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.
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.
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.