Twitter says slandering LGBTQ people as “groomers” violates its rules. The enforcement has been extremely uneven.
The platform temporarily suspended right-wing CRT alarmist James Lindsay for using the groomer slur, but has let many others slide
Update (7/29/2022): Twitter has removed three of the tweets referenced in this piece — by James Lindsay, Tim Pool, and Jaimee Michell — after it found they violated its policies against hateful conduct, which includes a prohibition on baseless accusations of “grooming” against LGBTQ people.
Twitter recently confirmed that harassing LGBTQ people with the baseless “groomer” slur violates its rules against hateful conduct and temporarily suspended “New Discourses” founder James Lindsay for using the slur. The move came after Reddit confirmed that baselessly targeting LGBTQ people with “groomer” slander violates its content policies. TikTok and Meta, parent company to Facebook and Instagram, also say that calling LGBTQ people “groomers” is a violation of their existing policies.
For several months, right-wing media have amplified the harmful idea that the existence of LGBTQ people is a threat to children, without action by Twitter.
Lindsay called the mother of Texas trans activist Kai Shappley a groomer for tweeting that the family was fleeing the state to avoid an investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety for affirming her child.
Chaya Raichik’s Libs of TikTok account, which in March was the top user amplifying “groomer” rhetoric on Twitter, said a gay man upset about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was mad that teachers could no longer “groom” their students.
Jaimee Michell, who runs the account “Gays Against Groomers” and who previously promoted white nationalist content on Instagram as “The Gay Who Strayed,” wrote that “the internet is a dangerous place for kids, especially when you have radical alphabet activists openly grooming them.”
The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, who promoted an anti-trans documentary with unauthorized shirtless photos of trans people including, reportedly, a 15-year-old trans boy, accused an openly gay Democratic state senator who suggested teaching about drag in school of letting his “groomer flag fly.”
Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project, who previously bemoaned the period “in the '50s and '60s when we started to get women out of the home,” called Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel a groomer for saying “drag queens make everything better.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who previously called for vigilante violence against hypothetical trans camp counselors, criticized law enforcement for pursuing protesters at “drag queen groomer shows.”
YouTuber Tim Pool quote-tweeted a video from a drag show in Dallas, writing, “Yes, they are grooming your kids.”
Newsmax’s Jenna Ellis called a man “a groomer” for talking to gay high school students about mental health.
Christian influencer Allie Beth Stuckey implied that queer and trans people are inherently sexual predators, writing, “When you … learn the predatory, pedophlic roots of gender ideology & Queer Theory … it’s easy to see that much of what’s going on can accurately be called grooming.”
Calling people “groomers” because of their LGBTQ identity is dangerous. “Grooming” is a term that allows survivors of child sexual abuse to understand their horrifying experiences. By changing its meaning, right-wing activists are erasing those survivors’ experiences and obfuscating harm by conflating genuine abuse with exposure to the existence of LGBTQ people.
Furthermore, the false suggestion that LGBTQ people are a threat to children is dangerous libel at risk of motivating violence. Three days after Lindsay tweeted “ok groomer” at a public library holding a drag event, a group of Proud Boys showed up with signs accusing librarians of “grooming” and a rifle. Two separate events highlighted by Libs of Tik Tok with similar rhetoric were stormed by extremists including Proud Boys.
Twitter is now saying that the rhetoric that led to these instances violates its rules. That’s a good step. But rather than taking action after an incident that has the potential to turn violent has already occurred, the platform should act now to enforce its stated rules and protect its LGBTQ users.