The Far Right Is Calling for the Execution of Teachers and Doctors

A growing number of people working in education and healthcare are receiving death threats because they provide support or care for LGBTQ minors.
Matt Walsh speaks during a rally against gender-affirming care in Nashville, Tennessee on October 21, 2022. (SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)
Matt Walsh speaks during a rally against gender-affirming care in Nashville, Tennessee on October 21, 2022. (SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)

Tim Nordin was at home ahead of a school board meeting in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, last spring when he checked his email and found a threatening message from someone with the alias “Kill All Marxist Teachers.”

“I am going to kill you and shoot up your next school-board meeting for promoting the horrific, radical transgender agenda. It’s now time to declare war on you pedos. I am going to kill you and your entire family,” said the email, which was reviewed by VICE News. 


Nordin, president of the Eau Claire Area School District, went straight to his wife and showed her the email. They instructed their 14-year-old son, who was outside in the yard, to return home, and they locked the doors. Nordin then drove to the school board office. He called his colleagues to warn them about the email, and met up with police once he arrived.

“It’s very easy to imagine a mass shooting in the U.S. at any event at this point, so we had to take it very seriously,” Nordin told VICE News. “I didn’t want to be close to my family, just in case.”

All of this was happening against a highly politicized backdrop: The Eau Claire School District was going through an election cycle, and a few candidates were running anti-LGBTQ campaigns—an increasingly popular strategy among GOP politicians. Articles about Eau Claire had popped up in far-right media channels, from local blogs to national behemoths like Breitbart and Fox News, after a presentation by an educator went viral for including a note that parents aren’t entitled to know their kids’ identities, such as sexuality, and that teachers need to prioritize support for students. “Inside a Wisconsin School District’s Gender Ideology Training,” one headline read.

Nordin, who was up for re-election, is a public supporter of LGBTQ students. Today, he’s one of an increasing number of U.S. citizens working in education or healthcare who’s received death threats because of his decision to care for LGBTQ minors. And this is part of a pattern: An investigation by VICE News in collaboration with researchers from the nonpartisan think tank Advance Democracy, which tracks extremism online, found widespread and explicit calls for violence online against those who are trying to protect LGBTQ kids.


An investigation by VICE News in collaboration with researchers from Advance Democracy, which tracks extremism online, found widespread and explicit calls for violence online against those who are trying to protect LGBTQ kids.

Right-wing personalities now routinely—and falsely—refer to LGBTQ people as “groomers” and “pedophiles.” They’ve also accused teachers of “grooming” children, while claiming doctors “mutilate” and “sterilize” minors. The result has been an escalation in threats targeting trans-inclusive hospitals and school districts generally, as well as specific workers within them. 

“This is done intentionally,” Nordin said. “We just saw Club Q. We continue to see these acts of hate … It’s the overall tenor of these attacks that continues, not just death threats. It’s making our communities less safe.” 

Hate that targets trans people isn’t new, but in recent years it’s moved toward the center of U.S. politics, with conservative politicians and influencers seemingly scapegoating LGBTQ people as a way to incite fear and activate voters. In 2022, conservative politicians spent at least $50 million on anti-trans campaigns in order to mobilize voters. Meanwhile, far-right influencers like the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik targeted hospitals that provide gender-affirming care to minors, including Boston Children’s Hospital and the Vanderbilt Clinic for Transgender Health at Vanderbilt University. Recently, Raichik reached out to a Minnesota educator while pretending to be a student seeking hormone therapy, and then published the exchange for her readers before claiming that such teachers are “causing an untold amount of damage to our kids.” She included a screenshot of the educator’s LinkedIn account.


Studies show that trans people are more likely to experience mental health struggles, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and thoughts of suicide, than cisgender people. Puberty blockers and gender-affirming therapies, which are safe and effective, are correlated with better mental health outcomes for trans people, and teens who are able to access gender-affirming therapy typically have better mental health outcomes than trans people who have to wait until adulthood. Major governing medical bodies, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have endorsed gender-affirming care for youth. 

But despite all the science and widespread medical endorsements, the far right is still stoking fears about transness. Just last week, Walsh called for the execution of doctors who provide gender-affirming care for minors. 

“As far as I’m concerned, mutilating and castrating children should be legally considered a capital crime and it should earn the prescribed penalty for such crimes,” Walsh said. “But if we can’t have that, then prison will have to suffice.” 

