Oct 3, 2022 - Technology

Trevor Project returns donation from software firm

Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley, speaking at the Loveloud festival in 2018.

Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley speaks at the LOVELOUD Festival in 2018. Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

The Trevor Project, which operates a crisis line for LGBTQ youth, said Friday it would return a $25,000 donation from Gaggle, a maker of software to monitor students' online activity.

Why it matters: The decision shows the challenges that tech companies and nonprofits face in trying to decide who to work with and under what circumstances.

At issue: Critics of the relationship, including Evan Greer of Fight For the Future, a digital privacy advocacy group, said they were concerned that software like Gaggle's can place LGBTQ students at risk by identifying online activity that can out students to parents and teachers.

What they're saying: The Trevor Project responded on social media saying that its general philosophy is that "having a seat at the table enables us to positively influence how companies engage with LGBTQ young people had initially agreed to work with Gaggle because it "saw an opportunity to have a meaningful impact to better protect LGBTQ students."

  • "In light of concerns about Gaggle's software having a role in negatively impacting LGBTQ students, we’ve made the decision to return the $25K donation from the company and end our engagement," the Trevor Project said in a statement. "We hear and understand the concerns, and we hope to work alongside schools and institutions to ensure they are appropriately supporting LGBTQ youth and their mental health."
  • Greer, who had been pushing for Trevor Project to sever ties with Gaggle, praised the organization in a tweet for "so swiftly doing the right thing."
  • Gaggle issued a statement reading in part: "Over the last nine months, our partnership with the Trevor Project helped us to better protect students in the LGBTQ+ community. We’re disappointed that the Trevor Project has decided to pause our collaboration. However, we are grateful for the opportunity we have had to learn and work with them and will continue with our mission of protecting all students regardless of how they identify."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Gaggle.

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