Anti-LGBTQ groups marked several victories at the federal level. The Equality Act was passed by the House in February with the support of three Republicans. However, it was blocked in the Senate for lack of the votes to overcome a filibuster.
In March 2021, Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine became the first transgender person confirmed by the Senate. Her confirmation hearing was marred by transphobia, however, as Sen. Rand Paul quoted pseudoscience-based statistics from the SPLC-listed hate group American College of Pediatricians.
Technology companies have been under pressure for months to stop enabling the spread of anti-transgender hate and targeting LGBTQ+ people by online trolls. As a result of terms of service violations, a popular anti-trans hate group was banned from a major internet service for the second time this week.
Gays Against Groomers, founded by Florida political operative Jaimee Michell who identifies as gay, was banned from using Google's subscriber services late Tuesday evening, the group said on social media.
Shortly after Michell appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program to complain to the far-right pundit about the news that Venmo and PayPal had banned the group, Gays Against Groomers took to Twitter. Although Michell and Carlson discussed being banned from utilizing the platform to collect funds for use in its hate campaigns, Gays Against Groomers tweeted about now being banned from Google as well.
The account has been tweeting nearly nonstop for the past day, calling for its followers to boycott the companies that are holding the group accountable for the vitriol it has generated toward LGBTQ+ communities, educators, and doctors who support transgender kids.
Gays Against Groomers (GAG) is an American far-right anti-LGBT organization known for protesting against gender-affirming care for minors, including at hospitals that provide it; against LGBT representation at schools; and against Drag Queen Story Hour events. A spokesperson for the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD has claimed that the group uses the slur "groomer" to characterize LGBT people as pedophiles. GAG has hosted anti-LGBTQ rallies, alongside other far-right and anti-LGBTQ organizations such as Moms for Liberty, which have been attended by the Proud Boys.
On September 3, a coalition of far-right groups including GAG, Babies Lives Matter, the Proud Boys, LEXIT, the Palmdale Freedom Coalition, and White Lives Matter planned a QAnon themed "Save the children" rally. The marchers were met by counter-protesters and the confrontation between the groups produced little excitement.
On December 3, a group of far-right individuals including GAG, Moms for Liberty, and Florida Fathers for Freedom organized and hosted a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Miami. Jordan Toste, the southeast regional leader of GAG, was one of the scheduled speakers. Approximately 20 Proud Boys were also present and flashed white power symbols during the protest. The event was promoted by OANN, Breitbart News, and the Goyim Defense League. A counter rally of approximately 50 people was hosted including youth organizers and elected officials, who blamed such rallies on Governor Ron DeSantis' anti-LGBT politics and rhetoric. An organizer of the rally was recorded to have aggressively taunted high school students and attempted to intimidate a student organizer of the protest.
On October 24, a Wauwatosa school board meeting was infiltrated by Michell, speaking for GAG, and the right-wing group Moms for Liberty, neither of which are based in Wauwatosa. They protested the district's new human growth and development curriculum which had been approved months ago, had a 70% approval rating in the district, and was not on the agenda. Michell and Moms for Liberty accused attendees of being groomers, not actually being gay, and wanting to show explicit pictures to children, at one point bringing a 10-year-old student to tears. Both groups had advertised their plan to attend for days beforehand. Michell implied she planned to attend future board meetings and described the curriculum as "child abuse" and "grooming". Parents spoke out against the inclusion of these outside extremist groups.
In November, an unidentified group put up door hangers attacking the St. Charles Public Library and School District 303 for their social-emotional learning program. The hangers said schools and libraries are "eroding parental and constitutional rights by promoting the 'sexualization' and 'gender dysphoria' in children as young as preschool, yet are exempt from the prosecution!" The hangers listed resources for people including GAG and MassResistance, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.[clarification needed]
Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at Harvard, was the first to reveal that Michell was behind the account and described GAG as "a conservative funded propaganda account to push the groomer libel". GAG used Caraballo's name as a discount code to sell anti-trans merchandise. Them.us described it as a "Great Value version of the notoriously toxic Libs of Tiktok". GAG has been accused of fueling stochastic terrorism, the public condemnation of a group that leads to violent acts against the group.
In an August 2022 interview with OANN, the group's founder compared gender-affirming care to the experiments on Auschwitz prisoners by the Nazi SS doctor Joseph Mengele. Writing in LGBTQ Nation, Alex Bollinger criticized these comments, noting that the Nazis destroyed Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute of Sexology, which "did pioneering work on understanding LGBTQ identities, including transgender people".
Venmo, PayPal, and Google have banned the group from raising funds on their platforms due to their policies prohibiting hate speech. As a result, GAG began to use the fundraising platform Donorbox.
INSKEEP: I guess we should define a little more definitely what the group was looking for. Your headline in The Washington Post says "Catholic Group Spent Millions On App Data That Tracked Gay Priests." Why gay priests?
BOORSTEIN: Well, this is a group that's really prioritizing this kind of conservative view of Catholic life. So our reporting showed that their interest is really in this - you know, prioritizing priests who use these gay hookup apps. The huge data set that they have did include, in much smaller numbers, a variety of other apps, which included OkCupid, other gay apps, other straight apps and that kind of thing. But the vast majority of their data was focused on Grindr, which is an app that gay men use.
INSKEEP: I guess we should remind people, according to the rules of the Catholic Church, priests are not supposed to marry. They're supposed to remain celibate. And I guess if you're concerned about that, you can go poking around and find out if people are following that rule. But you're saying, it seems, from the data you have, their specific concern was not people engaging in sexual activity as people who were gay. You also say you have an audio recording of the group president discussing its mission. How did they define what they were doing?
BOORSTEIN: Well, they talked about this heavy concern about celibacy. And there's been - especially in the last few years in the Catholic Church, there's been a concern about bishops and people at the top not sharing information and not holding each other accountable and that kind of thing. So this is kind of reflecting this trend in the Catholic Church where laypeople are really saying, look; we can't trust the bishops to take control of things, to clean things up, whether that's the clergy sex abuse issue - which this group does connect to gay priests in particular - or just celibacy and traditional values. So we need to kind of take the reins ourselves and police this issue.
INSKEEP: Can I just, in the few seconds we have, clarify something here? There have been horrifying sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church going back decades, obviously, but was this group in some way conflating simply being gay with being a pedophile?
In 2014, Kye Rowan created the Nonbinary Pride Flag to represent people whose gender identity does not fit within the traditional male/female binary. The colors of the nonbinary flag are yellow, white, purple, and black. The colors each symbolize a different subgroup of people who identify as nonbinary.Yellow signifies something on its own or people who identify outside of the cisgender binary of male or female. A cisgender person would be a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. White, a color that consists of all colors mixed, stands for multi-gendered people. Purple, like the lavender color in the genderqueer flag, represents people who identify as a blending of male and female genders. Finally, black (the absence of color) signifies those who are agender, who feel they do not have a gender.Some non-binary/genderqueer people use gender-neutral pronouns. Usage of singular 'they', 'their' and 'them' is the most common.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, center right, greets spectators while marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston's South Boston neighborhood in 2015. Boston's mayors had boycotted the event since 1995, when the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council took its fight to exclude gay groups all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, used with permission from the Associated Press)
In Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995), the Supreme Court established that the First Amendment free speech rights of private groups to define the parameters of their expressive conduct during a parade trumped the provisions of a state anti-discrimination law.
Susan Gluck Mezey. 2009. Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (1995) [electronic resource]. The First Amendment Encyclopedia, Middle Tennessee State University (accessed Apr 01, 2023). -amendment/article/65/hurley-v-irish-american-gay-lesbian-and-bisexual-group-of-boston 041b061a72