Parents and politicians in southern California have condemned sexually explicit gay websites which feature photos of teenage boys playing water polo.

An investigation by the Orange County Register discovered photographs of players from eleven high schools in the area, some as young as 14, posted next to naked images of young men on a website registered in London.

Players from other California high schools were also found.

The paper reports that some of the boys are so traumatised by the discovery that they have needed counselling.

“These kids don’t look at what they do as shameful,” said Joan Gould, a spokeswoman for a group of Orange County water polo parents told the Register.

“For someone to come in and take what these kids are doing and take it out of context and exploit these images, these kids and their schools, because you can see the school name on the caps, is just horrible.”

State Assembly member Jose Solorio promised an investigation but said it was unclear whether re-posting the pictures, taken from school and other websites, is illegal.

AP reports that a campus police support worker at the University of California, Irvine, is being investigated after allegations he had photographed high school-aged athletes for a gay site.

The man remains on duty and has not been arrested.