Libs of TikTok credited with inspiring hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and ‘grooming’ rhetoric

Christina Pushaw

The recently exposed Libs of TikTok Twitter account has been credited with inspiring Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, as well as the surge in “grooming” rhetoric among conservatives.

This week, Chaya Raichik was exposed as the person behind the account, which started on TikTok but moved to Twitter in 2020.

Raichik posts social media content from “liberals”, often teachers and LGBT+ people, to invite pile-ons from right-wing conservatives.

She was outed this week after she left an easy-to-follow digital trail, and was named in a Washington Post exposé from columnist Taylor Lorenz, which focused on Raichik’s significant impact on right-wing media and politics.

But it seems that Libs of TikTok’s influence reaches even further than first thought.

Evidence suggests that Raichik has had a long-running online friendship with Christina Pushaw, press secretary to Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who last month signed into law the state’s hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, banning the discussion of LGBT+ topics in classrooms. 

According to analysis by watchdog Media Matters for America, as of 14 April, Pushaw and the Libs of TikTok account had interacted at least 138 times on Twitter since June, 2021.

Their interactions show them working together to target LGBT+ teachers, with Libs of TikTok posting content from educators, and Pushaw asking the account for information on the teachers’ employers and school districts.

In a 24 March Twitter thread on the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, Pushaw credited Libs of TikTok “opening her eyes” to teachers discussing “sex, sexuality, and LGBT issues”.

Libs of TikTok also appears to have, in part, inspired the “grooming” rhetoric among Republicans in relation to Florida’s crackdown on LGBT-inclusive education.

There has been a huge surge in the use of the word in right-wing political circles since Pushaw, on 4 March, described the Florida bill as “the Anti-Grooming Bill”.

She tweeted: “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of four to eight-year-old children.

“Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”

But according to Media Matters, Libs of TikTok “specifically used ‘groomer’-related language in 46 tweets since November 2021”. 24 of these were posted before 4 March, when Pushaw used the same language.

Since Raichik’s unmasking, Pushaw has continued to defend her, even as teachers speak out about losing their jobs and receiving death threats after being targeted by Libs of TikTok.

The influence of the anti-LGBT+ Twitter account on politics is especially concerning as the opinions expressed by Raichik have extended beyond the scope of ‘Don’t Say Gay’.

Since her identity was revealed, Raichik has been frantically deleting thousands of tweets, including one which calls for all the LGBT+ teacher to be “fired on the spot”.

In other deleted tweets, Libs of TikTok accused Chasten Buttigieg of “grooming kids”, and described LGBT+ anti-suicide charity The Trevor Project as a “grooming organisation”.