Conservatives Really Doubling Down On This 'LGBTQ People Are Child-Molesting Groomers' Thing
Last week, Ron DeSantis's spokeswoman Christina Pushaw kicked off a hot new trend in rightwing propaganda: claiming that acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ+ people is "grooming," and that this is what Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill is meant to prevent. And boy has it ever taken off! It's everywhere now, because there really are few things conservatives like more than falsely accusing people of being child molesters.
The term even made an appearance on last night's edition of "The Ingraham Angle," with host Laura Ingraham showing two brief videos — one featuring a woman talking about how people of all ages masturbate, which is factually true, and that everyone should explore their own body, and another talking about how she teaches preschool and her class has been talking about "gender and skin color and consent and empathy and our bodies and autonomy," and then reacting in abject horror over "the grooming."
Grooming, in this context, refers to child molesters building bonds and relationships with children for the purpose of eventually sexually abusing them. Showing the child pornography or talking about sex for the purpose of inuring them to this abuse is frequently a part of that. That is what Ingraham is suggesting teachers are trying to do in class.
Transcript via Media Matters:
When did our public schools, any schools, become what are essentially grooming centers for gender identity radicals? As a mom, I think it's appalling, it's frightening, it's disgusting, it's despicable. Florida just passed a bill to keep this type of sexual brainwashing out of schools. Democrats, though, claim the bill is bigoted, branding it as the "Don't Say Gay Bill." Well, nice try. The real controversy, though, isn't this bill. It's that schools are peddling gender ideology when our international rankings in math, science, and reading are down across the board.
Yes. Teaching kids about consent, according to Laura Ingraham, is grooming. Teaching them about gender is "grooming." It's just so much better if gay and trans kids think there's something unspeakably wrong with them. It's also so much better for kids to find out that gay and trans people exist later, so that they are properly shocked when they find out, instead of just treating it like it's normal all along the way. It's really the only way that people like Laura Ingraham will have anyone to agree with them left in 20 years.
As absurd as all of this sounds to us, we still have to recognize that not only are people falling for it, they are playing telephone with it. It happens the same way it happens with QAnon, mole children, Wayfair and other absurd conspiracy theories. People hear something and then they pass it on to someone else, adding a little bit of their own flair. Someone told my father the other day, re: the Florida "Don't Say Gay" bill, that boys in second grade were being taught to perform fellatio on each other. Dead serious, straight face and everything. Really believed it with his whole heart and soul. So that's what we're dealing with here. This nonsense has serious consequences in terms of what happens in our schools. People are okay with this terrible bill because they literally believe it is preventing child molestation.
That children are not doing well in international rankings in math, science, and reading has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that schools have begun teaching kids about gender and empathy. American test scores have been low for decades. We have never done well on them. Part of this, researchers have suggested, is because the Program for International Student Assessment tests don't count towards grades, so students in the US are less motivated to bother trying on them. Studies have actually shown that when students are offered money for each correct answer, they do significantly better.
The other difference is that we have a pretty serious inequity problem in our schools. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one is certainly that our schools are funded largely through property taxes, meaning that some schools are extremely poor and some schools are extremely rich. LGBTQ+ children and educators did not come up with this plan, some other assholes did.
Of course, it's not like Laura Ingraham or any of these other folks care about education; the "they should just be learning about the three R's! Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmatic!" is just meant to be a backup for when their audience members runs into someone who actually knows what they're talking about. And it'll work, too, so long as whoever they're talking to doesn't know Republicans also tend to be very big fans of school prayer and teaching creationism in biology class ... which is surely great for those science test scores.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse