Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Why would the world’s largest fund management corporation support a small UK charity for LGBT+ young people?
Just Like Us is a small UK charity whose stated mission is “to empower young people to champion LGBT+ equality”. It trains teachers to set up ‘Pride Groups’ of LGBT+ students, and It partners with employers to train young LGBT+ volunteers to give school talks and be school role models. Its initial focus was on secondary schools and colleges, but this year it has expanded into primary schools as well. Its School Diversity Week programme was supported by the Department for Education, and sponsored by Facebook, the Daily Telegraph, and JP Morgan.
The School Diversity Week materials that Just for Us produced for primary schools concentrated on normalizing the erosion of sex boundaries for under-12s. In one bizarre example, a math exercise for 5 year olds was obsessed with pronouns
There are significant red flags. Just Like Us promotes drag queen Owen Farrow (aka Divina de Campo) as a celebrity supporter. The fact that the charity believes that a man wearing high heels, ridiculous makeup and false breasts can help schoolchildren challenge gender stereotypes is worrying. There are safeguarding issues, too. Farrow, who claims to be non-binary, introduced Drag Queen Story Time (aimed at 4 to 10 year olds) to Manchester in 2017, and in 2020 he mocked JK Rowling’s concerns about the loss of safe spaces for women and girls. A further safeguarding worry is that Just Like Us is a member of ILGA World, an international organization that lobbies governments to lower the age of consent.
Corporate involvement in the Just Like Us Partnership Programme involves the training of young LGBT+ volunteer ’ambassadors’ to give school and college talks. The Programme is sold to partners as a way “to boost your performance on the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.”
There are 3 “Platinum Partners” identified on the Just Like Us website - Ascential, Travers Smith, and BlackRock. Their involvement offers them more than an opportunity to earn woke points with Stonewall. Ascential’s WGSN brand is a ‘change forecaster’, identifying new market opportunities for clients to exploit. Having access to a new and growing demographic will be a key incentive for its involvement with Just Like Us. Travers Smith is a law firm which aims to be a market leader in trans inclusive policy development. Involvement with Just Like Us will help with its marketing.
BlackRock is on a completely different scale. It is a huge multinational, based in the US. It manages investment funds for clients, with funds under management totaling a massive $9.5 trillion in mid-2021. BlackRock’s CEO, Larry Fink, is famed for promoting socially responsible business, not just within his own organization, but in all the organizations that BlackRock invests in. BlackRock lost some social responsibility cred recently, when environmental groups publicly accused it of greenwashing (It had insisted that all companies should “confront climate change”, yet it retained a $85billion investment in coal). Its support for the Just Like Us Ambassador training programme (with staff time and a £10,000 per year grant) could be helpful in winning some woke points to compensate, but this can hardly be sufficient reason for its involvement.
BlackRock sees ‘inclusion and diversity’ as an important business objective. Increasing workforce diversity, it argues, will boost productivity and therefore profits. This is easy to see in relation to biological sex - more women in leadership positions does usually result in improved organizational performance. But with ‘gender’ diversity? Phil Bunce, a Director of another finance sector giant, Credit Suisse, wears a dress and calls himself Pippa for half the week. His productivity doesn’t change - he’s the same Bunce on the days he calls himself Pippa as on the days he is Phil.
Supporting Just For Us may fit with BlackRock’s ‘inclusion and diversity’ agenda, but there’s a much stronger incentive - to further a wider corporate/political interest in promoting gender identity. BlackRock’s involvement in US politics is huge. Input by its executives into the gender ideology promoting Biden administration is particularly significant. Investment executive Brian Deese heads the National Economic Council, Global investment strategist Mike Pyle is Kamala Harris’ chief economic adviser, and former senior investment adviser Wally Adeyemo is deputy Treasury secretary.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink had been tipped for the key role of Treasury secretary under both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, but he prefers to exert political influence indirectly. He is Co-Chair of the trustees of NYU Langone Health, which runs a Transgender Youth Health Program offering support for “gender-affirming medical interventions, including puberty suppression, gender-affirming hormone treatments, and gender-affirming surgery.” For the latter, young people are referred on to NYU Langone’s huge Transgender Surgery Services unit. Alongside plastic and reconstructive surgeons, urologists, psychiatrists and endocrinologists, the Transgender Surgery team includes 3 paediatric specialists.
Is it a coincidence that BlackRock owns 4.7% of the shares In AbbVie, the manufacturer of puberty blocking drug Lupron, widely prescribed off label in transgender clinics? And how does this shareholding square with its claim to be a pioneer of socially responsible business?
So, BlackRock is not only heavily implicated in the Biden administration and its support for the gender identity industry, but it has a major shareholding in the company that supplies puberty blockers, and its CEO has a key role in a medical centre offering ‘gender-affirming’ surgery for adolescents.
Following the money back from a small LGBT+.charity for young people in the UK certainly leads to some revealing, and disturbing, places.
Alan Neale is a retired university lecturer and researcher, now a full time carer. He likes to believe that patriarchal capitalism's colonisation of our bodies and nature can be halted before it becomes total. He tweets occasionally @canfordheather