Negative rhetoric in LGBTQ+ news stories must end


Photo courtesy of Instagram @time

Bouquets of flowers and other tokens of remembrance left outside of Club Q to honor those lost in the tragedy on Nov. 19

On Nov. 19, a shooting occurred at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO, killing five people and injuring at least two dozen others. Assailant Anderson Lee Aldrich faces 305 counts including first degree murder and hate crimes.

But do you know what’s most shocking about this tragic incident? The fact that anyone who keeps up with the news could have seen this coming — it felt almost inevitable.

There has been a dramatic increase in dehumanizing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in the media over the past year, which has proven to be harmful both physically and emotionally. One idea being pushed by conservative news outlets and politicians, especially in light of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is that LGBTQ+ people are linked to pedophilia. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the average number of tweets each day using slurs such as “groomer” and “pedophile” in relation to LGBTQ+ people increased by 406 percent in the month after the Florida bill was passed.

The tragedy at Club Q was not an isolated incident either. The recent rhetoric seen in the news has been accompanied by growing violence toward LGBTQ+ people. Drag Queen Story Hour events across the U.S. (where performers read books to children) have repeatedly been disrupted by The Proud Boys, a far-right group, showing up with firearms. Additionally, Boston Children’s Hospital recently received bomb threats sparked by the hospital’s work with transgender youth.

We also see the promotion of homophobic views infecting popular social media platforms, such as TikTok. While news outlets may influence adults, this app holds the power to shape the opinions of our youth. By exposing them to a world of imprecise and biased news, TikTok could taint their perspectives on LGBTQ+ equality.

According to, just 12 hours after the Colorado shooting, anti-LGBTQ+ TikTok accounts broadcasted the report in a hateful manner, likely increasing LGBTQ+ prejudices among minors. These accounts are primarily used to promote spiteful views regarding LGBTQ+ individuals, and, in this case, encourage physical violence toward the community.

So what does this say about the power the media holds? News outlets carry the responsibility of covering news stories without bias, distributing accurate and clear information. The rhetoric used on various media platforms is creating a demeaning and damaging image of LGBTQ+ people, while also attempting to normalize derogatory behavior that discriminates against the community.