By Corinne Murdock |
Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is facing a lawsuit for advertising links to chat rooms where minors discuss sex and gender with adults present and without parents necessarily knowing.
The lawsuit, case number CV2022-093889 filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court, requests that ADE remove the chat space from its website. Judge Peter Thompson was assigned the case.
The chat room website advertised by the ADE, Q Chat Space, targets LGBTQ+ youth 13 years and older. It offers a “quick escape” feature that masks a child’s visit to the site by redirecting from the Q Chat Space site to Google’s homepage. The adults facilitating discussions, “Q Chatters,” don’t have to be licensed professionals.
Some of the upcoming chat rooms are: “Sex and Relationships Q&A,” “FOR TRANS/NON-BINARY YOUTH: Activism and Allyship,” and “FOR TRANS/NONBINARY YOUTH: Sex Ed.”
The site has minors offer personal information when signing up, including their sexual orientation, romantic interests, gender identity, email address, birth date, ZIP code, and race.
According to the ADE, Hoffman developed the LGBTQ+ resource page with her Equitable and Inclusive Practices Advisory Council (EIPAC) before launching it last June as part of Pride Month.
The citizen behind the lawsuit, Peggy McClain, claimed that Hoffman violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights provision prohibiting any attempts to encourage or coerce minors to withhold information from their parents. McClain further asserted that the children’s data was vulnerable to hacking and could therefore be sold on the dark web to child predators, noting that some of the adult chat facilitators could be child predators as well.
“By doing the things set forth above, Katherine Hoffman is encouraging the grooming of young children,” stated McClain.
Q Chat Space is a collaborative effort of Planned Parenthood, the LGBTQ+ support network organization PFLAG, and LGBTQ+ community center organization CenterLink.
ADE also directs minors to another chat site similar to the one contested in the lawsuit: Gender Spectrum. That chat site is open to minors aged 10 and older.