By Hannah Ritner
In the last several weeks, many YouTubers have been calling attention to the site’s censorship of LGBTQ+ content. YouTube has admitted to classifying these videos as “restricted content” that can only be viewed by users who are over the age of 18. Videos that have been labelled not worthy for viewing for minors contain discussion about sexuality, transitioning and coming out.
In response to questions surrounding this censorship, YouTube stated, “The intention of restricted mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience.”
The fact that LGBTQ+ content has been labelled “inappropriate” for viewership by deeming it “mature content” is not only violence against youths but also serves to sustain the sexualization of trans folk as well as stigmatize sexuality.
Many youth who identify as queer, trans, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual or gender non-binary use YouTube as a platform to find community and feel a sense of solidarity. Additionally, YouTube serves as a space where kids and teens can learn about sexuality, because oftentimes youth are not ready to discuss their sexuality with their parents or friends. Classifying individuals who do not identify as straight or cisgender as “restricted” perpetuates the idea that their sexualities are “dirty.”
This is an insidious attitude that not only isolates LGBTQ+ youth but also fuels a sense of discomfort surrounding non-straight/cis individuals. YouTube claims this is an effort to “protect the kids.” But protect them from what? And which kids are YouTube looking out for? Certainly not LGBTQ+ kids, who often need protection the most.
YouTube’s complicity in this violence also sustains the sexualization of the trans identity. Viewing trans folk as “restricted” content perpetuates their hypersexualization, fueling ostracization of the community.
Furthermore, it creates a double standard in which straight cis youth are viewed as the norm and any alternative form of identification is perceived as dirty or tainted. This means that the only time that children and teens alike hear about the LGBTQ+ community is at school — which probably means they hear about it in a negative way.
This censorship is extremely harmful to the LGBTQ+ community, which relies extensively on YouTube as a platform for young kids and teens to explore their sexuality in a way they feel comfortable. Taking away this space and casting it in a group that is seen as “inappropriate” erases these stories from the public eye and reproduces violence that these individuals are forced to struggle through every day.