A current tactic in public discourse is weaponizing language from the anti-sexual violence field, including terms like “grooming” and “pedophile,” to paint LGBTQ+ and trans people and education about gender, sexuality, and the existence of the LGBTQ+ community, as inherently dangerous to children. It’s a discriminatory strategy to motivate anti-LGBTQ+ misinformation, policies, and violence in the United States, and we resolutely reject it in all its forms.
Grooming is a tactic commonly used to abuse children in which someone methodically builds a trusting relationship with a child, their family, and community to manipulate, coerce, or force the child to engage in sexual activities. The person grooming identifies vulnerabilities, erodes the child’s boundaries, and builds up to acts of sexual abuse and control while convincing the world around the child that they are safe in their care. When homophobic and transphobic people and organizations accuse the LGBTQ+ community of “grooming” children, they are never speaking about these actual grooming behaviors.
The Facts About Grooming and Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is a real, widespread issue in all communities in the United States and globally. About 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 20 boys will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18.
The Facts About Sexual Abuse and the LGBTQ+ Community
Research has consistently shown that LGBTQ+ people are no more likely to sexually abuse children than straight people.
LGBTQ+ people—both youth and adults—experience higher rates of sexual violence than their straight peers. LGBTQ+ youth are nearly four times as likely to experience child sexual abuse than their straight peers. LGBTQ+ adults are 2-3x more likely to experience sexual violence than straight adults.
Consequences of Misinformation and Discriminatory Rhetoric
Children are denied access to information and programming that can help them lead happier, healthier, violence-free lives. Comprehensive sexuality education and violence prevention programs often address key risk and protective factors for sexual violence, including building empathy, developing decision-making and conflict-resolution skills, challenging traditional gender roles, and thinking critically about harmful messages in the media about sex and relationships. These programs may also help young people who experience grooming or sexual abuse get help sooner by teaching children the correct names for body parts, promoting bodily autonomy for children, and helping children identify trusted adults in their lives.
Adults operate with inaccurate information about the real risks of grooming and sexual abuse for the children in our lives, and we might miss crucial warning signs and moments where they could intervene to keep a child safe.
Violence against LGBTQ+ people increases. Repeated public statements that LGBTQ+ people are dangerous to children motivate people to spread inaccurate information about LGBTQ+ people, to enact policies that harm the LGBTQ+ community, and to physically attack and kill LGBTQ+ people.
What You Can do to Support the LGBTQ+ Community
Ask the leaders of schools, sports leagues, youth groups, after-school programs, and other youth-serving organizations what policies and training they have in place to protect children from grooming and sexual abuse. If they need help developing these resources, encourage them to contact The Alliance for assistance.
Have conversations with people in your life who promote or believe the falsehood that people in the LGBTQ+ community are dangerous to children. Call this messaging out when you hear it on the news, on social media, or in conversation.
Connect with The Alliance to access training and support. We are here to help you be strong advocates.