Report by Paula Antolini, August 1, 2020, 12:00PM EDT
This article is not about gay rights, but community, state and national statutes and school rules and regulations regarding the safety of young people and the information to which they have access.
Do You Know What Your 13+ Year-Old Children Are Doing? Who is “Bethel CT Pride”? What organizations or websites are they connected to, or supporting? What is “Discord”? What is “VPN”? What is “Pink News”? Do you know that they can bypass website blocks the public schools have installed?
Who is this private group called “Bethel CT Pride”?
Neither the Bethel CT Pride Facebook page or the Bethel CT Pride website page list any names of individuals operating the organization or online pages. It just offers an email address of email@example.com.
They mention that: “The annual Bethel CT Pride Parade & Celebration provides a safe space for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, genderqueer, non-binary, ace, intersex, allies, and questioning individuals to celebrate their authentic selves,” and “The event features music, entertainment, art, food, and vendors from members of the LGBTQ+ community. And the support of local businesses and community groups continues to grow. In 2018, Triangle Community Center became Bethel CT Pride’s fiscal sponsor. And in 2019, Bethel CT Pride became a member of the CTGLC.” They also say that they host, “Families with Pride, Board Game Meetup, and LGBTQ+ Book Club with separate meetups for fiction and non-fiction.”
What they fail to mention is all the ways they promote links on their sites to show young people age 13+ to hide what they are doing online, interact with anonymous strangers in online chat group, and even advice on how to do sexting, among many more pieces of advice,giving access to chat rooms with people “age 13 to 113.”
A glimpse at a few names that signed a letter addressed to all three members of the Board of Selectmen (BOS), dated June 7, 2020, is only a hint of who is involved in this group, but not who runs it. The letter asked to fly the gay pride flag on the flagpole in front of the CJH Municipal Center today, August 1st, 2020, at noon.
The June 7, 2020 letter was presented by First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker at a June 21, 2020 BOS meeting, in the last two minutes of the meeting, NOT following Robert’s Rules of Order protocol, but has only a hint of supporter names. However, we still do not know who is running the organization, apparently started by a 12-year-old student’s school assignment. Citizens of Bethel had no opportunity to comment upon this topic, were giving no advance info., it was not on the agenda, and the letter is not mentioned in the meeting minutes, nor a copy attached. Read more here.
Why is the Board of Selectmen hiding this letter?
The flag that will fly today at noon was unanimously approved by the Board of Selectmen without much discussion, and no public comment was possible.
Why was the Bethel Board of Selectmen so secretive with a letter received on June 7th, and questionably shown at the last two minutes of a meeting, not allowing pubic input? Ask yourself why, then ask the selectmen.
The group called Bethel Ct Pride has a Facebook page listing themselves as a “Community Group” described as, “Bethel CT Pride is the organizing group for the Bethel LGBTQ+ Pride Parade and Celebration in Bethel, CT,” was founded in 2017 after “Alexis Main’s 12 year-old-daughter Hailey,” also a Bethel student, chose to write about an LGBTQ+ topic for a school project, and she wanted a parade, according to their post.
Bethel CT Pride also has a website, but their only claim is being “sponsored by” the Triangle Community Center. “Bethel CT Pride is fiscally sponsored by Triangle Community Center (TCC), a 501c3 organization based in Norwalk, CT. TCC provides financial management and administrative support for all contributions to Bethel CT Pride. Visit ctpridecenter.org to learn more about TCC.” They also list themselves as members of “The Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Center.”
It was recently discovered that this Bethel group, “Bethel CT Pride,” is operating a chat forum under “Discord,” where children as young as 13+ can register, and members can register anonymously, and the “*VPN” (virtual private network) suggested, on their “help page.” can “mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your or other members’ online actions are virtually untraceable.” Please read this entire article to the end for details.
*A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.
Here are the top five things a VPN hides:
1. Your browsing history
2. Your IP address and location
3. Your location for streaming
4. Your devices (“including desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smart phone from prying eyes”).
5. Your web activity — “to maintain internet freedom.”
Read more HERE.
HOW THE BETHEL CT PRIDE CHAT SITE IS FOUND:
You can find their exact “DISCORD” site HERE.
Or reach DISCORD in many other ways, such as via their Bethel CT Pride Instagram page which has link selling t-shirts and other merchandise, but leads to this page HERE with many more links, that then includes a link for their “Discord” chat group. The Bethel CT Pride group also has a Twitter page that has further information on their agenda, and also a Snapchat site and a Facebook page and a Youtube channel. Many links lead to numerous other pages they are promoting.
