Social media users have questioned if the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which has been endorsed by U.S. President Joe Biden, will block transgender content online for minors after recent remarks by Senator Marsha Blackburn, the lead sponsor of the legislation.
Over the past several months, transgender and LGBTQ+ rights have been a topic of controversy as lawmakers on different sides of the aisle express opposing views. In many Republican-led states, lawmakers have sought to ban transgender medical care for children. In Texas, the state Supreme Court approved a ban on most gender-affirming medical services for minors.
The Republican from Tennessee spoke about the KOSA during a recent conversation with the Family Policy Alliance. When asked about the top issue that conservatives should be paying attention to Blackburn said, “Well there are a couple of things, of course, protecting minor children from the transgender in this culture and that influence and I would add to that, watching what’s happening on social media.”
Blackburn continued: “I’ve got the Kids Online Safety Act that I think we’re going to end up getting through, probably this summer. This would put a duty of care and responsibility on these social media platforms, and this is where children are being indoctrinated.
“They’re hearing things at school and then they’re getting onto YouTube to watch a video and all of a sudden this comes to them and they’re on Snapchat or they’re on Instagram and they click on something and the next thing you know, they’re being inundated with it.”
In July, Biden expressed support for the KOSA saying, “Later this week, senators will debate legislation to protect kids’ privacy online, which I’ve been calling for for two years. It matters. Pass it, pass it, pass it, pass it, pass it.”
“We’ve got to hold—we’ve got to hold these platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on—on our children for profit,” Biden added.
Newsweek reached out to the White House via email for comment.
The remarks by Blackburn sparked accusations online that the legislation aimed to block transgender content online for children.
“Senator Marsha Blackburn, the lead sponsor of KOSA, just admitted that she’s pushing this legislation to ‘protect minor children from the transgender,'” wrote user Alejandra Caraballo on the social media site X, formerly Twitter.
“A Republican senator has admitted the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) which is currently being passed through Congress will intentionally target trans content,” LGBTQ+ media outlet PinkNews posted on X.
Another X user, Brody Levesque wrote, “A bill with bipartisan backing is quietly making its way through Congress, and it could pose a significant threat to LGBTQ+ content online.”
Blackburn’s legislative director, Jamie Susskind, responded to Levesque on Sunday and disputed the claims that the legislation will block transgender content online for minors, writing, “This is false. These are two separate issues being taken out of context. KOSA will not — nor was it designed to — target or censor any individual or community.”
A spokesperson for Blackburn’s office directed Newsweek to the post on X and said, “We have gone on record strongly pushing back at those that are seeking to misconstrue what was said for political gain.”