Peggy McClain, a conservative political activist, has filed a lawsuit against Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman in an effort to shut down a dangerous link on the Arizona Department of Education’s website for children in search of LGBTQ+ resources.
McClain is seeking an injunction, asking the Court to force Hoffman to remove the “Q Chat Space” link, which directs young students, who believe they might be LGBTQ+, to chat rooms. The online chat room provides a “quick escape” feature in case a kid wants to hide it from their parents.
According to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) website, “A Chat Space provides online discussion groups for LGBTQ+ teens ages 13 to 19. It is live and chat-based; there is no video or audio and conversations are facilitated by experienced staff who work at LGBTQ+ centers around the country.”
In a recent interview on the James T. Harris show, Hoffman’s Republican challenger in the 2022 Election, former Superintendent of Public Instruction and Arizona Attorney General, Tom Horne, said the “Q Chat Space” is illegal. Horne said that an Arizona statute prohibits government agencies from encouraging children to hide information from their parents . He said the “escape button” is deliberately designed to do just that.
Tom Horne, running for AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction, discusses Kathy Hoffman’s LGBTQ chat portal plus th https://t.co/AiRJVJ6KTa
— James T Harris (@JamesTHarris) September 12, 2022
The site, belonging to an organization called CenterLink, offers no explanation as to what LGBTQ+ centers provide the ”experienced staff” or what that experience entails.
CenterLink claims to develop “strong, sustainable LGBTQ+ community centers and builds a thriving center network that creates healthy, vibrant communities.”
The Arizona Daily Independent reached out to the ADE in May 2022, when the chatrooms were first discovered by @libsoftiktok, a website that exposes adult abuse of children, asking whether ADE staff members are certified counselors in Arizona or otherwise licensed through ADE in some capacity. The ADE did not respond to our inquiries.
In May, the Arizona Daily Independent reported that a “deeper look into the “Q Space” platform reveals on one webpage that “Q Chat Space facilitators are NOT mental health professionals. If you are in crisis or need help immediately, please use the resources available here.”
Minors in need of help are then directed to ”LGBTQ+ RESOURCES,” including PFLAG and Planned Parenthood.
“Support for Youth of Color” includes:
Rest for Resistance – Online healing space for trans & queer people of color, as well as other stigmatized groups such as sex workers, immigrants, persons with physical and/or mental disabilities, and those living at the intersections of all of the above
Black Trans Advocacy – Provides referrals, case management and direct services to black transgender individuals across US
Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project (BLMP) – Supports Black LGBTQIA+ migrants through community-building, political education, creating access to direct services, and organizing across borders
NQAPIA – Federation of LGBTQ+ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations
WeRNative – Comprehensive health resource for Native youth, by Native youth
CAKE Society Co. – BIPOC trans & gender expansive-led organization that offers a variety of health and wellness-related services to the trans and gender-expansive community
“Support with Religion/Spirituality” includes:
Keshet – Programs and events for LGBTQ+ and ally Jewish teens
Muslims for Progressive Values – Resources for LGBTQ+ Muslims
Queer Crescent – Organization that builds community, culture, safety, healing arts and justice with LGBTQI+ Muslims
Beloved Arise – Resources for youth of any faith background, centered on Christian traditions, teachings and practices
Q Christian Fellowship – Community groups, guides, and resources to cultivate radical belonging for LGBTQ+ Christians and allies
Dignity USA – Chapter-based nonprofit organization that serves LGBT Catholics and their allies
GALVA-108 – International organization for LGBT Hindus and Vaishnava
Sarbat – Volunteer-led group addressing LGBT+ issues from a Sikh perspective
HRC Religion & Faith Resources – Human Rights Campaign’s extensive resource on faith and spirituality for LGBTQ+ people
Institute for Welcoming Resources – List of welcoming Christian congregations, both within the United States and internationally