On DISCORD, members can register anonymously with any name, and under “Username”: it asks, “What should everyone call you?”
The member is also asked to “verify their account” with a phone number. So anyone age 13+ (or faking age 13) with a phone can register.
Once on the Bethel CT Pride DISCORD page you can join, and members can also click on a two “help” links as follows: General web safety tips and How to safely meet a date (or anyone, really) from the internet.
The first link leads to a “VPN mentor guide to safety” page (as we mentioned earlier, where it can “mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable“).
The page is by Sarah Turner, a “Cyber Safety Blogger” who is described as, “an experienced cybersecurity blogger, tech expert, and social activist. She’s making the internet a safer and more inclusive place for everyone, and works tirelessly to share her knowledge. Plus, she has an undying love for herbal tea!“
The page shows “How to Block People on Social Media” (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube) and “How to Use Privacy Features on Social Media” (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube), “How to Reinvent Your Online Identity,” and “Dating While Queer,” and “How to Hide Your Stories on Instagram,” among many other suggestions.
The link also has guidance on “Safe Sexting” with things such as:
“With the rise of dating apps, sexting has become a common phenomenon. As a result, many have nude pictures stored on their phones.
“Whether you take these pictures for yourself or for others, you can’t ignore the possibility that if they fall into the wrong hands, the result could be embarrassing – or in some cases – have devastating effects on your personal or professional life.
“But swapping cheeky photos can be a fun and fulfilling part of your romantic life, and we want you to have fun. Just make sure you take precautions.
“There are certain apps that you can use to increase security and store your intimate photos in a locked part of your phone. The following all provide this feature:
—KeepSafe: KeepSafe provides an easy way to protect your pictures. Just transfer your intimate photos into the app, and it will lock them with a password.
—Gallery Lock Lite: This app is a locked photo vault. It also features a stealth mode, which hides the app icon altogether – you can then only access it through a specific sequence of key commands.
—Best Secret Folder: This privacy app allows you to hide the app (and your photos) entirely, as it appears on your phone as a ‘Utilities Folder,’ which diverts any suspicion as to what it contains.
—KYMS: KYMS provides the standard locked album features but takes it a step further by appearing as a calculator on your phone’s menu. As long as no one grabs your phone to do some math, your secret photos will remain hidden.
—Vaulty: As well as providing your photos protection, Vaulty also comes with a plethora of editing features. Plus, if you lose your phone, you can restore your pictures from another device.
Have Your Photos Self-Destruct
“Often no real need exists to store your nude photos on your phone at all. Once you’ve sent them to the desired recipient, you may not have a use for them. Many apps exist that allow you to take and send pictures, but will automatically delete them from both phones after a certain amount of time. These platforms allow genuinely stealthy sexting:
Oddly enough it has, “Tips for Parents of LGBTQ+ Youth” that says, “it’s essential to verse yourself in online safety” and “by maintaining an open dialogue and monitoring their online activity, you can help keep them safe.” Well how are parents supposed to do that if they are teaching young people how to hide everything from view?
However, it does give names of groups (to parents supposedly!) that are all 18+ apps that those who are underage shouldn’t be on: Tindr, Grindr, Zoosk, HER, Hotornot, Badoo, Skout.
There are also “freer” versions of VPN listed:
- Norton Secure VPN – 7 day free trial for mobile devices only and a 60-day money back guarantee is offered
- PureVPN – no trial or free version available but a 31-day money back guarantee is offered
- IPVanish – no trial or free version available but a 7-day money back guarantee is offered
- CyberGhost – 1 day free trial and 14-day money back guarantee
- Hotspot Shield – a free version is available with 500 MB/day data limit
- VyprVPN – no trial or free version available but a 30-day money back guarantee is offered
- Private Internet Access – no trial or free version available but a 7-day money back guarantee is offered
- StrongVPN – no trial or free version available but a 30-day money back guarantee is offered
- Surfshark – 7 day free trial on Google Play and Apple App Store
- NordVPN – no trial or free version available but a 30-day money back guarantee is offered
- ExpressVPN – no trial or free version available but a 30-day money back guarantee is offered
- TorGuard – 7 day free trial
- Buffered VPN – no trial or free version available but a 30-day money back guarantee is offered
- Safer VPN – 1 day free trial and 30-day money back guarantee
- HMA – no trial or free version available but 30-day money back guarantee is offered
- Tunnel Bear – free version with up to 500MB of secure browsing
VPN suggests using servers in other countries:
“Paid VPN providers will offer servers in several different countries. As an example, Norton Secure VPN has servers in 29 different countries and 73 locations.” … “There might be times when you want to connect to a server outside of your country. Maybe you live in a part of the world where the government censors the internet. By connecting to a VPN based in a country without this censorship, you can browse the web more freely. “
The second link sends you to “PINK NEWS.”
