Since the passing of the Parental Rights in Education Act, or ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill, research conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy groups, and the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit group that tracks online extremism revealed that online anti-LGBTQ messaging has spiked. References to “pedophiles” and “grooming” have risen over 400% in the month after the passing of the bill and researchers found that “the 500 most-viewed tweets that mentioned “grooming” were viewed more than 72 million times between January and July.”
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis passed the Parental Rights in Education Act on March 8th, banning the discussion of gender and sexuality in grades kindergarten to third grade. Supporters of the bill believe that it should be parents who discuss these issues and not teachers.
DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming.”
After the publishing of the HRC and CCDC’s research, Pushaw stated in an emailed statement, ““There are groomers of all sexual orientations and gender identities. My tweets did not mention LGBTQ people at all.”
“Online hate and lies reflect and reinforce offline violence and hate,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. “The normalization of anti-LGBTQ+ narratives in digital spaces puts LGBTQ+ people in danger.”
The researchers stated that they reported 100 of the most hateful tweets to Twitter, and one of them was removed.