An 11-year-old girl who was on a school field trip from Colorado to Washington, D.C. was assigned to bunk with a transgender male student last summer.
On Monday, the fifth-grade girl’s parents sent a letter to Jefferson County Public Schools demanding action on what they see as a break of their promise to keep boys and girls separate in sleeping quarters on field trips. Serena Wailes said her daughter was assigned a hotel room with three other girls, with two assigned to each bed.
“Her bedmate informed her that he was a boy who identifies as transgender,” Wailes said. Her daughter called her from the bathroom, and she was able to take action because she was along on the trip. After mom Serena spoke at length with the chaperone, the transgender student was moved to another room.
“And even then, chaperones told the girl to lie about the reason for her move because of the district’s overnight rooming policy—a policy that violates parental rights and student privacy by rooming students based on gender identity while hiding that information from other parents and students,” writes Alliance Defending Freedom, which has taken up the cause on behalf of the girls of Jefferson County, Colorado.
“The Wailes family was told at multiple parent meetings prior to the trip that female and male students would be roomed on different hotel floors, and on the trip the students were told by JCPS chaperones that boys were not even allowed to visit the girls’ floor and vice versa without permission. D.W. was assigned to a room with three other students, two from her school and one from a different school, K.E.M., whom D.W. did not know prior to the trip. D.W. and K.E.M. were supposed to share a bed. Because she did not want K.E.M. to feel left out, D.W. made a point to be friendly throughout the first day of the trip,” Alliance for Defending Freedom writes.
“The first evening, after the four students were in their room, K.E.M. revealed that K.E.M. was a male with a transgender gender identity. D.W. was immediately uncomfortable with the prospect of sharing a room and a bed with a male, regardless of the student’s gender identity. D.W. snuck into the bathroom, which did not lock, and quietly called her mother, Serena. D.W. then met her mother in the lobby to share her concerns. Prior to the trip, no one at JCPS informed the Waileses or D.W. that her room would include a male who identified as transgender. In fact, JCPS told them just the opposite: that male and female students would stay on separate floors,” the group explains in its letter.
Rep. Mary Peltola was the featured guest at the Jefferson County Democratic Party’s summer fundraiser during the summer just a eight weeks after the school field trip in which the boy was paired with a girl in a hotel bed.
It’s the kind of thing that is not specifically addressed in Anchorage, and thus could happen to any Anchorage student on an overnight field trip, because Anchorage School District has a written policy that only protects the privacy of students who believe themselves to be transgender, and even has explicit instructions to teachers and administrators to keep that information secret from the transgender-identifying student’s parents.
“The principal or administrator will schedule a meeting to discuss the student’s/employee’s needs and to develop a plan to address these needs. The plan should address, as appropriate, the name and pronoun desired by the student/employee, restroom and locker room use, participation in athletics, dress code, student/employee transition plans, if any, and other needs or requests of the student/employee. Parents and others (counselor, nurse, teachers who have a need to know) may be included in this meeting depending on what is needed to develop a plan for the individual. ‘Need to know’ staff includes those individuals who provide a direct service, activity or program to the transgender individual,” the Anchorage School District policy states.
Parents “may be included,” in this transgender policy, and “need to know” does not necessarily apply to parents, guardians, chaperones, or even other children who may be asked to sleep in the same bed as a person of the opposite sex, or who are encouraged by schools to “not tell” about what happened on a field trip.
Alliance Defending Freedom says in its letter to the superintendent of the Jefferson County School District that parents are not being given the information they need to be able to make informed decisions about whether to permit their children to go on field trips.
The Alliance Defending Freedom letter can be found at this link.