Gays Against Groomers headline anti-LGBTQ+ rally in Ft. Lauderdale

A group of far-right individuals spreading lies and distortions about LGBTQ+ youth and adults gathered in Fort on Saturday. Lauderdale, a center of queer life in Florida.

Promotional materials for the event called it a rally against “child grooming” and the “radicalized sex agenda,” according to Equality Florida, which denounced the rally. Pictures on posters showed parents protecting a child from a bleeding rainbow. The rally was organized by Moms for Liberty — which works closely with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to demonize trans youth, trans-inclusive doctors and drag queens – as well as organizations like Gays Against Groomers, Florida Fathers for Freedom and Moms for Liberty Miami. Newly elected Broward County School Board member and anti-LGBTQ+ member Brenda Fam was also scheduled to attend.

Jordan Toste, the Southeast Regional Manager of Gays vs Groomers (pictured above), was one of the scheduled speakers at the rally, according to south florida gay news.

Gays Against Groomers calls itself a non-profit organization and solicits donations on its website. “We are a coalition of gays against the sexualization, indoctrination and medicalization of children,” proclaims the group on its website.

The idea that LGBTQ+ people are somehow “preparing” young people to become gay, bisexual, or transgender is a false trope that the far right has clung to for years. In Florida, orange juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant made it her life’s mission in the 1970s, demonizing gay people and overturning anti-discrimination bills.

The modern effort against young homosexuals is producing enormous results in an increasingly conservative Florida. The Florida Board of Medicine is working to ban gender-affirming care for young people and institute a waiting period for adults seeking to transition, while the state’s new Parental Rights in Education Bill – aka the “don’t say gay” law — prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools across the state.

A counter-rally was scheduled for Saturday’s event. Equality Florida expected the young organizers to attend, as well as our elected officials, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and State Senator Shevrin Jones. Equality Florida blamed rallies like the one held Saturday at DeSantis’ feet.

“Governor Ron Desantis’ dangerous anti-LGBTQ policy and rhetoric has created an anti-LGBTQ hysteria we haven’t seen since the days of Anita Bryant and her ‘Save Our Children’ campaign,” Joe said. Saunders, senior policy director of Equality Florida.

“Governor DeSantis’ refusal to expose neo-Nazis, the Proud Boys and other extremists has emboldened them. During [Saturday]’s, a hate rally organizer aggressively taunted LGBTQ high school students by shouting “Where’s Jack!?” in an attempt to intimidate high school student Jack Petocz, organizer of the youth-led counter-protest. We are seeing a dangerous escalation in the way these extremist groups have threatened their opponents, including following families of trans children home after school board meetings. Governor DeSantis and his political advisers have spent the last year demonizing Florida’s LGBTQ community, attacking parents and denying them the right to care for their children. He made schools less safe and now this toxic rhetoric has spilled onto the streets.

Comments are closed.