Lebsack: Santa Ana Unified School District Stops Promoting “Trevor Project” Crisis Hotlines Due to Liability Issues

By:Brenda Lebsack

In April 2023, Santa Ana Unified School District removed the Trevor Project Crisis Hotlines from posters at all K-12 schools, as well as from counselors’ business cards. I watched it happen.

They did so because in February 2023, I and others showed the Superintendent and board members screenshots from TrevorSpace, an online chat site recommended to students through the Trevor Project. The screenshots revealed TrevorSpace could easily be abused by online predators taking advantage of naïve kids, especially kids in crisis. TrevorSpace advertises itself as a place to meet LGBT friends. It says that it is an affirming international community for LGBT young people ages 13 to 24.

I also brought evidence of these chat spaces to the Pacific Justice Institute. In response, the law firm wrote a letter to the District Superintendent and board members stating TrevorSpace could be a serious liability issue for the school district. The organization informed the district that its promotion of the Trevor Project crisis hotlines violated state and federal laws (California Education Code section § 51513 and 20 U.S. Code § 1232h). The district did not reply to the letter but shortly ceased promoting the Trevor Project hotlines.

I saw TrevorSpace chat clubs firsthand, because I texted the number that was on the poster in my school’s elementary bathrooms. I pretended to be a child and said, “I’m unsure of my gender and scared about puberty; what should I do?”

The Trevor Project gave me a referral to TrevorSpace. Trevor Project asked me for my age, but I did not give it. Even though it is supposed to be for 13 to 24-year-olds, the Trevor Project never verified if I was old enough to access the website before referring it to me. In order to get into TrevorSpace.org, I gave the date of birth of a 13-year-old. In a matter of seconds, I had full access to their chat clubs and online participants. I am in my 50s, so it is obvious that anyone can get into this space and have full access to kids.

A screenshot of The Trevor Project website homepage. (Screenshot via thetrevorproject.org)

The chat clubs I saw were startling. I saw a Witchcraft Club, a Furries Club, and A Gay Men’s Club with the tagline: “Let’s talk about boys!” I was also given access to Regressors Space (pretend to be a younger age/age identity), Guilt and Secrets Club, Polyamory Club, Nonbinary Pals, Roommates Squad, Chosen Family Club, and others. The organization Gays Against Groomers checked out TrevorSpace and called it a “pedophile’s paradise.”

I also saw a message in TrevorSpace that said, “Ask Sam Brinton Anything.” Mr. Brinton headed advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project in 2019. He identifies as gender fluid and uses “they and them” pronouns.

Sam Brinton

He is also known to advocate for every sexual kink imaginable such as: bondage, sadomasochism, adult babies, diaper lovers, pup play, primal play, temperature play, degradation, and flogging. He teaches adult classes on how to safely choke one’s partner, use wrist restraints, harnesses, and other fetishes. Mr. Brinton was appointed by President Biden in January 2022 as deputy assistant secretary for the nation’s nuclear waste at the U.S. Department of Energy, but was either fired or resigned in December 2022 after being charged with stealing women’s luggage in airports.

The Trevor Project claims to “save young lives,” while potentially placing kids who identify as LGBT in harm’s way of online sexual predators. This is very significant, because California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta, quotes the organization multiple times in his legal alert letter to all California school districts, to explain why lying to parents about students’ gender identity is necessary in order to keep them “safe.” But clearly, Mr. Bonta’s quoted resources (Trevor Project/TrevorSpace) are “not safe” for students. So how could anyone trust his conclusions that deceiving parents is in their best interest?

Mr. Bonta’s letter quotes Trevor Project’s National Survey of LGBTQ on Youth Mental Health (2022) and lists the dangers of coming out to adverse parents. However, Mr. Bonta does not mention Trevor Project’s 2019 Mental Health Survey, which claimed the existence of over 100 sexualities. When I asked Trevor Project, in an email, to provide a list of the 100+ sexualities, they refused.

As an Adapted PE Teacher in seven elementary schools in Santa Ana Unified School District of Orange County, California, I am grateful that my district leadership trusts their own common sense rather than blindly trusting government officials’ recommendations of the Trevor Project. They followed the wise protocol of “better safe than sorry,” especially when it involves children entrusted to their care.

An earlier version of this article appeared last month in the Epoch Times.

About the author: Brenda Lebsack has been in public education for 30 years. She has a bachelor of science in human services from Cal State-Fullerton University, a teaching credential from San Jose State University, a master’s degree in special education from Chapman University, and an adapted PE authorization from Azusa Pacific University. She served as an elected member of the Orange Unified School District Board of Education from 2016 to 2020.


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