Anti-LGBTQ+ ‘groomer’ slur explosion linked to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law in eye-opening report

Ron DeSantis, the Florida flag

Use of the anti-LGBTQ+ slur “groomer” on social media shot up in the wake of Florida’s cruel “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, a report has found.

The report, by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDC), also found that social media companies have failed to combat use of this phrase and others comparing LGBTQ+ people to “predators” or “paedophiles”.

On 29 March, the day after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was signed into law, banning discussions on LGBTQ+ topics between kindergarten and third grade,  use the phrase “OK groomer” peaked on Twitter.

it was tweeted 9,219 in total – about once every nine seconds.

Though Twitter has now banned the use of the word “groomer” when directed at trans and non-binary people, the report claimed that in the week after the ban was introduced, “OK groomer” was still mentioned 4,677 times – an average of 668 times per day.

“The phrase received little pick-up until after the ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill,” the HRC report said.

“In the month before the passing of the bill, it was tweeted an average of 54 times per day, which jumped to 1,385 per day in the month after, a 2,565 per cent increase.

“In total, the phrase has been mentioned 127,537 times since the bill was passed – an average of 898 times per day.”

The report, however, found that despite Twitter banning the word “groomer” as a slur, both it and Facebook are “failing to act” on the majority of damaging posts.

The report stated: “CCDH researchers used Twitter’s ‘report an issue’ feature to report the 100 most-viewed tweets from after 21 July promoting the hateful ‘grooming’ narrative.

“The 100 tweets were based on the wider samples of tweets identified using keywords and were only included if they were identified by two researchers as promoting the narrative that the LGBTQ+ community or its allies are ‘groomers’ or another similar slur.”

“Two days later, Twitter had acted on just one tweet,” the report said, explaining the tweet had broken its rules on abuse and harassment.

The report added: “When researchers checked, the tweet had been removed, but the account was still active.

“A second tweet was confirmed by Twitter as violating its rules but was not removed.”

Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH, said: “After decades of hard-won progress, the recent surge in violence and anti-LGBTQ+ hate serve as a reminder of how fragile that progress might be, and that there remain determined and capable opponents.

“We are calling on Twitter and Meta to act on anti-LGBTQ+ hate and to stop hosting these harmful slurs.

“Social media companies that celebrate Pride Month while profiting from dangerous hatred against LGBTQ+ people should put their money where their mouth is.”

PinkNews has contacted Twitter for comment.