Following criticism on Twitter, the Trevor Project last week returned a $25,000 donation from a school surveillance software company whose technologies were allegedly used to weed out LGBTQ2S+ students.
According to the Education Information website The 74, the Trevor Project, an American youth suicide prevention organization, has partnered with Gaggle since May. Gaggle, which creates software used by schools to monitor student behavior online, has grown in popularity during the pandemic with the advent of remote learning. Its technology flags certain keywords in student communications, and those terms include words like “gay” and “lesbian.”
Gaggle’s products reportedly resulted in at least one Minnesota trans student being reported to their parents.
After news of the partnership was made public last week, Evan Greer, director of digital advocacy organization Fight for the Future, called on The Trevor Project to “immediately cut ties with Gaggle and apologize to young gay men.” and trans that you are supposed to serve.
“Strengthening surveillance of schools is the OPPOSITE of what any organization supporting LGBTQ2S+ youth should be doing right now,” Greer wrote in a popular Twitter thread, referring to the historic number of bills targeting trans youth introduced in the United States over the past year. She called on The Trevor Project to “return the donation, remove Gaggle from its website and apologize.”
Greer also pointed out that partnering with Gaggle could help continue the persecution of LGBTQ2S+ youth. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued a directive in February ordering the state Department of Family and Child Protective Services to investigate parents who allow their children to transition for “abuse of children”. She noted that the software could actually help Abbott’s attempt to break up hotbeds of trans affirmation.
“In states like Texas, law enforcement could easily order a school district to use Gaggle to monitor student communications regarding LGBTQ2S+ or trans content, then use it to investigate and prosecute families who try just to love their children,” she said. .
Students affected by the software expressed similar concerns. “People who want to stand up for Gaggle can just point to their little Trevor Project and say, ‘See, they’ve got the backing of ‘The Gays’, so it’s okay, actually,'” Teeth Logsdon-Wallace, 14- former trans student in Minneapolis, said The 74. “And all it does is make it easier to deflect and defend real issues with Gaggle.”
Logsdon-Wallace has personal experience of being monitored by Gaggle programs. The company informed his school counselor and parents after he referenced a previous suicide attempt in a school essay in which he reflected on his mental health.
The student feared that fellow LGBTQ2S+ students would continue to be subjected to the same treatment because of Gaggle’s influence, and that this could have devastating consequences. “I have queer and/or trans friends who are in school, but not with their parents,” he said. “If they want to be open with teachers, Gaggle can create a bad or even dangerous situation for these children if their parents are contacted about what they say.”
Just hours after Greer posted his Twitter feed, The Trevor Project announced that it would end its partnership with Gaggle and return the $25,000 donation.
“Our philosophy is that having a seat at the table allows us to positively influence how businesses engage with LGBTQ2S+ youth, and we initially agreed to work with Gaggle because we saw an opportunity to have significant impact to better protect LGBTQ2S+ students,” Trevor Project said. Extra in a report. “We hear and understand the concerns, and hope to work alongside schools and institutions to ensure they are appropriately supporting LGBTQ2S+ youth and their mental health.”
In a statement, Gaggle said he was “disappointed” with The Trevor Project’s decision, but said the company was “grateful for the opportunity we had to learn and work with them and will continue our mission to protect all students, whatever their status. how they identify.
Greer celebrated the move of the Trevor Project. “The villain here is Gaggle, not The Trevor Project,” she said in a statement. “It is disgusting that Gaggle is wasting its money trying to buy goodwill within the LGBTQ2S+ community while its software is being actively used to cull gay and trans children without their consent, putting their lives at risk. this is the end of Gaggle’s attempted pinkwashing campaign.
The activist further called on school districts to stop “using this harmful software” immediately and urged the Biden administration to “issue guidelines warning schools against using software that grossly violates civil rights.” students”.