Republicans are no stranger to queerphobia and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation. But in the last year alone, conservatives at the local and state levels have pushed a stunning number of anti-queer bills, some of which have already been signed into law. Much of this legislation has targeted transgender folks, including trans youth, especially when it comes to access to safe, gender-affirming health care and sports.
Conservatives have consistently presented trans people—especially trans women—as predators, which becomes immediately familiar if you revisit anti-trans arguments about bathroom access that were popular several years ago. LGBTQ+ people have been branded as creeps and predators going decades back, actually, and thanks to conservatives like Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, that rhetoric is getting a revival. According to conservatives, young people shouldn’t be exposed to LGBTQ+ topics or identities in the classroom, and as DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw spewed, anyone who opposes such guidelines is basically a predator. Yikes!
And it’s not only Florida. A handful of comparable Don’t Say Gay bills are popping up around the country. And no matter where you live, if you watch Fox News, you’ve probably seen grown adults go on air to ... argue that male teachers are predators and pontificate about why men aren’t beating up teachers who discuss LGBTQ+ issues. Yes, really. Let’s see some of these horrifying moments below.
RELATED: Chris Murphy just showed every progressive how to call out transphobes like Marjorie Taylor Greene
A recent example on Fox News comes from a conversation between host Mark Levin and writer David Mamet, where Mamet boldly suggested that male teachers are “inclined” to pedophilia, as highlighted by the New Civil Rights Movement.
Listen and subscribe to Daily Kos Elections’ The Downballot podcast with David Nir and David Beard
“We have to take back control,” he stated. “There’s no community control of schools. What we have is um, kids being not only indoctrinated but groomed in a very real sense by people who are … Whether they know it or not, sexual predators. Are they abusing the kids physically? No, I don’t think so. But they’re abusing them mentally and using sex to do so.
“This has always been a problem with education. Teachers are inclined, particularly men, because men are predators, to pedophilia. And that’s why there were strict community strictures about it, thank god. So this started to break down when the school said, ‘You know what? We need to teach kids about sex because what if they don’t do it at home?’”
Surprising no one, he offered no studies or research to back up his outrageous claims. The use of the word “grooming,” of course, is a signal that we’re really talking about here is gay people (and particularly gay men) manipulating and abusing youth. It suggests that an event talking about sexual identity or having sex ed is an opportunity to have some kind of sexual activity or engagement, when it’s actually just about educating on sexual health, identities, and (hopefully) important topics like consent, how to report abuse, and so on.
Painting cisgender men as predatory also feeds into the narrative that trans women are actually cis men pretending to be women in order to access women and girls in places like the bathroom and locker room. It’s all connected.
As highlighted over at Media Matters, Tucker Carlson recently wondered aloud why fathers aren’t storming classrooms and beating up teachers who talk about identity.
“Teachers pushing sex values on your third grader, why don’t you go in and thrash the teacher?” Carlson said in part while blabbering on Fox News. “Like this is an agent of the government pushing someone else’s values on your kid about sex, like where’s the pushback?”
So now it’s cool to incite violence against educators? Though folks were already physically attacking teachers over mask mandates, so it’s really nothing new in this day and age. And it’s especially not new from Fox—but it’s still disgusting and shameful.
At the end of the day, grooming is a serious form of abuse and sexual violence. It is never okay for an adult to coerce or manipulate a young person, whether or not that involves emotional, physical, or sexual contact. It’s not okay, period. The characterization of LGBTQ+ people as being more likely to be predators or the idea that queer people only want to talk to youth about sexual orientation or gender identity is to “turn” them queer is inaccurate, offensive, and hateful. Nothing backs these claims except for the hate of the person spewing them.
And all the while, conservatives are eager to change laws so they can marry minors. But again, they want to call us the predators …
Sign the petition: Demand the Senate pass the Equality Act and protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination.