Several parents and teachers in California issued complaints to police about The Trevor Project and its affiliated TrevorSpace chatrooms. Minors as young as 13 are engaging in discussions with adults about gender and sexuality. Parents are concerned these chat rooms are a sexual predator's playground and it's putting youth in potential danger.
Celeste Fiehler is a parent in Coachella Valley, California, and head of the Moms For Liberty chapter in Riverside County, according to the Epoch Times. Fiehler filed a report with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in July after learning Desert Sands Unified School District was promoting The Trevor Project to elementary students on its website.
Fiehler said she found what she believes to be predators in chatrooms with minors and is concerned that it could lead to children being trafficked, exploited and harmed. At the very least they are grooming young children.
The Trevor Project did not respond to the Epoch Times for this article.
According to the Trevor Project website, it states that their purpose is to help struggling LGBT youth and provide counseling. On the homepage, there is a link to the TrevorSpace chatroom site that invites LGBTQ young people ages 13-24 to sing up for free and start chatting.
Investigation Into the Organization
Riverside County Sheriff's Department told Epoch Times that they did investigate, but the case has now been closed. Their anti-human trafficking team looked into the complaint but said they found no criminal behavior in the chatrooms. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said they will continue to monitor the chatrooms for criminal activity. Bianco warns parents that all social media can be dangerous and to keep a close eye on what your children are doing on the internet.
"These parents, of course, they're angry, and they should be angry," he said, "but law enforcement has absolutely nothing to do with this other than looking into it to make sure there's no criminal [activity]. There's absolutely nothing criminal about that website or even having the chatrooms. This is no different than Facebook or Snapchat."
Bianco encourages everyone to start voting for people who will make this sort of behavior a crime.
We Need to be Protecting Children
Fiehler said she is disappointed that the police couldn't do more, but she won't stop warning other parents and school boards about these dangerous chatrooms.
"Your children come first, and that's it. We should be protecting them in any way that we can," she said to the Epoch Times. "We're desensitizing ourselves to sexualizing children to where we think this is not a big deal... or these chat rooms are therapy... We need to stick to our morals and protect our children."
In order to dig deeper into the TrevorSpace chatrooms, Fiehler created a fake account posing as a 16-year-old. She points out that anyone could be lying about their ages, just like she did. Adults are having conversations with children about sex, gender and dating in these chatrooms often without parental knowledge.
Fiehler found a chatroom with adults requesting to private message minors after they posted suggestive photos of themselves, as well as chatrooms for different kinks like "Littles", and chatrooms targeting people with mental health conditions like DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder which is a mental health condition previously known as multiple personality disorder.
One chatroom is called "Chosen Family." It's described as, "A place to find a chosen family who loves and supports you. Meet people who are like siblings, parents, etc. to you."
She saw someone over 18 responded to an underage boy's request about wanting a boyfriend. Fiehler also claims she found content about bestiality on the site and reported it to the police.
Removing the Links from the School's Website
Fiehler continues to urge all school districts to stop promoting organization like The Trevor Project and TrevorSpace and encourages parents to monitor and report suspicious online activity to law enforcement.
She learned that The Trevor Project's "trained counselors" are just volunteers and professional counseling experience is not required.
According to The Trevor Project website, "You don’t need a degree or a license to become a trained Trevor counselor, but the role does require passion and commitment.” It also says volunteer counselors must be at least 18, “have passion for supporting LGBTQ young people” and live in the United States. They must also have access to a private space, make a one-year commitment, and agree to work a three-hour shift once a week."
After bringing all of this to the school district's attention, school officials removed all the links from their website for The Trevor Project and TrevorSpace.
The Trevor Project receives funding from more than 200 "corporate partners" including including Google, Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy’s, Puma, and Lululemon, which have each donated more than $1 million to the organization, according to the Epoch Times.
Kenny Snell, a Desert Sands high school teacher said he is concerned about similar content being promoted if groups aren't properly vetted going forward and encourages teachers to speak out in their districts.