According to Conservapedia, “Pink News is an online magazine written by and for homosexuals that advocates the homosexual agenda. It is not noted for factual reliability or objective balance in its reporting. It has frequently engaged in libelous attacks against those who oppose the homosexual agenda, inciting bigotry and hostile and criminal behavior (including death threats) by its readers against the targets of the magazine’s attacks (all noted below). Pink News is not affiliated to the UK Press Standards Organisation and has never signed up to the Editor’s Code of Practice, which requires editors to take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of what they print, and withdraw false or grossly offensive content. While Pink News claims to represent all homosexuals, it is disliked by many of them, particularly lesbians, who publicly attack it and call it an anti-feminist, male-centered concern. It is widely known by the satirical name “P***k News” and a parody account has recently been set up on Twitter with this name.”
The link includes, “15 ways you can stay safe on Grindr and other dating apps” … ironically one of the Apps it indicated to parents that young people are supposed to stay away from!
Here’s where it gets interesting. Buried into the Bethel CT Pride’s “DISCORD” page (which claims it is “like a school“ and you can communicate “anonymously” and provides a link HERE where you can join at age 13) it reads, “The server has rooms for participants of all ages, from 13 to 113” with rooms for specific ages, and parental guidance is suggested for some, but how do parent monitor this if people are anonymous? It also reads, “We suggest that users that may not be able to form good judgement and advocate for themselves participate under the supervision of a parent or guardian.” Do they enforce this? And if so, how? How would parents know about this?
The DISCORD page reads as follows:
“Discord is a digital communication tool that gained popularity in the gaming community but is now used by non-profits, businesses, hobby groups and more! The platform allows the Bethel CT Pride community a place to communicate with like-minded individuals.
“Think of Bethel CT Pride “server” like a school. It is the overall destination where you go to connect with folx [an umbrella term for people with a non-normative sexual orientation or identity] to discuss different topics as you would in different classrooms. In the Discord world, these classrooms are referred to as “channels.”
“There are three ways to communicate on Discord: text chat, which is open at all times; voice chat, which is open for certain topics; and video chat, which is only open on special occasions such as online events.
“We selected Discord as our online community meeting place for its:
- Ability to participate anonymously
- Ability to monitor participation / limit abusive content
- Ability for users to look back at conversations and find resources, as needed
- Easy-to-use interface, ability to use on desktop or mobile device, good up-time (nerdy technical wins!)
“Discord DOES allow users to privately message each other. This can be very awesome when making new friends!
“If you form a connection, be it friendly or romantic, and wish to meet, read these tips on how to proceed safely:
“Have questions? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org“
So we have people as young as age 13 interacting with anonymous individuals, and in a secret network that cannot be traced. The links are teaching them methods to hide information, and students are learning how to override school website blocks.
Is THIS what the Bethel CT Pride group represents? Do parents or the school officials know about these links with untraceable IPs?
Who is operating this network in Bethel? Are the school or town government officials allowing this? Are the police aware this? Who is on watch? Is anything being done to alert parents or the public?
In this country people are allowed to voice their opinions about any subject matter, including gay rights, but should that allow them to lead 13-year-olds+ into chat sites to interact with strangers, where you can be anonymous, IPs are not traceable, and teaches them how to hide info.?
Once again, this article is not about gay rights, but it is about community, state, national statutes and school rules and regulations regarding the safety of young people and the information to which they have access.
To ask questions, or have your letter included in the next Board of Selectman (BOS) meeting record (ask to do so) on Aug. 4th, email the First Selectman Mathew Knickerbocker‘s office here: EMAIL: email@example.com or email the Bethel Board of Education firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools email@example.com. Also contact state legislators, other school and town officials and the Bethel Police Department, with your concerns.