The Arizona Department of Education directs students to LGBT-themed chatrooms for children as young as 10 to discuss gender and sexuality as part of its student resources.
The chatrooms are part of the department’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 Arizona Department of Education 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 the state Education Department 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 Arizona Department of Education 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 toward LGBT students ages 13 to 19, according to the state Education Department 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 site also has a “quick escape” button feature at the bottom of the page that 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 Arizona Department of Education, Gender Spectrum, and Q Chat Space did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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