One of the largest mental health organizations serving LGBTQ+ youth is leaving X, the social media service formerly known as Twitter.
The Trevor Project announced Thursday that the nonprofit is closing its account on X, citing “increasing hate and vitriol... targeting the LGBTQ community.”
“LGBTQ young people are regularly victimized at the expense of their mental health, and X’s removal of certain moderation functions makes it more difficult for us to create a welcoming space for them on this platform,” the nonprofit said in a statement on the platform.
The Trevor Project noted that it will maintain a presence on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Over the past two decades, the Trevor Project has provided a 24-hour crisis line and a social network for LGBTQ+ people between the ages of 13 and 24.
Stakes are “just too high” for the group to continue its relationship with X, a spokesperson for the organization told HuffPost. The spokesperson noted that 41% of LGBTQ+ young people have seriously considered suicide, and that the figures are even higher for trans and nonbinary youth, as well as youth of color.
“The content we share on social media is intended to uplift and affirm LGBTQ young people, shedding light on stories to deepen public understanding of their experiences,” the spokesperson wrote. “In response to mental health resources and messages of hope and support, we’ve seen anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and commentary on our posts that can negatively impact LGBTQ young people.”
Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought the social media company, at the time known as Twitter, and claimed the platform would prioritize “free speech.” He has since received heavy criticism from watchdog groups for failing to moderate hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community, as well as racist, antisemitic and other “extreme hate speech,” according to a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
The platform has become a haven for accounts promoting hateful content and false information about queer and trans communities. In April, Musk quietly removed parts of X’s hateful conduct policy that protected users against misgendering or deadnaming. The billionaire has also promoted “What is a Woman?” ― a documentary by Daily Wire contributor Matt Walsh that attempts to cast doubt on the existence of trans people.
More recently, the conservative advocacy group Prager University Foundation spent $1 million on a day-long takeover of X to promote its film “Detrans: The Dangers of Gender Affirming Care,” which has been criticized as a misleading treatment of the subject (and which Ian Kumamoto, writing for HuffPost’s opinion section, called “pure anti-trans propaganda”).
The Trevor Project said that the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ+ content on X, as well as the rise of legislation targeting queer and trans youths’ access to gender-affirming health care and participation in school activities, has made the platform an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ+ young people. Statehouses across the country have introduced a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year, prompting the Human Right Campaign to declare a “state of emergency” for the LGBTQ+ community this summer.
The Trevor Project is one of dozens of organizations, including multiple groups focused on the LGBTQ+ community, that have left the platform under Musk’s leadership.
This past spring, 29 LGBTQ+ community centers across the country deactivated their X accounts, calling on the social media network to do more to protect its users from hate speech.
“Twitter has become increasingly unsafe in recent months for LGBTQ and BIPOC people with anti-LGBTQ, anti-trans, anti-Black and anti-semitic tweets on the rise,” Denise Spivak, the CEO of CenterLink, an international nonprofit network of hundreds of LGBTQ+ organizations, told Mashable at the time.
If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for mental health support. Additionally, you can find local mental health and crisis resources at dontcallthepolice.com. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.