An employee of the software company Intuit got fired for posting anti-LGBTQ+ messages online, and now he’s suing his former employer.
Brian Gilton, 37, used to be a senior content designer for the company that owns TurboTax, MailChimp, and creditkarma until he posted two messages to Instagram last June.
“We’ve got 2-year-old babies at drag shows, and contemporary leftists are cheering it on to prove how ‘progressive’ they are,” the first message said.
The second message, posted two weeks later, read: “you’re not a bigot if you don’t want your three-year-old getting dry humped by a cross dresser.”
The idea that all LGBTQ+ people sexually abuse children or that they do so at a high rate is an old homophobic and transphobic stereotype that has been used to justify anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and violence in the past.
Gilton said that he got a phone call about a month later from his employer telling him that he was under investigation for the Instagram posts. Then he was fired in August 2022.
The First Amendment only prevents the government from restricting free speech; private employers aren’t constrained by it. California is an at-will employment state, meaning employers can fire workers for almost any reason or no reason.
Gilton’s argument is that Intuit violated a California law that prevents companies from “forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics” and “controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.” He cites another California law that says employers aren’t allowed to “coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence… [employees’] political action or political activity.”
His lawsuit quotes another of his Instagram posts that said support for LGBTQ+ youth today is a reaction to rightwing homophobia in the 1980s: “deeply, deeply lost leftists who are cheering on drag queen hour for 3-year-olds are lost in a planet-sized collective reaction to 40-year-old cultural conservatism.” The lawsuit says that this means that his other Instagram posts were political in nature.
Another post the lawsuit cites to show that he was making a political argument read, “if you don’t fall in line with whatever new craze reactionary psychotic mouth-foaming public tirade propagated by the far-leftist globalist corporate media and their automatrons in leftist culture, you have your career destroyed, you’re canceled, you’re erased from society, and you’re deemed a bigot, a racist, a ‘hate’ monger, a pariah, all because you didn’t do as you were told by leftist mob.”
Jenny Coleman of Stop It Now, an organization that is actually concerned with ending child sex abuse, told The Mercury News, “There is no correlation, there’s no data, there’s no research that [drag performance] at all poses a risk to children. Drag performance is not a stepping stone to a child being sexually abused.”
But that hasn’t stopped conservatives from attacking family-friendly drag performances. This past year, white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys have repeatedly protested drag shows while outraged conservatives have made threats of violence to get them shut down.