Westview High teens discuss app with President

Posted at 7:36 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-28 12:26:45-04

It's not often high school students get to create an app.  And, it’s even more rare to be able to talk to the President of the United States about it.

"He seemed to be genuinely interested in our app,” said senior Bansi Parekh.

"When he came in and started interviewing us, he just felt so friendly and approachable,” said senior Lauren Mori.   

Mori, Parekh and three other students from Westview High School in Torrey Highlands created Spectrum, a social-media app geared towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth looking for a safe support system.

"Most apps targeted towards queer people are for lesbian and gay people.  And they're for dating.  But, We wanted to incorporate an education aspect,” said senior Siobhan Garry.

The "Awareness" page is where people can go to learn about different queer identities.   The app would connect queer youth with supportive events and resources. 

"You can find other people in your neighborhood based on location settings.  And this is really important because it shows there are other people in your community just like you,” said senior Mona Fariborzi.  

The national magazine, Advocate, reported that last year was deadly for trans youth in San Diego.  These teens created Spectrum to create a more positive and welcoming environment for young people, some of whom have been rejected by their families and society and end up on the streets.

"Forty-percent of homeless youth are queer.  They still might have a phone,” said Garry.

“We knew we were making something that meant a lot to us and our community,” said Parekh. 

Spectrum began as a project for a technology challenge at school.  Then, Google recognized the teens in its campaign to inspire girls to learn how to code to create things.   That led to their trip to the White House Science Fair.

"It was just really wonderful experience to talk to the president about our futures,” said Garry.

"It was really comforting to know that he's taking these issues seriously like we are,” said senior McKenna Stamp.

The teens say spectrum is still in development.   They hope to find the right people to help take their app to market soon.