Laurel Duggan on May 24, 2022
The Arizona Department of Education (ADOE) directs students to LGBT-themed chatrooms for children as young as ten to discuss gender and sexuality as part of its student resources.
The chatrooms are part of the ADOE’s effort to support LGBT youths, and they were put together with the help of “members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community,” according to the ADOE website. The website directs students to numerous LGBT resources including local clubs, guides for gender transitions and LBGT chatrooms.
Both of the chats linked to by ADOE have moderators, either volunteer or staff, monitoring conversations, some of whom work at LGBT centers.
The Gender Spectrum chatroom advertises online groups for “trans,” “non-binary” and “gender-expansive youth” and can be joined by video, audio or chat. Discussion groups are divided into age groups and facilitated by trained volunteers.
Students aged 13-16 and 17-18 are encouraged to sign up, but the 10-12 age group was at capacity, the website said.
“Gender Spectrum hosts free online groups for pre-teens, teens, parents, caregivers, and other family members and adults,” the description of the chatroom on the ADOE website said. “These groups provide you with the opportunity to connect with others, share experiences, and feel the comfort of a supportive community.”
The other chatroom is called Q Chat Space and is targeted towards LGBT students ages 13 to 19, according to the ADOE website. Chats are facilitated by staff who work at LGBT centers but are not mental health professionals, according to the Q Chat Space website.
The Q Chat Space project is put on in collaboration with Planned Parenthood and two LGBT groups, CenterLink and PFLAG.
The online chat room has a “quick escape” feature in case a kid wants to hide it from their parents. pic.twitter.com/ogCiYtU73i
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) May 23, 2022
The site also has a “quick escape” button feature on the bottom of the page which takes users immediately to a blank Google page.
“A Community for LGBTQ+ Teens … Find and give support, have fun, connect around shared interests and get good information,” the website says. “Chat with like-minded peers in live chats designed for you & by you, facilitated by folks who care.”
The ADOE, Gender Spectrum and Q Chat Space did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.
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