estimated to have reached Twitter users 47,936,00 times, equivalent to 66 percent of the total estimated number of Twitter users reached by the 500 most-viewed hateful tweets.
They are, listed in order, with the number of times the tweets have been seen:
1. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., 17,954,000.
2. James Lindsay, 11,792,000.
3. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., 7,000,000.
4. Chaya Raichik, 2,695,000.
5. Tim Young, 2,205,000.
6. Christina Pushaw, 2,000,000.
7. Frank ‘Drew’ Hernandez, 1,856,000.
8. Chad Prather, 844,000.
9. Jack Posobiec, 839,000.
10. “Matt’s Idea Shop,” 751,000.
Greene has 929,979 Twitter followers. A far-right conspiracy theorist, she has promoted the QAnon theory that trump was in an imagined battle against a cabal of Satan-worshiping, child-abusing Democrats. She is a virulent supporter of trump’s lie that he was a victim of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Greene is known for her anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, recently calling for an end to Pride month. Last year, she hung a poster outside her office mocking transgender children. On March 30, Greene tweeted that anyone against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill is “pro-child predator.” The tweet was viewed an estimated 3 million times.
Lindsay, with 307,139 Twitter followers, is an author and right-wing personality who has embraced alt-right terminology such as the term “Cultural Marxism” and argued that sex education classes are a Marxist project to wage war on objective reality.
In a recent podcast appearance, Lindsay repeated conspiracy theories about Democrat-run re-education camps for the unvaccinated. Between Jan. 1 and July 27, 2022, he posted at least 689 tweets using the derogatory phrase “OK groomer,” which generated upwards of 35 million estimated views. One tweet by Lindsay labeled the World Health Organization as a “groomer” for celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. It received an estimated 79,000 views.
Boebert has 1,414,836 Twitter followers and has described the Equality Act as promoting the “supremacy of gays and lesbians and transvestites” above all other Americans and claimed that the left would “imprison” and “take [the] children” of anyone who disagreed with them about it.
The Equality Act is a bill pending in Congress to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit and jury service.
Boebert has used Twitter to mock gender non-conforming and transgender people. In one tweet, she promoted the “grooming” narrative by accusing the left of grooming children because a school used an LGBTQ+ flag and an illustration of a pregnant man. The tweet received an estimated 7 million views.
Raichik, with 1,304,747 Twitter followers, is a right-wing activist who runs the “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account, which has amassed a following of 1.3 million in just two years. Raichik has a history of targeting LGBTQ+ teachers in an attempt to have them fired for teaching about LGBTQ+ issues. Her posts have also been linked to offline threats and intimidation tactics. After being featured in one of her posts, Democratic California state Sen. Scott Wiener received an email saying there was a bomb in his house. She promoted the “grooming” narrative by labeling Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Tiara Mack, a “groomer.” Mack is the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the Rhode Island Senate and has championed LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education. The tweet was viewed an estimated 695,000 times.
Young, a comedian, author and Fox News commentator, has 547,716 Twitter followers. He has downplayed the seriousness of the Capitol insurrection, tweeting that Alec Baldwin has killed more people than the Capitol rioters. In a tweet, Young promotes the “grooming” narrative by accusing Los Angeles County officials of only wanting to travel to places they can groom children. The tweet followed the county’s move to ban official county business travel to Florida and Texas in response to new anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Young’s tweet received an estimated 1 million views.
Pushaw, who has 166,135 Twitter followers, is the Press Secretary for Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill into law. She took part in an online forum about the bill hosted by a convicted participant in the Capitol insurrection. In March, she called for the bill to be renamed the “Anti-Grooming Bill.” In her tweet that reached an estimated 2 million people, Pushaw said that anyone who opposes the bill is a groomer or groomer sympathizer.
Hernandez has 253,921 Twitter followers and hosts a daily Internet show, “Frontlines,” for Turning Point USA, a right-wing organization targeting students. Hernandez livestreamed protests in Kenosha, Wis., where right wing, white supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse shot multiple demonstrators. Hernandez later served as a defense witness for Rittenhouse. Hernandez has described members of the LGBTQ+ community as “mentally ill” and referred to Pride month as “groomer month.”
Prather, who has 288,892 Twitter followers, is a right-wing Internet personality and political commentator. He hosts a show on BlazeTV, the media outlet run by former Fox News presenter and conspiracist, Glenn Beck. In one tweet, Prather brands anyone apposing the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill as groomers. It was viewed an estimated 844,000 times.
