Frame Variation in Child Protectionist Claims: Constructions of Gay Men and Transgender Women as Strangers

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This research contributes to social movement framing theory about frame variation, along with the social problems literature on child protectionism. I extend the theorizing on frames by arguing that frame variation can be a response to new agendas and goals of countermovements and opponents. Specifically, for opponents to rights activism, frame variation can be reaction to the assertion of rights for new protagonists, specifically their entry into new spaces. This study analyzes frame variation of the most deleterious child protectionist claims about stranger danger, assertions that the presence of racial, gender, and sexual others in public spaces will harm children. This paper is a content analysis of political flyers and messages developed by Religious Right campaigns at the state and municipal level between 1974 and 2013; these campaigns framed gay men and transgender woman as threats to children in classrooms and bathrooms. For both gay men and transgender women, these claims were most common at the start of rights advocacy. I argue that challengers make the most overt, deleterious arguments about harm to children when new groups initially advocate for legal rights and access to new spaces; as marginalized groups become more familiar and less "strange," challengers make more covert claims about these groups, as stranger danger claims have waning cultural and political resonance.




Oxford University Press

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Social Forces