If KOSA’s supporters are trying to distance the bill from harm to queer and trans youth, having NCOSE leadership be part of a panel at the Heritage Foundation following Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary hearing was an odd choice. In a way, NCOSE fits right in at Heritage: Its senior legal team is drawn from the ranks of Alliance Defending Freedom veterans, a Christian-right legal organization that often partners with Heritage, such as on Project 2025, its plan to (among other things) roll back LGBTQ rights on day one of a presumed Trump presidency. “Tech companies aren’t just protecting the perpetrators of sexual harm,” Hawkins said on the panel. “They are the perpetrators themselves.” Unsuprisingly, given the venue, when speaking about the specifics of such harm, Hawkins failed to mention harm to LGBTQ teens.
But the real tell was this: These tech platforms, Hawkins said, have “taken our power and our rights away as parents.” Others at the event, like Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, spoke of the hearing as an “inflection point,” owing to the “whole parental rights movement.” Repeatedly, speakers emphasized the idea of KOSA and similar legislation as protecting “our children’s innocence.” Those are the watchwords of the Christian right’s investment in legislating the internet: parents’ “rights” and children’s “innocence.”
Republicans have cannily used “online safety” as code for keeping anything vaguely queer away from kids. They’ve got Democrats on board, some eagerly. Twitter/X is now joining Snap and Microsoft in supporting KOSA. That means these platforms are happy to ally with anti-LGBTQ groups now to pass the bill, or at least avoid another troublesome hearing. We already know that X is fine with letting white supremacists on their platform again, readying for a return to Trump, perhaps. Given this, their willingness to ally with the Christian-right establishment on a backdoor censorship bill shouldn’t be such a surprise.