Amidst claims that KOSA (Kids Online Safety Act) does not present harm to LGBTQ youth, a coalition of digital rights and civil rights groups are countering this narrative with an open letter reaffirming their opposition to KOSA and demanding that Congress look for policy options that do not harm marginalized youth already under attack across the country. The open letter is as follows:
We’ve repeatedly warned that KOSA, if passed, can be used against LGBTQ youth and communities. Far right supporters of the bill have repeatedly stated that they intend to use the bill against LGBTQ content. Yet Fairplay, in a stunning display of disinformation, has declared the bill is pro-LGBTQ. They released a survey, conducted by them, that concludes what we already know – abusive big tech practices harm everyone. This truth has nothing to do with our core concerns. We support addressing these abuses, and know there are many ways to solve these problems that do not put LGBTQ youth at risk.
KOSA will be weaponized against youth who are members of the LGBTQ community. That’s a statement of fact, confirmed by supporters of the bill who have repeatedly stated that they intend to use the bill against LGBTQ content. KOSA’s co-author is Marsha Blackburn, a senator who headlined Matt Walsh’s hateful anti-trans rally at Vanderbilt University. Anti-trans bigots are telling us that they want KOSA passed to help them continue their campaign of hate, and we should believe them.
Our concerns are not unfounded, and Heritage Foundation’s support of the bill, to use against trans content, has continued despite the insufficient changes to KOSA that were offered as a response to our concerns. We know the proposed changes don’t address our concerns and so does the Heritage Foundation. As we’ve explained, the fixes do not work because it still gives broad authority to state Attorneys General who can interpret the bill to include a duty to prevent youth from accessing LGBTQ content. Anti-trans AGs can easily find doctors who will say that any such prohibition will be in the interest of youth mental health as described in the bill. Heritage Foundation is a major leader in right wing politics, their statements should not be ignored.
We cannot allow KOSA to pass and cut LGBTQ youth off from online support that has been repeatedly shown to be helpful to LGBTQ and questioning adolescents. The American Psychological Association has said that LGBTQ youth’s use of online spaces “to provide support to and share accurate health information with one another is beneficial to psychological development, and can protect youth from negative psychological outcomes when experiencing stress.” The Surgeon General has acknowledged that “studies have shown that social media may support the mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, queer, intersex and other youths by enabling peer connection, identity development and management, and social support.”
If KOSA passes, all the benefits of accurate health information, social networking, community, and access to help in a questioning or crisis situation will be eliminated for all LGBTQ youth. We urge you, too, to remember that a minor is anyone under the age of 18.
We remain opposed to KOSA and ask Congress to look for alternative solutions that do not put marginalized communities at risk.
Fight for the Future
Woodhull Freedom Foundation
EducateUS: SIECUS In Action
Defending Rights & Dissent
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
Black and Pink National
SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change
For more information on Fight’s work opposing KOSA, you can visit stopkosa.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.