HB18 threatens to censor LGBTQ content
On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed social media legislation (HB 18) into law requiring online platforms to provide parents with control over minors’ social media accounts and censoring certain types of content. Chamber of Progress opposed the legislation, raising concerns that the bill would isolate teens without supportive parents and ban access to information online for young adults exploring their identities.
“First the far right went after school libraries, and now they’re going after content online,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. “It’s no secret who this bill targets when it uses political shorthand like ‘grooming’ that conservatives have used to pass book bans aimed at the LGBTQ community. This law is going to have a harmful, isolating impact on young people without supportive parents, especially LGBTQ teens looking to connect with supportive communities and peers who identify like they do.”
HB 18 includes a banned list of content that social media sites may not display to known minors, including “grooming” content. In states across the country, including in Texas, grooming has been used as a pretext to persecute librarians and ban books that include LGBTQ content.
The National Institutes of Health reports that social media is associated with reduced mental health concerns and increased well-being among LGBTQ youths, a finding noted in the Surgeon General’s recent report on teen mental health and social media use.
In addition to censoring content, HB 18’s parental control requirements pose a threat to marginalized teens. Research from the Trevor Project finds that fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth find their home to be gender-affirming. For support, studies show that queer young adults turn to the Internet to explore their sexual identities, connect with peers, and find their community online.
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