Disgraced former Energy Department official Sam Brinton, who lost his job this month after a string of airport luggage thefts, helped craft a platform for school kids that is recommended by the Maine Department of Education.
Brinton, who says he is “non-binary,” turned heads with his unique look and history-making appointment as deputy assistant secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy in the Joe Biden administration.
The appointment was celebrated by liberals as social progress, but it ended in embarrassment after he was arrested for stealing strangers’ luggage at two different airports within the span of a month. Brinton was also photographed wearing the stolen clothes.
Last week, the Daily Mail reported that Brinton, 35, previously worked for the Trevor Project, a non-profit group that advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender causes.
Brinton played a key role in developing controversial policies school policies that require school officials to keep information about student mental health secret from parents. He did so while working at the Trevor Project on government affairs.
The Trevor Project partners with public schools across the country and is one of several resources the Maine Department of Education recommends to Maine students and parents for the prevention of youth suicides.
It operates a counseling hotline for distressed or at-risk youth who are gay, lesbian, or gender dysphoric. But it also hosts an online chat platform — TrevorSpace — where young students can seek out relationships — both platonic and sexual — with strangers.
TrevorSpace describes itself as “the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies,” but the site has no safeguards to prevent adults — potentially even sexual predators — from accessing the platform to interact with vulnerable children.
The live chatting platform allows children as young as 13 to communicate without oversight from their parents about mental health issues, sexual orientation, gender, and sex.
One post, for example, by an anonymous user who claims to be a minor, states: “Is there anyway I can get a chest binder without my parents finding out?”
A chest binder is a device used to physically compress breasts in order to allow a biological female to present as male. The devices can create serious health complications, especially if not fitted properly.
In response to the post, another user, also a minor, instructs the poster to buy gift cards or pre-paid cards for the purchase and to select and company with discreet shipping methods.
Another poster, who is an adult between the ages of 18 and 25, told the minor of a specific company that offers very discreet shipping.
Advice on how to keep secrets from parents is just one of the many services provide by the Maine DOE-endorsed project.
Another section of the state-approved social media site is explicitly dedicated to spurring connections between minor users.
Sometimes Trevor Project users are just looking for anonymous penpals or fellow video game enthusiasts, but other times minors’ posts suggest they are explicitly looking for romantic or sexual encounters.
Nothing prevents adults from using the platform to communicate with minor users, and there are plenty of examples of exactly that occurring on the site.
Last week, for example, a self-described 14-year-old posted, “14 genderfluid lesbian looking for partner and/or friends.”
The Trevor Project poster, whose pronouns are He/Him/His/She/Her/Hers/They/Them/Theirs, reveals that she lives in Missouri and includes various social media handles for anyone to find her and communicate with her.
Within hours, at least one poster purporting to be over the age of 18, had responded to the young girl looking to communicate off the platform.
In another Trevor Space post, a minor girl who says she’s “pansexual” and “genderfluid” posts several pictures of herself and says, “I legit need people, I’m so sad.”
The under-18 poster elicits a response from several adults looking to connect with her within minutes.
“I’d love to be friends! also you’re very pretty,” writes a poster who purports to be over 18.
There are dozens of examples of seemingly troubled or lonely kids crying out on the platform for friendship and attention.
In other instances, users claiming to be minors post links to Google Forms that collect information on users. While the data collection may be entirely innocent, there’s shockingly few safeguards to prevent someone from exploiting the platform for nefarious ends.
Maine’s not the only state where a Department of Education recommends students use the Trevor Project or Trevor Space, and the site has hundreds of thousands of users.
Young users may trust other users on the platform are who they say they are because the platform has been endorsed by authority figures, such as the Maine Department of Education and Maine school personnel.
Parents can inspect the forum by going to TrevorSpace.org.