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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

NM LGBTQ group fears far-reaching effects of 'Kids Online Safety Act'

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Tuesday, May 7, 2024   

Legislation meant to protect minors on social media platforms could be voted on in Washington this week. But some in New Mexico's LGBTQ community worry it could also target them.

The Kids Online Safety Act bill has received bipartisan support, even though one author -- Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who consistently votes against gay rights -- has suggested it could be used to steer kids away from seeing transgender content online.

Elijah Valdez, community organizer with Equality New Mexico, said the bill's vague language is concerning.

"I think the overall bill may have good intentions, but it also has significant harm that can be brought to it with the current way it's written," he said. "Oddly enough, the act is currently attached to a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill up before the Senate. A revised version of the act narrows the ability to weaponize the legislation by an attorney general, but the ACLU says it's still 'internet censorship' that could harm the communities it claims to protect.

The Kids' Online Safety Act would establish a "duty of care" for covered platforms, which means they'd be mandated to "exercise reasonable care" to reduce harm to children. LGBTQ and reproductive rights groups say that phrase, "duty of care," means a future Federal Trade Commission could still use the act to pressure platforms to filter controversial topics such as transgender issues and abortion -- claiming such content could lead to anxiety or depression or other mental-health issues.

Valdez said he had the opposite experience.

"I grew up as a queer, trans youth in a rural community, where the internet was really what I needed to access -- really life-saving information around gender-affirming care and what it means to be LGBTQ," he said.

Late last year, parents of transgender kids sent a letter urging the U.S. Senate to oppose the Kids Online Safety Act, saying internet restrictions would cut off children from "life-saving online resources and community."

Disclosure: Equality New Mexico contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Human Rights/Racial Justice, LGBTQIA Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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