Groomers by Any Other Name

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In the wake of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the Parental Rights in Education bill into law, the internet has been ablaze with debate as to whether those who advocate for LGBT curricula and policies in public schools should be described as “groomers.” The left is predictably up in arms over this controversy. And although most on the right appear to agree with the use of the label, some influential Beltway conservatives object to framing the issue in this manner.

Regardless of their intentions, they are wrong. Those who would subject children to state-funded LGBT indoctrination are undoubtedly groomers, and we should not shy away from branding them as such.

Among these dissenting conservatives is Never Trumper David French, senior editor at The Dispatch and contributing writer at The Atlantic. French took to Twitter to denounce “the slinging of the word ‘groomer’ or insinuations of sympathy for pedophilia.” Conspicuously absent from French’s thread is any condemnation of the evils of LGBT indoctrination. Instead, he draws attention to Trump’s colorful past, which tells us all we need to know about his priorities.

Others, such as National Review ISI Fellow Nate Hochman, opted for a more substantive critique of the grooming label. “Broadly speaking, left-wing teachers aren’t ‘grooming’ kids. Gender ideology in schools isn’t the same thing as pedophilia,” he tweeted. “The mainstreaming of these ideas on the Right is a great way to lose an otherwise very winnable culture war issue.” To his credit, Hochman, unlike French, made sure to clarify that he does oppose the deranged policies in question. As such, his concerns are actually worth addressing. 

The claim that pro-LGBT teachers are motivated by ideology, not a desire to engage in sexual acts with children, is true to some extent. Some are surely motivated by misguided ideological concerns. However, the full intentions of every teacher promoting an LGBT agenda in school simply cannot be divined. If an adult broached deviant sexual topics with a minor in public, they would rightfully be viewed with alarm. Why would we view an educator who does the same in a classroom any differently?

Sadly, teachers often engage in indefensible behavior with underage students. Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, a 2004 report from the U.S. Department of Education, reviewed 24 studies on the subject. The report states that “estimates for of the percentage of U.S. students subject to sexual misconduct by school staff … vary from 3.7 to 50.3 percent.”  This is a wide range, to be fair. Nevertheless, the report continues to cite a 2000 study from the American Association of University Women, which pegs the rate at 9.6 percent, as the most accurate.

But instructing children about gender identity and homosexualityis only half of the story. Arguably more insidious are policies designed to isolate children from the parents when it comes to sexual matters. In a recent article, “Trans Tyranny in Public Schools,” Chronicles Magazine Senior Writer Pedro Gonzalez detailed the nightmarish saga of a Texas family whose daughter was lured into a gender transition by public school teachers. The girl’s father recounts how she gradually drifted away from the family—they felt as if they barely knew her. This sense of disconnection was likely the result of school staff’s participation in helping her to hide her new gender identity from her parents.

Much of the debate over the grooming label boils down to semantics, that is, what qualifies as grooming. The term refers to a process of preparation, which may or may not culminate in sexual abuse. One can absolutely accuse those who instill gender dysphoria in young students of grooming children into transgenderism. In fact, isolating a child from his or her parents is listed as one of the six stages of grooming according to child advocacy organizations such as the Orphan Care Movement. Horrifically, this stage of grooming is now backed by state power in public schools.

In light of the facts, apprehension toward the motivations of teachers promoting perverse sexual content to children is entirely warranted. Although it is unlikely that most teachers are engaging in such heinous acts with their underage students, those who support LGBT policies in school are complicit in creating an environment that facilitates predation.

Some conservatives are also concerned that, by using such an explosive term, the right might scare away potential supporters. Yet the left has in large part succeeded by browbeating Americans with politically charged labels. One might argue that a lack of institutional power on the right would render this strategy unviable for us. The Republican base loves strong rhetoric, however. Have we forgotten what propelled Trump to victory in 2016? It certainly wasn’t the ‘respectable’ conservatism of Mitt Romney. Thus even if the right cannot utilize such labels as effectively as the left, we still stand much to gain by speaking bluntly about LGBT policies aimed at children.

The fact is that no one, not even the most ardent of progressives, wants to be labeled a groomer or a pedophile. Numerous mainstream publications have recently published articles decrying the right’s use of these labels. The Washington Post, for example, published “The New Red Scare: The Right Leans Into Pedophilia Accusations,” an article that amount to little more than groomer apologetics, with its author, Philip Bump, downplaying the entirely justified concerns shared by many on the right. “It is directly comparable to the red scare,” he wrote. “Then, America faced an existential threat from communists purportedly intermingled in government and culture. Now, it’s pedophiles.” 

Outrage from regime functionaries is a sign that the groomer label is effective. The strategy works. In light of this, now is not the time to tone police. We must instead double down. So let us call those who seek to foist such an unholy agenda upon the children of America what they are: groomers. 

Staff from Welcoming Schools read “I Am Jazz,” a story about a transgender girl, to a kindergarten class in Madison, Wisconsin (Jennifer Herdina / George Lucas Educational Foundation).