Walsh’s increasingly unhinged and incendiary rhetoric is echoed by many prominent right-wing figures who are openly attacking people in the LGBTQ community and those who protect them. Charlie Kirk, the founder of conservative advocacy nonprofit Turning Point USA, seemingly implied transgender people should be lynched in a segment slamming Lia Thomas, a trans swimmer who’s received immense far-right backlash for racing on Penn State University’s women’s team. (It’s a myth that being trans makes you better at sports.)


“These people are sick… I blame the decline of American men,” Kirk said. “Someone should have just took care of it [sic] the way we used to take care of things in the 1950s or 60s.”

Turning Point USA did not respond when VICE News reached out to confirm what Kirk meant by his statement. 

In less public spaces online, such rhetoric is mixed with much more violent commentary. 

Over a two-day period last month, the researchers from Advance Democracy found violent threats being made on multiple platforms where far-right extremists typically gather, including 4chan, Gab, Truth Social, and other fringe message boards.

On 4chan, users discussed a New York Times article about teachers who knew that a student was transgender but did not tell the child’s parents. “Your kids cannot get groomed by strangers, if they are groomed first by teachers in the safety of the classroom,” one user wrote.

“The solution is murder,” another anonymous 4chan user commented. 

On Truth Social, the platform controlled by former president Donald Trump, one user responded to a Libs of TikTok post referencing a Tennessee teacher who had a pride flag in her classroom, writing: “And if a teacher talks to a child about sex, gender or sexual preferences they are not a teacher, but a groomer.”

Another Truth Social user commented: “If your students know your sexuality then you are probably a predator.”


The same story about the Tennessee teacher was discussed on the fringe message board known as The Donald, where a user commented, “you should be getting killed for teaching people’s kids that shit while trying to hide the fact that you are.” 

All this can have a chilling effect in hospitals and in schools, ultimately making it increasingly difficult for LGBTQ students to access safety and support. When far-right figures Matt Walsh and Chaya Raichik targeted Vanderbilt last September by tweeting false accusations that healthcare providers at the clinic “castrate, sterilize, and mutilate minors,” the administrators took down the website for the transgender health clinic.

“Walsh is making the environment a lot less safe for LGBTQ people, for our doctors,” Media Matters LGBTQ director Ari Drennen, who’s been targeted by Walsh herself, told VICE News. “I’ve seen a lot of chilling effects from doctors who are unwilling to defend gender-affirming care as bills move through state legislatures this year.” 

In 2022, more than 171 anti-trans bills—and more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills—were introduced in at least 33 states across the U.S., including Oklahoma, Florida, Alaska, Arizona, Utah, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Experts say they expect 2023 to be just as bad, if not worse. “It is already shaping up to be another cruel and record-breaking year,” stated the Trans Legislation Tracker, an open-source site that tracks proposed and passed anti-trans legislation.  


The same kind of chilling effect could be happening in school districts, according to Nordin. 

“People look at Eau Claire and think, ‘Look at the attacks that happened there; we don’t want that,’ so they are bending to this pressure,” Nordin said, adding that some school boards have decided, for example, that they won’t use a student’s preferred pronouns unless there’s parental consent—all because they don’t want to get the same level of harassment as Eau Claire. 

“People look at Eau Claire and think, ‘Look at the attacks that happened there; we don’t want that,’ so they are bending to this pressure.”

“It makes me sad for those kids when these districts choose to go a way that marginalizes them further,” Nordin said. “It was hard but we stood for our kids and ultimately we’re not troubled by this.”

Drennen also pointed out that the situation is even worse for LGBTQ professionals, who now have to consider whether it’s safe to “be their full selves.”

“We don’t even think about how straight teachers are able to bring their whole lives into school—talking about normal life, their homes, their partners—without fearing some radicalizing zealot,” Drennen said.

In Eau Claire, police ultimately concluded that the threatening email that Nordin received last March was sent by a man in California who likely wasn’t planning on attending the school board meeting. 

“The police felt fairly strongly that the threat wasn’t credible but they were in full agreement that you have to take it seriously,” Nordin said. “Until you know that it’s not somebody who can do something you have to treat it as serious because it only takes one to have a tragedy on your hands.”

In the spring, Nordin was re-elected onto the board, and the far-right, anti-trans candidates were defeated. Today, the board continues to support LGBTQ students and “we don’t out students just to out them,” Nordin said.

“It drives me crazy to think about how these are children—and some of our most marginalized—who need support and welcome and safety from us,” Nordin said. “Why are we as adults attacking kids?”

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.