Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) departs a House Republican Conference meeting on November 14, 2023 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC Source: Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images

Mike Johnson Unhappy that More LGBTQ+ Youth are Living Authentically

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

The long arc of Speaker of the House Mike Johnson's virulently homophobic career continues, with the longtime equality foe and "conversion therapy" supporter now expressing his woe that America's LGBTQ+ youth are increasingly comfortable and confident enough to come out.

In his latest move, Johnson sought to fundraise off recent data that shows more young Americans than ever say they aren't necessarily strictly heterosexual.

"'1 in 4 high school students identifies as something other than straight,' Johnson declared in the email, a copy of which was first obtained by Punchbowl News," reported Business Insider.

Following the common right-wing trope of conflating identity with indoctrination, Johnson followed up with the insinuating query, "What are they being taught in school?"

"According to 2021 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.7% of high school students do not identify as straight," Business Insider detailed. Unsurprisingly, the largest share of that number – roughly 12% – self-identified as bisexual, which may not be surprising when the question is put to young people.

Other categories of sexual orientation were significantly smaller, Business Insider noted, "with 3.2% identifying as gay or lesbian" and "9% identifying as something else, or questioning."

In addition, a poll conducted by Gallup early in the year "similarly found that a record 7.2 percent of the nation's adult population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or 'something other than heterosexual,'" political news outlet The Hill recounted, "including nearly 20 percent of adult members of Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2004."

Johnson's money-soliciting message that the kids are not all right framed the issue as a matter of religious concern, with a heading that asked recipients, "Does America need more God, Patriot?"

Johnson's history of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and his career in seeking to limit the rights of queer people has come under scrutiny since he was elected to the position to replace toppled former speaker Kevin McCarthy, who fell victim to the chamber's far-right wing after working with Democrats to keep the government from running out of money, defaulting on its obligations, and damaging the economy.

As previously reported, a recent CNN "review of more than 100 of Johnson's interviews, speeches and public commentary spanning his decades-long career as a lawmaker and attorney paints a picture of his governing ideals: Imprisoning doctors who perform abortions after six weeks; the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in public buildings; an elimination of anti-hate-crime laws; Bible study in public schools," the news outlet detailed.

"While it's been no secret that Johnson is an evangelical conservative who has previously supported the criminalization of gay sex," Business Insider recalled, "he has sought to project a more moderated version of those views since his sudden ascent to the role of speaker of the House."

Then again, maybe not.

In the fundraising message, Johnson slammed the "filth that passes for popular culture" and pined for the good old days, fretting that "America may be beyond redemption."

The Speaker went on to declare that Americans "live in a depraved culture" and fretted that "God may allow our nation to enter into a time of judgment for our collective sins."

Johnson's warning about divine wrath continued: "We have much to repent for if we want to avoid the judgment we so clearly deserve."

The fundraising missive is hardly surprising, given Johnson's long record of anti-equality work, including risible warnings that full legal marriage equality "could lead to people marrying their pets" and a pattern of having "advocated for the criminalization of gay sex," The Hill noted.

Human Rights Campaign head Kelley Robinson called Johnson out, stating that his "obsession with extremely anti-LGBTQ+ law and policy and his desperation to impose that agenda on the nation are a stain on the GOP and all those who supported him."

Even before his rise to national prominence when he gained the Speaker's gavel, Johnson continued his full-bore attacks on the rights and liberties of LGBTQ+ Americans. The Hill recollected that "last year [Johnson] introduced legislation criticized by LGBTQ rights advocates as a national version of Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill, known to its opponents as the 'Don't Say Gay' bill."

"He later co-sponsored legislation to bar transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams and has railed against gender-affirming health care in committee hearings."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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