When people discuss pedophilia and child sexual abuse, in my opinion, it is important to also pay attention to laws that allow adults to marry children, why they exist, and who tends to access them.
As of today, only seven states in the United States of America have complete bans against child marriage. Those states are Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. In nine states, a child of any age can marry with parental consent and/or court approval. In the remaining thirty-four states, children above a minimum age can marry with parental consent and/or court approval. Meanwhile, "surveys have revealed that more than half of Americans believe that child marriage is already illegal throughout the United States."
These topics tend to cause a great deal of discomfort to people, and for good reason. People tend to want to protect children from pedophiles and child sexual predators. People are increasingly referring to LGBTQ+ people and their allies as "groomers" and other such things, "suggesting that they are adults bent on seducing children." While it is perfectly understandable that people want to protect children from sexual predators, it is unhelpful and actually incredibly harmful to associate LGBTQ+ people and their allies with being pedophiles and child sexual predators.
One reason is evidenced in polls reflecting that a vast majority of the population already erroneously believes that gay people are more likely to be predators than straight people. The research reflects that gay people are no more likely to be pedophiles and engage in child sexual abuse than cisgender straight people. Moreover, there are many more cisgender straight people than LGBTQ+ people, which means that from a numbers standpoint, there are a great many more cisgender straight people who are pedophiles and child sexual predators than can be said for LGBTQ+ people.
Another reason is similar to problems with racial profiling other than the fact that it is unconstitutional. Among other things, people do not tend to seek out that which they do not believe exists. In other words, while those concerned about protecting children from pedophiles and child sexual predators are focused on LGBTQ+ people, they fail to notice the cisgender straight people who are preying upon children.
As previously stated, there are far more cisgender straight pedophiles and child sexual predators in the population. Only 7.1% of the population identifies as LGBT, which means that 92.9% of the population identifies as cisgender and straight. On December 29, 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau projected that the U.S. population would be 334,233,854 on January 1, 2023, 310,503,250 of whom identify as cisgender and straight and 23,730,604 of whom identify as LGBT. There is no clear data on the percentage of the population that are pedophiles and child sexual predators. Part of the reason involves a bias on the part of researchers, such that the research tends to be limited to male pedophiles and child sexual predators. What is known is that the vast majority are males studies suggest that up to 5% of adult males are pedophiles attracted to underage but developed girls, and that 1% of adult males are attracted to prepubescent children, regardless of gender. Even though such data is lacking with regard to female pedophiles, the studies suggest that as many as 6% of adult males are pedophiles.
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, approximately 49.5% of the U.S. population is male. The data reflects that the male population in the United States as of January 1, 2023 was 165,445,758, an estimated 9,926,745 of whom are pedophiles. According to the research, a larger percentage of females identify as LGBT than males. As of 2020, 4.9% of males identified as LGBT. Therefore, of the estimated 9,926745 males in the United States who are pedophiles, approximately 486,411 are LGBT males, and that includes all LGBT males, not just gay males, and also includes male children who are LGBT.
Yet another reason falsely labeling LGBTQ+ people as pedophiles and child sexual predators by referring to them as "groomers" and other such things is that it has led to a significant increase in hate crimes targeting LGBTQ+ people.
Does it make sense to focus on all LGBTQ+ people and their allies, when fewer than 486,411 are gay pedophiles, or to focus on the more than 9,440,334 cisgender straight adult male pedophiles and child sexual predators in the United States? That is a rhetorical question because the answer should be obvious.
Circling back to adults marrying children, child marriage invariably or almost invariably takes place between a cisgender straight adult, usually an adult man, and a child, usually a girl. In fact, the research also reflects that 87% of the time, the adult marrying the child is a man and the child is a girl. Furthermore, in 86% of the cases, it is an adult man marrying the child bride, and in many cases, the adult man is much older than his child bride. When such marriages are not between an adult man and a girl, they are between an adult woman and a boy. This aligns with the research that the vast majority of pedophiles are males. Bear in mind that if the adults marrying children have not already had sex with them before marriage, they almost certainly have sex with them afterwards.
While the legal marriage legitimizes and makes legal the sexual relations between the adult and the child, it still involves adults having sex with children.
What is important to note is that such marriages are not between adult LGBTQ+ people and children because it is extremely unlikely that an LGBTQ+ adult would receive parental consent and/or court approval to marry a child. That said, it goes without saying that if LGBTQ+ adults were legally marrying children in this country, child marriage would be completely banned, unless there was a way to make it only available for cisgender straight adults.
Also, keep in mind that parents could not give parental consent and courts could not approve of such marriages, unless the law allows for it.
There has been a longstanding effort to associate LGBTQ+ people with pedophilia and child sexual abuse. In fact, that is the basis behind most anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Similar such concerns are raised regarding transgender people using bathrooms associated with their gender identity.
Interestingly enough, the reasons child marriage laws exist in 43 states in the United States of America include "parental rights" and "freedom of religion." This is fascinating, considering that those are the exact same arguments that tend to be the basis behind anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
LGBTQ+ people have not been involved in the fight against banning child marriage in this country. If they were, it is almost certain that child marriage would be banned without any exceptions. In other words, those responsible for child marriage being legal in the United States of America are cisgender straight people. While it may not be a majority of cisgender straight people or even a large percentage of them, child marriage remains legal because enough cisgender straight people fight against banning it. Many of these people are the exact same people who vote for and support laws that unfairly target LGBTQ+ people.
Adults do not marry children unless they are child sexual predators. It is about time that we have an honest dialogue about child sexual predators and pedophilia.
Left unchecked, biases cause people to constrict and distort the information they are willing and able to receive, try to understand, and consider in a fair manner. The more constricted and distorted the information received, properly understood, and fairly considered, the more impaired is the thinking involved.
If we, as a society, actually want to protect children, rather than just mistreat LGBTQ+ people, who tend to receive enough abuse from their own families, religious institutions, and elsewhere because of false and misleading beliefs, as sincerely-held as they may be, we would be doing that which is necessary to challenge our biases. Along those lines, on October 11, 2021, Psychology Today published an article of mine titled The Interconnection Between Women's Rights and LGBTQ Rights. I recently learned that the Community Foundation of San Carlos had a 21 Day Equity Challenge in October 2022 in order "to learn, grow and build community together." Day 15 was dedicated to LGBTQ+ issues. Of all of the articles on the topic, the above-referenced article of mine was selected as the Main Challenge on that topic. The use of the word Challenge is perfect because it is about challenging one's biases, which promotes self-awareness. In fact, that is exactly why each Challenge is followed by Self-Reflection Questions.
"The Community Foundation of San Carlos was established in November 2019 with a $2M endowment from the City of San Carlos. The foundation was formed to make San Carlos an even better place to live, work, study and play for current and future generations."
By definition, challenging one's biases, beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and values causes discomfort. Such challenges are worth the discomfort because that is how people learn and grow. Unfortunately, however, the exact opposite is taking hold in many parts of the country in that information that causes such discomfort is increasingly banned and targeted for banning because discomfort is uncomfortable. Whether we embrace or banish that which causes us discomfort will determine whether we learn and grow or remain uninformed and misinformed. The power of diversity is in diversity of thought, for this very reason. Banning that which challenges people's biases, beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and values is banning such diversity of thought.