Sam Garin, Fairplay: [email protected]
Fairplay statement on Kids Online Safety Act and LGBTQ+ youth
BOSTON – TUESDAY, September 12, 2023 – Below is the statement of Fairplay regarding the Kids Online Safety Act and its impact on LGBTQ+ youth:
There is no doubt that KOSA will help protect all young people — including and especially LGBTQ+ youth — against some of the most serious harms online, including social media addiction, sexual exploitation, cyberbullying, eating disorders, and suicide.
The question is whether the bill will have unintended consequences and cut off LGBTQ+ youth from online resources, or expand censorship powers to conservative Attorneys General with an agenda against the LGBTQ+ community. Simply put, that answer is no.
Fairplay would not be such a strident supporter of this bill if we believed that any LGBTQ+ youth would be harmed by this bill. We stand alongside parents, caregivers and families who want their queer children to be safe, supported and celebrated, both online and off.
We spent the last week consulting with attorneys, leading queer advocates, first amendment experts, and platform design experts who all agreed that any attempt by conservative AGs to censor LGBTQ+ content would not succeed. The First Amendment protects against an AG driven by ideology making evidence-free claims to try to censor speech they do not like. On top of that, KOSA explicitly protects any content that is independently requested by young users – for example, if a young person were to search for content about gender affirming care, that content is protected. We are confident that any attempt at such a bigoted stunt would not result in any censorship of LGBTQ+ content, even preemptive censorship.
Queer youth are facing an onslaught of homophobia and transphobia across the internet and Big Tech isn’t particularly interested in curbing such harms. Queer youth are disproportionately cyberbullied for their identities, and they are more likely to be exposed to drug sales and pro-eating disorder content online. The Kids Online Safety Act would provide protection for LGBTQ+ youth and their cisgender, heterosexual peers from these everyday, devastating harms. In short, the Kids Online Safety Act is infinitely preferable to the status quo in which Big Tech consistently puts profits ahead of kids’ lives.