Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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LTE: Standing against anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns at The Arch

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the informative story on April 5 about the unfortunate visit to NU’s Arch by members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property — an anti-LGBTQ “action group” dedicated to exposing the so-called “grooming” of young people by transgender activists or teachers engaged in sex education.

It’s sad that such a group (playing bagpipes, no less) is now involved in campaigning at universities and in the process of spreading hatred about the LGBTQ+ community and transgender persons in particular.

As a gay man, I’ve had the good luck to meet several transgender individuals in my life and to become friends with some. Without exception, they’ve been fine individuals who simply want to live without discrimination. Some are NU graduates.

Know this: The idea that trans children, teenagers or young adults are being groomed in any way by other trans individuals or organizations, or by schools, is ludicrous and laughable.

The notion that LGBTQ+ persons are trying to groom kids to become miniature versions of themselves is an old, old concept that reeks of prejudice and misunderstanding anew with every successive generation.

I remember when I was a youngster in the 1970s, country singer Anita Bryant and her followers tried to spread fear of gays and lesbians as diabolical types who needed to be separated from the nation’s vulnerable children. In 1978, a California lawmaker even introduced a voter referendum that would have banned gays and lesbians from the state’s public schools. (It failed.)

Now, a half century later, we see a new wave of bigots accusing transgender people, as well as educators simply doing their jobs, of having the same nefarious motives.

Make no mistake: Grooming exists and will as long as child sexual abuse exists. It is a horrible act and evil to its core. We can define it as a pedophile secretly becoming friends with a youth or young adult — and often their family — over time with the intent of gaining their confidence in order to eventually sexually abuse them.

But that has zero to do with what far-right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ activists really fear and loathe: educating or counseling fact-hungry young people about sexuality and transgender issues. In an effort to scare parents out of their wits and create a modern moral panic, these ultra-conservative activists have revived an old trope — a metaphor adapting or rather warping the word “groom” — in a way that’s not only invalid but grossly harmful.

As a recent report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, an independent think tank dedicated to defending human rights, summed it up: “Around the world today, the use of the term ‘groomer’ is used to justify hate, discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ+ community. In the U.S. particularly, the use of this language, along with conspiratorial thinking around queer people, has led to legislation preventing the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools and preventing trans children from accessing gender affirming healthcare and has motivated attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals.”

I salute the NU Society of Trans and Non-Binary Students for standing up to the aforementioned activists in an intelligent and non-confrontational way. These counter-protesters recognized American TFP’s message for what it was: not only misguided but inspired by venom — and essentially irreligious.

Signed,
Robert Kazel (Medill ’86)

If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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