Monday, January 23, 2023

Elmo, President Biden, drag queens, New Jersey, & everyone else the right has accused of 'grooming' children

What do trans people, LGBTQ people in general, school boards, libraries, teachers, hospitals, Democrats, the United States Budget, the Department of Agriculture, drag queens, Sesame Street's Elmo, Pizza Hut, State Farm Insurance, and Oreos have in common?

They were all accused by conservatives and right-wingers of "sexually grooming" kids. 

The watchdog site Media Matters compiled an exhaustive list of all of everything and everyone these folks have accused of "sexually grooming" kids.

Grooming is a set of manipulative behaviors abusers use for the explicit purpose of forming a sexual relationship with minors. Right-wing media outlets and figures misappropriated the term, drawing on old and bigoted stereotypes that LGBTQ people are a sexual threat to minors in order to perpetuate hate — turning a once useful term into a de facto anti-LGBTQ slur. 

 This rhetoric supported dangerous bans on life-saving trans healthcare, a directive investigating parents who support their trans children, legislation revoking the parental rights of LGBTQ allies, and vague laws restricting any mention of LGBTQ people in the classroom. The smear has also contributed to a wave of anti-LGBTQ violence — including armed terrorists storming drag queen story hours and family-friendly pride events, death threats against gay politicians, and bomb threats against Children’s Hospitals. 

 Mainstream press perpetuated the smear by platforming its architects in puff-piece profiles and articles framing LGBTQ rights as a political debate. By the time the Associated Press had officially released guidance against uncritically repeating the slur, groomer was already the right’s catchall for the LGBTQ community. 

 And no one is safe from their accusations. Here are some examples.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, conservative “parody” site Babylon Bee’s CEO Seth Dillon, conservative commentators Steven Crowder and Tim Young, Fox News guest Jimmy Failla, and Candace Owens contributed to claims that parents who expose their children to LGBTQ themes or supported their LGBTQ children were themselves groomers. This trend continues to fuel new legislative efforts. Gov. Abbott directed Texas state agencies to investigate parents and medical caregivers of trans youth. Florida Republicans proposed legislation criminalizing adults taking children to drag shows while Republicans in Idaho, Alabama, and Michigan proposed legislation criminalizing guardians providing gender-affirming care to their children.

The Entire LGBTQ Community 

In addition to targeting specific LGBTQ people or groups, right-wing media accounts such as Libs of TikTok, OAN personalities Landon Starbuck and Alison Steinberg, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, right-wing podcasters Tim Pool, Allie Beth Stuckey, Matt Walsh, and Freddy Silva, and conservative commentators Christopher Rufo and Dave Rubin made generalized claims against the entire LGBTQ community. Following a severe uptick in the use of the word groomer on right-wing social media accounts, evidence that the slur contributed to real-world violence against LGBTQ people, and calls for guidance from organizations, including Media Matters, some social media outlets incorporated the slur into their hate speech policies. The Associated Press eventually cautioned against uncritical use of the slur, but on social media, regulation and enforcement remain varied.

Teachers, Schools, School Districts, and School Boards 

Right-wing media figures Libs of TikTok, Tucker Carlson, Jesse Watters, James Lindsay, Christopher Rufo, OAN’s Kara McKinney, and the Daily Wire’s Candace Owens contributed to the false claims that inclusive curriculum, the teachers who support it, and the school boards that fund it were all guilty of sexually grooming children. As a result, multiple teachers and school board members were harassed, threatened, and doxxed after becoming the right’s target of the week. Meanwhile conservative educational organizations who oppose LGBTQ representation in schools began to plan their own counter-curriculums at the state and federal level. Nevertheless, a record number of LGBTQ people ran for school board positions in 2022.


BlazeTV host Chad Prather told OAN that Sesame Street character Elmo was a groomer after the beloved puppet received his COVID-19 vaccine. “I've always said that Elmo is a groomer anyway. They use these puppets to try to influence kids with their agenda.” Prather continued, “This actually should be illegal. You are pushing — I mean, what happens in a month? Is Elmo going to get a vasectomy? How much can we continue to push on this medical tyranny on our kids using a puppet?” 

 The Proposed U.S. Budget 

The groomer slur reached such prevalence that it became a go-to smear for Democratic policies and agendas. In an extreme example, The Blaze’s Daniel Horowitz claimed that Democrats were promoting “grooming throughout the federal budget and international relations budget.” Horowitz did not elaborate. 

The state of New Jersey 

As MMFA’s Mia Gingerich noted, Fox News falsely claimed New Jersey subjected first and second graders to “predatory grooming” and “psychological torture” after the state implemented new, LGBTQ-inclusive student health and physical education standards. The network misleadingly conflated one sample lesson plan from one school district, which was not implemented, with the 2020 state standards in order to malign trans people and rekindle their attacks on comprehensive and inclusive sex education.

Check out the Media Matters article for the complete and long list. It proves that conservatism hasn't been a governing philosophy for YEARS. It's now an "outrage racket" where minds are coddled then manipulated by a slew of fake moral panics for the purpose of cash and clout.

Graphic by Andrea Austria/Media Matters

'Under West Virginia bills, exposing minors to transgender people could be a crime' & other Mon midday news briefs

Under West Virginia bills, exposing minors to transgender people could be a crime​ - I wish I could say I am surprised but that would be a lie. Simply being made aware of trans people shouldn't be seen as a crime. 

Groundbreaking study reveals differences between straight & LGBTQ+ adults during pandemic - Study found that older LGBTQ people were more negatively effected by the COVID pandemic than their heterosexual peers. 

‘Gay’ or ‘queer’? On Twitter, the word debate rages on - We picked the most unnecessary thing to quibble about. To me, it doesn't matter what word is used.