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When students walked out of Virginia high schools last month to protest Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new policy recommendations, instructing schools they cannot keep secrets from parents about the gender pronouns, names, restrooms and locker rooms that their children use, local activists applauded the protest as “student-led” support of the transgender movement.

But a post-protest video debrief, shared with the Fairfax Times, reveals the effort was led by a young adult Democratic Party activist, Aaryan Rawal, guiding the underaged students, with “messaging research,” talking points and resources that help children leave their families. The video debrief includes Rawal speaking to at least six students under the age of 18.

Most disturbing to local parents, Pride Liberation Project (PLP), the organization leading the walkout, shares “#resources-for-outed-students!” with minor children, detailing how “outed and in-crisis students” who want to leave their homes can get a “couple hundred dollars immediately” while they get new housing with a “supportive, Queer friendly adult,” warning the adult “will likely be white.” 

On Twitter, many parents responded to news of the resources with anger and concern for the safety of children, one local parent saying, “There is a term for what they are doing: child trafficking.”

Rawal didn’t return a request for comment. Robert Rigby, a longtime Fairfax County Public Schools teacher and founder of Fairfax Pride, which works with the Pride Liberation Project, responded, “No,” when asked if he housed minors, but didn’t respond to additional questions. Rigby is now a substitute teacher with the Fairfax County school district.

The resource guide for minors, also made available to the Fairfax Times, was published on July 15 on a channel on Discord, a messaging platform popular with youth. The channel targeted students who wanted to leave their homes, and the solutions include staying overnight with adult college students.

“For full transparency, this channel is catered to outed students who are facing familial rejection or need to leave their home for another reason,” reads the resource guide, first revealed by a local journalist and father, Luke Rosiak.

According to state records, the Pride Liberation Project was established on Aug. 12, 2021, by Rawal and has since been transferred to list Sarthak Pathak, a student at the University of Virginia, as director of the corporation. 

In a section titled “Support from Adults,” the guide instructs students to contact a local counselor at Wakefield High School in Arlington,  Amy Cannava, for help, noting: “Reach out to @Amy (she/her) immediately. They work with Safe Space NOVA, are an adult, and can provide you with much more information.”

Cannava is chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Two Spirit (LGBTQI2-S) Committee of the National Association of School Psychologists, based in Bethesda, Md. Cannava declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the professional association said Cannava and the organization don’t give monetary or housing support to “minors who are in safe home environments.”

For children who allegedly “need to leave their home,” the guide offers “Housing Support,” noting: “In the event of you needing to leave your home, we can provide you with emergency housing from a supportive, Queer friendly adult.” 

It cautions: “Please note that this adult will likely be white.” 

In the guide, Pride Liberation Project offers to “secure someone to take you in within 1-2 days,” working with “other supportive adult organizations in the region to find you someone who can provide you a kind and affirming home.”

The guide says the underaged youth could get a “couch/place to sleep in for the night” with a college student at local George Mason University, James Madison University or other area schools. 

The resource guide from the group notes: “For the same night, we may be able to find a student in the PLP who can take vou in. This shouldn’t be counted on, but we’ve been able to extend offers of help in the past. We may also be able to find a college student at GMU, JMU, or DC schools who can give you a couch/place to sleep in for the night. This isn’t ideal at all or reliable, but it’s a possibility if something happens.”

The organization solicits donations for the effort with a link to ActBlue, a fundraising platform affiliated with Democratic Party causes and politicians.

Under “Transportation,” the guide says the organization can’t pay for “long term transportation,” but “we can pay for Ubers, Lyfts and other passes if you need to leave immediately.” What’s more, it says, “Some students or adults may also be able to come get you individually, if all else fails.” 

In response to a query from local group Do Better FCPS, Uber said that they do not allow minors to use their ride service unless accompanied by an adult. “Account holders who repeatedly allow unaccompanied minors to use their account to ride may also lose access to Uber.” Lyft did not respond to questions.

To avoid child sexual exploitation, youth organizations have increasingly recognized that underaged minors cannot be in the company of adults to whom they are not related without serious safety precautions in place, including not allowing adults to drive, sleep overnight or even speak in the same room alone with minor children to whom they are not related. 

They certainly ban adults from giving cash to minor children, but in the resource guide, under “Money,” the organization writes: “In the short term, we can provide a couple of hundred dollars immediately.” It says: “We can send this to you through Venmo or Zelle.”

It even offers a way to disguise the source of the funds, writing, “Please note that it’ll say the money comes from the PLP account, but we may be able to change the name if needed.”

Offering students an opportunity to get cash, Pride Liberation Project offers an alternative through the Democratic Party fundraising platform. “We can also set up a dedicated ActBlue fundraising page for you and get allies to donate,” the guide recommends, noting: “In the past, this has led to thousands of dollars in donations.”

In music to the ears of most any youth, the resource guide notes: “All of this money is yours.”

Finally, in a section titled “Covers/Alibi,” the Pride Liberation Project tells minor students who attend protests that “we can work with you to craft a valid, non-Queer reason for you to have been there.” It cautions: “Sometimes this may be a bit challenging, but we can use official sounding non-Queer related email address, email addresses from prestigious universities, and other resources.”

In the post-protest debrief, when one student asked if he could continue working with the youth after graduating and, presumably becoming an adult, Rawal responded: “I graduated, and I’m helping organize this s**t.”

For more information, please click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhwzV7oajVc&t=70s

Asra Q. Nomani is a former Wall Street Journal reporter living in Fairfax County, Va. Email her tips at asra@asranomani.com or message her at @AsraNomani on Twitter.

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