Linda Harvey, the host of the Mission America radio broadcast, is at it again. The commentator who refuses to take the plight of homeless LGBTQ youth seriously, frowns on the national Day of Silence, and thinks that anti-gay laws protect children is now accusing LGBTQ centers of corrupting youth.
During the September 3rd edition of the Mission America radio broadcast, Harvey claimed that LGBTQ centers invite young people into their spaces with no supervision and throw children together with young adults. Harvey refers to an August 21st commentary piece at the MassResistance website, which depicts LGBTQ community centers as dangerous organizations targeting children. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"Almost every major city has such a center now. Schools are now sometimes encouraging students to attend these clubs, and that's where alarm bells should be be going of. These centers often have websites and advertises themselves as open for dropping by after school or for social events. Some will sponsor a youth prom for homosexually-identified kids in the spring. Some of these centers will be the place where several of the local school homosexual clubs meet, away from the prying eyes of the school. Again, no supervision, and some have, yes, workshops on things like safer sex practices or about how to come up, declare yourself homosexual to your parents.Why Harvey is accusing LGBTQ centers of leaving minors unsupervised is beyond me. Liability concerns and common sense means that community groups do have adult supervision of activities involving minors. Also, why support for young people or workshops on coming out would be problematic is beyond me. Harvey's attack on LGBTQ community centers only makes sense if one sees heterosexual, cisgender people as the norm, and everyone else as deviant.
These clubs are open to that very broad term 'youth', and the ages range from around 12 or 13 to college age. A few years back, an interview with a club like this in Cincinnati revealed that no IDs were checked, and a child as young as 11 would be welcome. Now what does an 11 or 12 year-old have in common with a 21 year-old college student, and where the whole atmosphere is about same-sex sexual identity and behavior? Does this just scream trouble to you like it does to me? The adults in charge are usually homosexuals or cross-dressing men or women."
Harvey resorted to the toxic trope of gays-as-predators, insisting that LGBTQ young adults would use these centers to recruit children into homosexuality. "These centers are a perfect place for older teens and college-age students to seduce younger kids into homosexual behavior," she said. Stereotyping LGBTQ people as predators is not only inaccurate, but extremely hurtful. Such damaging, demonizing stereotypes have no place in public discourse.
Harvey accuses LGBTQ community centers of dubious behavior, when in reality, LGBTQ community centers provide young people with support and valuable services. Such centers create much-needed safe spaces for LGBTQ young people, support local gay-straight alliances, and empower LGBTQ youth to be future leaders. For many young people whose families ostracize them for their sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ community centers can be vital lifelines. To lambaste LGBTQ community centers over imagined sins is to ignore the important role they play in the lives of youth.
LGBTQ youth have to navigate a society in which homophobia and transphobia are still very real. Instead of promoting bigotry and blasting organizations that help youth, Harvey and her ilk should reexamine their assumptions.