The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) links to chat rooms on its website for LGBTQ+ minors to discuss sex and gender with adult moderators present — without their parents necessarily knowing.
The ADE directed minors to two different websites: Q Chat Space and Gender Spectrum. Both organizations rely on adult volunteers or staff to facilitate their chat rooms, and they don’t verify the age of those joining the chats beyond asking applicants for a birth date. The Daily Wire reached out to ADE about the two chat rooms. As of press time, no one from the department has responded to our inquiry.
One of the ADE-approved chat room organizations, Q Chat Space, is a collaboration of Planned Parenthood, the LGBTQ+ support network organization PFLAG, and LGBTQ+ community center organization CenterLink. Q Chat Space recruits chat facilitators from different organizations across the country: the LGBTQ Centers of Orange County and Long Beach, Center on Halsted, Smyal, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Jasmyn, Time Out Youth, Youth Outlook, and Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation. Their chats are open to minors ages 13 to 19.
Q Chat Space’s upcoming chat room topics range from sex and gender — “Gender-Affirming Hairstyles & Clothes,” “Coming Out,” and “For Trans/Non-Binary Youth: Hormones! What Do They Do, What Don’t They Do?” — to children’s traditional hobbies and interests, like “Beasts of the Wild: Favorite Animal Open Discussion” and “Cryptids and Creepy Pasta.”
By comparison, Gender Spectrum offered chat rooms to a wider range of ages starting as young as 10 and up to adults, such as parents and family members of LGBTQ+ youth. The group named the education materials giant Pearson as its “champion,” or top, partner; it also identified the Biden Foundation as a key partner in a recent national campaign advocating for family and community acceptance of transgender youth. Senior Director Joel Baum was also a contributor to Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice initiative.
Gender Spectrum acknowledged that it supplied K-12 schools and affiliate organizations like the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) with gender identity ideology resources like a “gender support plan,” or “GSP,” something the New York Post reported on at length last October.
In June 2020, CNN featured Gender Spectrum in an analytical piece about children defying gender norms during the remote learning of the pandemic. Gender Spectrum’s director of online programming, Jenna Redmond, told CNN that the group’s chat rooms allowed children to focus on their gender identity and childhood without the additional social pressures of school.
“Taking away these layers of anxiety and trauma that many youth experience in their school settings is allowing a spaciousness,” stated Redmond. “They finally have some room to just exist and be a kid.”
According to Gender Spectrum, their pre-teen group for children ages 10 to 12 is full enough that it warranted a waitlist.
Libs of TikTok publicized the ADE chat rooms, noting that the chat room hosted by Q Chat Space has a quick escape feature, which could be used by minors to hide activity from their parents.
Arizona Dept of Education provides a resource link for LGBT students. The link takes you to an online chat room with LGBT adults and teens where they talk about sex and gender.
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
Q Chat Space also allows minors to receive a “discreet” text notification about each upcoming chat.
It appears that these chat rooms are a small part of ADE Superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s campaign promises. Hoffman advocated for progressive LGBTQ+ youth initiatives since she first campaigned to become superintendent. At one point, she pledged to implement support groups and activities for LGBTQ+ students.
I'm advocating for clear policies, support groups, & activities for LGBTQ students & families. Protecting the right of LGBTQ students to learn in an environment that rejects bullying & discrimination, welcomes family diversity, and promotes inclusivity must be a priority for AZ. pic.twitter.com/kIHw564wHe
— Kathy Hoffman (@kathyhoffman_az) August 10, 2018
In March, Hoffman expressed opposition to two Arizona legislature bills prohibiting gender reassignment procedures for minors and barring biological males from competing in women’s sports. Hoffman called the legislation “bigoted government overreach” and “hateful.”