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YouTube Is Restricting LGBTQ Videos—Even When They Don't Contain Sensitive Content

The company was dragged online because of the snafu and said today that the videos were "incorrectly labeled."

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

In their video for "Alligator," Canadian singers Tegan and Sara are basically wearing as much clothing as humanly possible. But apparently, for YouTube, that's a little too racy for a child's eyes.

The video was flagged as containing "sensitive matter" and restricted by the online video platform, and it wasn't the only one. YouTube is now scrambling to fix the company's "restricted mode"—which works as a voluntary filter to weed out inappropriate and unpleasant videos for a user—after it appeared to target LGBTQ videos.

Restricted videos include Tyler Oakley's newly uploaded "Eight Black LGBT Trailblazers Who Inspire Me," several music videos from Tegan and Sara, Rowan Ellis, advice platforms like "Everyone is Gay," videos discussing bisexuality, and videos discussing trans issues.

And people are pissed.

"Our videos for Alligator, That Girl + U-turn still restricted," Tegan and Sara tweeted. "None have 'sensitive content' in them unless us dancing is 'sensitive'."


Rowan Ellis, an LGBTQ vlogger, made a video in which she states that 40 of her videos have been pulled and asks if "YouTube is anti-LGBT." In the video, Ellis says that YouTube is one of the only places queer and trans youth can find advice and support, and that limiting their access to videos like this is dangerous. She also questions the underlying reason that the videos were targeted.

"I think it's really important to look at why LGBT content has been deemed as inappropriate," she said. "This is something that goes far beyond just a mistake that YouTube might have made, that they're going to draw attention to and fix later. This is something that's getting me really, really angry."

After being dragged online for the past week, YouTube released a statement through Twitter in an attempt to clarify what occurred.

"The intention of restricted mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of viewers who want a more limited experience," it reads. "LGBTQ+ videos are available in restricted mode but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be."

"Sorry for all the confusion with Restricted Mode," YouTube later stated. "Some videos have been incorrectly labeled and that's not right. We're on it! More to come."


Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.