Posobiec, an alt-right personality, conspiracy theorist and provocateur, has 1,801,416 Twitter followers. He has promoted conspiracies including Pizzagate, the false claim that leading Democratic officials were running a child-sex trafficking ring. In 2017, he was outed as the leader of a campaign to smear trump protestors as sexual abusers via the “Rape Melania” disinformation stunt. Posobiec was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours for inciting violence after targeting Disney with “grooming” accusations.
Matt of Matt’s Idea Shop, has 64,532 Twitter followers. A right-wing Internet personality, Matt, whose full name is not reported, writes for the Daily Wire, a conservative news website known for spreading misinformation. Matt also has downplayed the Capitol insurrection by comparing it to Black Lives Matter protests. In one tweet, Matt brads the actor Don Cheadle a “groomer” for wearing a T-shirt reading “protect trans kids.” The tweet reached an estimated 751,000 Twitter users.
The report refers to a “growing wave of violence, hate and demonization targeting LGBTQ+ people in the United States and around the world.”
“Opportunistic, malignant people often seek to demonize others who are not like them. This includes individual trolls, ‘commentators’ seeking to monetize the attention performative controversy generates, and even famous and powerful politicians, seeking to generate electoral advantage by activating fringe bases,” according to the report.
The report had a number of key findings, including that the 500 most influential hateful “grooming” tweets were seen 72 million times and that “grooming” tweets from just 10 key figures were viewed 48 million times. It found that Twitter is failing to act on 99 percent of hateful “grooming” tweets and that Facebook is failing to remove 98 percent of “grooming” ads. Meta, owner of Facebook, is seen to be profiting from ads that promote the “grooming” narrative, the report found.
“This dangerous rhetoric is being pushed by a small, extremist group of politicians and their allies who, together, are driving a coordinated and concerted campaign to attack LGBTQ+ kids in an effort to rile up extreme members of their base ahead of the midterm elections,” the report said.
The report said the “astonishing visibility” of the posts is a direct result of Twitter’s failure to enforce its own policies banning anti-LGBTQ+ slurs. Facebook and Instagram also carried 59 paid ads attacking LGBTQ+ people and despite similar policies to Twitter prohibiting anti-LGBTQ+ hate content on both social media platforms, only one ad was removed.
A huge increase of 406 percent in hateful, “grooming” comments were noted between January and July of 2022, after Florida’s passage, led by DeSantis, of the “Don’t say gay or trans” bill. The bill equated sexual education with pedophile “groomers.”
DeSantis’s press secretary, Pushaw, tweeted on March 4 that the bill should be described as “anti-grooming” and that those against it are “probably” groomers or at least “don’t denounce the grooming of 4–8 year old children.” The tweet was viewed an estimated 2 million times and since her tweet, the phrase “anti-grooming bill” has been tweeted 44,028 times.
“This wave of hate has centered around the false and baseless lie that LGBTQ+ people ‘groom’ children. This, we know, has driven offline hate crimes,” the report said.
The report noted that nearly one in five of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias, and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, particularly Black transgender women, since the center began tracking such violence.
Anti-LGBTQ+ stigma is driving alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. More than 60 percent of LGBTQ+ youth said their mental health has deteriorated as a result of recent efforts to restrict access to things like gender-affirming care for transgender youth. And it’s worse for LGBTQ+ youth of color, who are more likely to attempt suicide (27 percent) than other LGBTQ+ high schoolers (22 percent) and non-LGBTQ+ high schoolers (5 percent).
The dog whistle topic of LGBTQ+ leads the Republican agenda. On the eve of mid-term elections that could radically re-shape Congress, Republicans last week issued their vague plan for the future, dubbed “Commitment to America.” It includes further restrictions on LGBTQ+ people, including a proposed “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” which would prohibit transgendered women from competing in women’s sports and “defend fairness by ensuring that only women can compete in women’s sports.”
The bill would to define sex “solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth” for purposes of Title IX in athletics.
Republicans also promise to advance the Parents’ Bill of Rights, legislation that was released last year in part as a response to Republican frustrations about so-called “woke” curriculum and COVID-19–related school closures that were at the center of heated school board meetings. The bill would require school districts to post curriculum publicly, have teachers offer two in-person meetings with parents a year, have parents give consent before any medical exam at school and provide notice of any violence at school.
Legislators in state houses across the country introduced 344 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session, and 25 of them passed.
“These bills and laws attack the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender and non-binary young people and their families, preventing them from accessing age-appropriate medical care, playing sports with their friends, or even talking about who they are in school,” said the report.