California State Senator Scott Wiener tweeted a photograph of himself holding a book during a San Francisco Public Library event, but users online are sharing altered versions of the picture with a different book title alongside baseless claims that he is a “groomer.”
A tweet said: “If anyone is confused about what a certified groomer looks like, here ya go” and included the photo of Wiener holding a book with the altered title, “Don’t Tell Mom or Dad” (here). Another example can be seen on Facebook (here).
Grooming refers to manipulative behaviors that an “abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught,” according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (here).
Reuters has previously debunked claims connecting the LGBTQ community to “grooming” or pedophilia (here).
Wiener, an openly gay legislator who has supported legal protections for children seeking gender-affirming health care, addressed the use of the term groomer in a series of tweets in Nov. 2022 (here).
Erik Mebust, communications director for Wiener, told Reuters via email that the recently shared altered photo originates from a March 4 tweet by Wiener, which shows an identical background and apparel (here).
In his original photo posted in March, Wiener is holding a book with a yellow cover titled, “Gender Pioneers” (here). The photo was taken at the San Francisco Public Library’s “Celebration: Night of Ideas” event, held on March 4 (here).
Mebust said the circulating photo is “digitally altered” and an attempt to “use the Senator’s strong stances on LGBT youth rights to incite hate against the entire LGBT community.”
Another version of the altered photo has been shared online with a book titled “How To Legally Kidnap Children” (here). The post refers to SB 107, a California law introduced by Wiener that protects transgender children and their parents from other states who are seeking medical care in California, as explained by Reuters Fact Check in detail (here).
Altered. The photo of Scott Wiener holding a book originates from his Mar. 5 tweet but it has been digitally altered with fabricated book titles.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts (here).
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.