Teacher Reports The Trevor Project
Another teacher, Brenda Lebsack, asked the Santa Ana Police Department to investigate The Trevor Project about a year prior. She told the Epoch Times that there are posters advertising the Project in the bathrooms and hallways at several schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District.
Lebsack pretended to be a gender confused child who was afraid to talk to her parents and texted the National Suicide Hotline. They referred her to The Trevor Project and was sent a survey about gender identity.
According to the Epoch Times, "The survey asks respondents to select from agender, boy/man, genderfluid, genderqueer, girl/woman, intersex, non-binary, trans, trans masculine, trans feminine, two spirit, prefer not to identify, or “Write in how you identify.” It also asks about sexual orientation such as asexual, bisexual or pansexual, gay or lesbian, heterosexual or straight, questioning or unsure, or other."
Santa Ana community members and leaders asked school trustees at a board meeting to investigate both The Trevor Project and TrevorSpace chatrooms, but just three days later, the school's superintendent Jerry Almendarez sent out a letter resolution recognizing Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day and Nov. 20 as Transgender Day of remembrance "to honor the many achievements and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community," according to Epoch Times.
Watch Out for Online Predators
The Epoch Times also spoke to Jon Uhler who is a licensed professional counselor and has counseled sex offenders and sexual abuse victims. He said online chatrooms like these are a perfect breeding ground for sexual predators seeking to harm young people.
"You take kids that are suicidal—therefore probably sexually abused—[and] kids who have been sexualized because of the internet, and you’re going to start discussing what with them?” Uhler asked. “It’s a predators’ playground.”
Uhler said he is concerned that even if everyone abides by the age guidelines, there are still 24-year-ols potentially interacting with 13-year-olds and having conversations about sexuality and gender. He worries that chatrooms like "DID Littles" are luring in curious and vulnerable children, to chat with "sexually deviant adults."
Chatrooms like "Chosen Family" use similar techniques as cults in the sense that cults separate their recruits from family and friends in order to isolate and control them.
"Cults often use euphemistic terms such as “community” and “family” to set themselves apart and start talking about outsiders in pejorative, derogatory, and dangerous ways to create an “us versus them” mentality," he said, according to the Epoch Times.
Parents, teachers, school board members and lawmakers need to be aware of these potential dangers in chatrooms and how it's exposing already at-risk youth to more harm.
Lack of Moderation in these Chatrooms
Another parent explored the TrevorSpace chatrooms and was shocked at what she found. Using the pseudonym Rachel Miller to protect the identity of her 16-year-old daughter who identifies as transgender, she told the Epoch Times she saw children as young as 13 talking to adults about porn, bestiality, sexual positions and how to hide it all from your parents.
“I saw kids begging for more moderation to keep them[selves] safe from harassment and trolls, and just very little moderation," she said to the Epoch Times.
One user on TrevorSpace goes by the name 'slutty little kitten' and was teaching minors how to secretly buy chest binders without their parents finding out, Miller said.
Miller urges corporations and individuals who donate to The Trevor Project to learn more about the organization and the potential harm its causing to children.
Originally, she contacted The Trevor Project to get counseling for her daughter but when she asked about "detransitioners" they became dismissive and rude.
“There is no off-ramp,” Miller said to the Epoch Times. “There is a lot of encouragement to transition and to pursue medicalization, but there is absolutely no playbook for what is to happen when you feel uncomfortable with the idea of transition.”
Over in Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, a newly appointed school trustee, Kenny Enney is calling for an external investigation into The Trevor Project by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office.
The school has removed all links associated with The Trevor Project which were previously listed under "Student Resources" on it's website. Enney claims there is a feature in the TrevorSpace chatrooms that allows users to instantly hide chats from their parents.
Enney brought up the chatrooms at a school board meeting and warns that school districts need to be more concerned about legal liability if it was found that a child was harmed as a result of these chatrooms.