Amy Cannava, chair of the National Association Of School Psychologists’ (NASP) LGBTQI2-S Committee, participated in discussions on the internal message board for the Pride Liberation Project (PLP). The group’s “Resources For Outed Students” section advised “students who are facing familial rejection or need to leave their home for another reason” to “[r]each out to Amy (she/her) immediately. They work with Safe Space NOVA, are an adult, and can provide you with much more information. They are also confidential.”
The section went on to say that PLP could rehome students who did not like their parents, as well as pay them money and have an adult pick them up to take them to their new lives. It also said the group could provide false documentation to hide children’s whereabouts while they participated in gay activities. “In the event of you needing to leave your home, we can provide you with emergency housing from a supportive, Queer friendly adult,” it said. It added: “We will work with other supportive adult organizations in the region to find you someone who can provide you a kind and affirming home.”
PLP was the subject of glowing national media attention September 27 when it claimed that it got 12,000 students to walk out of class to protest draft guidance from Virginia’s Department of Education that said schools should not hide a student’s gender transition for parents, and that schools should accommodate a student’s gender transition, but do so only with the permission of parents.
That same day, NASP published a blog post by Cannava describing her efforts to undermine the state initiative, which she described as “horrific.”
“This generation of youth is more politically informed and aware than I can wrap my head around. These kids know their basic human rights have been challenged by the state department of education, and even worse, the state has used fancy words which make the policy reversal seem like it’s in the best interest of ‘all’ children and families,” she wrote. She demanded that school districts shield staff members who ignore the guidance, asking administrators, “How will you defend staff who continue to act in the best interest of students, who are consistent with professional ethics but now in violation of impending policy?”
“I want to see a kid in a home with food and shelter and insurance and support, but I also don’t want to lose kids to death. … You have to sometimes break rules to do good for kids.”
Cannava, who works as a counselor at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, told The Daily Wire: “School staff are not at liberty to speak to the press.”
But she has spoken freely in other public forums. In a September 2020 podcast called “Out, What Now?” she said, “There comes a point unfortunately for many of these kids where they have to make a choice between their life and their family. And it shouldn’t be that way, but I want to see a kid in a home with food and shelter and insurance and support, but I also don’t want to lose kids to death.”
“I will not deny the fact that I have put parents in their place in my office or at school. And people around me go, ‘can you do that?’ And I go, ‘I don’t know but I just did. If I’m not here tomorrow, you know that I can’t,’” she continued. “You have to sometimes break rules to do good for kids.”
“I had a record day where five kids came out to me. I said ‘this is amazing and exhausting all at the same time.’ … Most of the time it’s like, ‘I think I’m trans,’ which really means ‘I am trans,’” she said.
In a July 2022 episode of the same podcast, she described evading requirements for parental permission. “I recognize that parental consent is a big deal, but when I’m doing anything LGBT, I don’t worry about that. … Let’s be honest, it’s an electronic permission slip. You type in a parent’s name and I’m like ‘oh that parent signed consent.’ There’s no actual signature.”
“I do love my neuro- and gender-diverse kids, those are like my favorite,” she said.
When it comes to her own sexuality, she is pansexual, she said. “I identify as queer but I’m attracted to a very small but growing percentage of the population, and so more trans-masculine non-binary folx who may or may not like women… When I’m dating more trans-masculine people, one of the first things I ask or even when I go out with them is ‘how out are you and what are you out as?’ which is the same thing I ask my students.”
Jordan Costen-Sumpter, the executive director of Safe Space NOVA, told The Daily Wire, “Safe Space NOVA has no role in ‘rehoming’ and this has been made clear to the PLP prior to now and reiterated again today. PLP is a student-run organization. It is separate from Safe Space NOVA though many of the youth participate in both.”
“Amy is not affiliated with PLP. She has corrected some of the misinformation the youth have shared on the Discord server when she has the opportunity to, but the PLP Discord is not monitored by us nor do we have any role in their decisions,” she said.
However, in the materials reviewed by The Daily Wire, which were on the private server of an ostensibly youth-led group, Cannava’s role was not limited to correcting misinformation. In one post, she said she was looking for kids “13-15 (minors must have parental consent) looking to be interviewed on camera late next week about their experience has [sic] trans, gender nonconforming, gender fluid, non-binary, gender queer etc. in schools. Interested? DM me!”
NASP oversees the credentialing of school psychologists for many school districts, and Cannava has provided LGBTQ training that psychologists can use to meet their training requirements. Katherine Cowan, a spokeswoman for NASP, said, “Neither NASP nor Amy condone efforts to provide monetary or housing support to minors who are in safe home environments.”
“I identify as queer but I’m attracted to a very small but growing percentage of the population, and so more trans-masculine non-binary folx.”
“When our ethical standards are in conflict with policy or law, our standards encourage school psychologists to advocate for change in such policies/laws. Advocacy is not breaking the law. Amy is not in violation of either the law or our standards,” she told The Daily Wire.
She did not respond to a question about whether the view that the Virginia draft policy contradicts NASP ethics means that NASP believes gender transition should be hidden from parents. She also did not respond to questions about why conservative states should use NASP credentialing, a situation that draws parallels to the National School Board Association — which lost half of its membership after imploding its credibility by working with Democrats to minimize the role of parents in schools.
Cannava said in an NASP podcast — in which she advocated for a person with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome who became transgender at age 11 — that the group was “in the process of revising our transgender position statement to support gender diverse youth and that should be published in the next year and it includes … hearing the person and providing access and validation to their voice.”
In the “Out, Now What?” podcast, Cannava — whose Instagram page features anal condoms next to a logo saying “Protect Trans Kids” — said she was working with a state delegate “on a child protection bill that would make it illegal to not affirm.” She referred to Governor Glenn Youngkin as “Trumpkin” and said his assistant superintendent for education belonged to a “hate group,” prefacing a lengthy attack on the official with, “let’s see if I’m employed next year.”
A leader of PLP separately said of disobeying the state policy: “They can say you have to implement these, but if there’s no enforcement mechanism, you’re not gonna do s***.”
Charles Pyle, a spokesman for the Department of Education, told the Daily Wire school districts could face lawsuits. “Any parent, custodian, or legal guardian of a pupil attending the public schools in a school division who is aggrieved by an action of the school board may, within thirty days after such action, petition the circuit court having jurisdiction in the school division to review the action of the school board,” he said.
Erika Sanzi of Parents Defending Education, which advocates for parental rights, told the Daily Wire it was no surprise that ideological school staff were behind the supposedly organic student group. “Adults with an agenda know that students serve as excellent foot soldiers and this is especially true when school employees work in coordination with outside activist entities like the Pride Liberation Group. There was never any doubt that this was adult-driven, but the details of the dishonesty and willingness to manipulate children are egregious,” she said.