Hate group says nonprofit is “deviant and abusive” for trying to save LGBTQ+ lives

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Mat Staver

Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC 2.0 license)

The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization serving LGBTQ+ youth, has been called a “deviant and abusive pedophile” group by Mat Staver, leader of the Liberty Counsel (SLPC), a Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) designated anti-LGBTQ+ hate group that opposes any expansion of queer civil rights.

Staver targeted the organization in his recent rant against the Equality Act, legislation that would enshrine LGBTQ+ protections into pre-existing federal civil rights law. Staver claims the law would offer legal protections for “over 550 sexual deviancies — including pedophilia.” It doesn’t.

“Liberty Counsel is fighting the Jezebellian evil attempting to corrupt our children and culture,” Staver wrote in a March 22 post filled with dishonest distortions and mischaracterizations about TrevorSpace, the organization’s youth chatrooms. “Instead of promoting lifesaving ideals, the Trevor Project promotes extreme sexual deviancy,” Staver added, noting that the anti-trans group Gays Against Groomers has called the chatrooms “a pedophile’s paradise.”

“The Trevor Project[‘s TrevorSpace] chatrooms bills itself as open to any 13–24-year-old, thus putting minor children together with adults to discuss sex,” Staver claimed. “Trevor Project does not verify age, and thus anyone of any age can, and does, participate in the chat rooms meant for troubled and vulnerable children and teens.”

Staver is correct that anyone of any age can access the site even though it requires users to enter their birthdate. However, he then mischaracterizes many of the themed chatrooms in TrevorSpace, falsely stating that they’re all geared toward sexual activities. (TrevorSpace’s policies explicitly forbid unlawful, obscene, sexually explicit, and “otherwise objectionable” content, and the site has moderators and reporting policies to stop such content.)

Staver wrote, “Trevor Project chat rooms include things like a Polyamory Club for people who have multiple sexual partners; and a ‘Furries United’ club for people who dress like cats, dogs, and other animals to act out bestiality fantasies with a human partner. Also included is a ‘Regressors Space,’ where people take sexual pleasure from pretending to be or be with a young child; a ‘Guilt and Secrets Club,’ where users share and discuss shameful sexually explicit encounters; and the ‘Gay Men Club,’ which bills itself as ‘for gay men only!’ — which reveals its pedophiliac intentions with the headline ‘Let’s talk about boys!’”

Polyamory refers to people who have more than one romantic attachment; the term doesn’t refer to sex. Furries are people who pretend to be animals; the practice is playful and isn’t inherently sexual. Regression refers to people who explore different states of mind associated with being younger, usually for escapism and stress relief; regression practitioners explicitly state that the practice isn’t sexual. As for the “Guilt and Secrets” and “Gay Men Club,” neither one is specifically geared towards sexual conversations, and”boys” is a widely used slang term that refers to males of any age.

“[If] the ‘Equality Act,’ passes, children will be fair game for The Trevor Project or any of the other deviant and abusive pedophile organizations,” Staver falsely claims. “That’s because [the Equality Act] specifically protects participants in sexual deviance — including pedophiles. The bill specifies that it protects members of the “LGBTQ” community. The ‘Q’ in LGBTQ refers to ‘queer,’ which, by definition, includes about 550 sexually deviant paraphilias — including pedophilia.”

The Equality Act makes no mention of pedophilia or “sexually deviant paraphilias” (which are also known as fetishes or kinks). The proposed bill would simply add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of anti-discrimination legislation.

For decades, Staver and other right-wingers have falsely claimed that the LGBTQ+ movement seeks to welcome, legalize, and protect pedophiles — this is an outright lie meant to disgust people into violently opposing queer people, their allies, and LGBTQ+ social advancements. Queerness predominantly involves individuals’ self-perceived sexual orientation and gender identity rather than paraphilias, which are also known as fetishes or kinks.

The Liberty Counsel has claimed that LGBTQ+ “pedophiles” seek to “indoctrinate” kids and society at large to embrace and reward “perversion” and “harmful sexual behavior.” The group says same-sex marriage causes disease and destroys “our very social fabric.” It also calls homosexuals “immoral” and “unnatural,” the SLPC noted.

Others on the right have previously equated the Trevor Project with pedophilia, implying that an organization reaching out to LGBTQ teens in crisis is the same as a child sex abuser having sexually charged conversations with minors, or as if any conversation involving LGBTQ identities is inherently pornographic.

The far-right organization Moms for Liberty, the anti-LGBTQ X account Libs of TikTok, right-wing commentator James Lindsay, and other right-wingers have all accused the Trevor Project of sexually preying on children.

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