In the wake of the shooting at the LBGTQ Club Q in Colorado Springs, Rep. Lauren Boebert is defending her past anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender tweets.
Boebert said it was “disgusting” to blame her for what happened or say she “had bad rhetoric about the LGBT community,” during an interview with KOA’s Ross Kaminsky on Tuesday.
“That is completely false. I have never had bad rhetoric toward anyone and their personal preference as an adult,” she told Kaminsky. “What I’ve criticized is the sexualization of our children. And I’ve criticized men dressing up as caricatures of women.”
Sexual orientation is not a preference, according to the American Psychological Association.
The far-right congresswoman has come under fire several times before for her behavior and rhetoric while in Congress, from heckling President Joe Biden during the 2022 State of the Union to making anti-Muslim comments about a fellow Congress member.
And Boebert’s remarks in the interview also match a trend in anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans rhetoric. The term “grooming” is used to describe how child molesters entrap and abuse their victims, but in recent years has been co-opted and used by opponents of drag shows and the LGBTQ community.
Several Democrats, such as New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seized on Boebert’s past remarks for playing “a major role in elevating anti-LGBTQ+ hate rhetoric and anti-trans lies.”
Colorado’s first openly transgender lawmaker, state Rep. Brianna Titone, also tweeted that Boebert helped create the atmosphere for the attack.
“You spreading tropes and insults contributed to the hatred for us,” she wrote.
Thanks for the "thoughts and prayers" but that does nothing to offset the damage that you directly did to incite these kinds of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. You spreading tropes and insults contributed to the hatred for us. There's blood on your hands.— Rep Brianna Titone - COHD27 (@BriannaForCO) November 20, 2022
Just resign. https://t.co/W35IxKGtya
The police have not yet released a motive for the shooting on Saturday. Five people were killed and another 18 injured when a 22-year-old man entered the club and started shooting.
Still, after an unusually close reelection campaign and the shooting, the spotlight is again on Boebert’s anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ tweets.
Previously, Boebert tweeted out that parents should take their kids to church and not drag bars. And she also tweeted that drag queens should stay away from kids in her district after the Ouray Library advertised an event to help promote diversity and inclusivity.
Sending a message to all the drag queens out there: stay away from the children in Colorado’s Third District! pic.twitter.com/SWu4FxUDTG— Rep. Lauren Boebert (@RepBoebert) August 18, 2022
On KOA, Boebert seemed to equate drag queen story hours – events where a drag queen sits and reads stories to kids – and family-friendly drag queen shows – like one that was to be held this past weekend at Club Q – to some sort of strip club.
She said, “we don’t need 6-year-old children putting dollar bills in the thongs of grown men shaking and twerking in front of children ... that is child abuse.”
She said she would continue to stand up to what she sees as grooming children or sexualizing kids at a young age.
The Assistant Secretary for Health is out here trying to "empower" children to become transgender.— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) July 18, 2022
The word is "groom", Richard, not empower.
You're grooming them, not empowering them. https://t.co/sBPiaNu0Lj
Boebert has also likened help for transgender kids as “grooming” and indicated that people should be 21 before making “life-altering decisions about their sexuality and identity.”
We require people to be 21 to purchase alcohol beverages, and 21 to purchase tobacco products.— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) April 1, 2022
Why is it so unreasonable to require people to reach a certain level of maturity before making life-altering decisions about their sexuality and identity?
While the criticism toward Boebert has grown this week, some in her district and Colorado were calling out her rhetoric and support for anti-transgender legislation just a few months after she took office.
Boebert told Kaminsky she’s not going to change her tone or her stance.
“If there’s an issue that comes up where the government, the public system, is sexualizing our children I’m going to stand up against that. Absolutely. Children can’t get tattoos, but they can be chemically castrated, they could have fixed changes as minors,” she said.
Minors can only have that kind of surgery with the consent of their parents or legal guardians.
For Titone, the shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub was not shocking. She noted it’s not just rhetoric, but that statehouses have been passing laws that single out transgender people and the LGBTQ community at large.
“It’s gotten worse and worse. So it’s not a surprise to me, and to a lot of other people that we’re at this point where a violent attack is happening, and it’s happening in a place like (Club Q) because this has been brewing for a long time,” Titone said.
State Rep.-elect Stephanie Vigil, who will represent part of the Colorado Springs area at the statehouse next year and is a member of the LGBTQ community, said she’s seen more people trying to stop transgender kids from existing or being hostile to people over their identity and “spreading lies about the grooming of children.”
“It’s nonsense, but it’s not laughable because it’s so dangerous,” Vigil said. “And we know that when you start to dehumanize and slander people in this way, eventually somebody who has an inclination to violence will feel very emboldened that they’re doing a good thing by carrying out violence against people like myself and many of my loved ones.”
CPR’s Andrew Kenney contributed reporting.