An 11-year-old girl was told by her school to share a bed with a transgender child during an overnight school trip. The girl was so terrified she hid in a closet and called her parents for help.
Joe and Serena Wailes say at no time did Jefferson County Public Schools alert them that their fifth grade daughter would be sleeping in the same bed with a boy.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the family and they sent a letter to the district warning that its policy of hiding information from parents and lying to students is unconstitutional.
As ADF attorneys explain in their letter, throughout the evening, the male student’s privacy and feelings were the only concern of JCPS employees. The Waileses want to ensure that all students’ privacy and feelings are considered, and notifying parents of the JCPS overnight policy would accomplish that. Instead, JCPS hides the information from parents disregarding student privacy and parental rights.
School policy states that students who identify as the opposite sex should be “assigned to share overnight accommodations with other students that share the student’s gender identity consistently asserted at school.” The policy also demands that “under no circumstance” should a student who identifies as the opposite sex be required to share a room with students of the same sex.
But as ADF attorneys explain in the letter, that provision is not equally extended to other students like the Waileses’ daughter who does not want to share a room with a student of the opposite sex. ADF attorneys note how this policy violates the Waileses’ religious beliefs, the parental rights of all parents in the district, and the privacy rights of all students.
“Parents, not the government, have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, and that includes making informed decisions to protect their child’s privacy,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, director of the ADF Center for Parental Rights.
“Schools should never hide information from parents, yet that’s exactly what JCPS officials did here. And that put the Waileses’ 11-year-old daughter in a very challenging situation where she had to choose between sleeping in the same bed with a biological boy and advocating for her privacy in front of her teachers and peers,” she added. “Understandably, the Wailes family is asking JCPS to cease its practice of intentionally withholding information about rooming accommodations from parents. Every parent should have the information needed to make the best decision for their children.”
Watch Todd’s interview with Kate below and click here to get Todd’s exclusive newsletter filled with conservative news and commentary.
TODD: [00:00:00] I want to bring in a good friend of this program. Her name is Kate Anderson. She is with Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the nation’s top religious liberty law firms in the country. Kate, welcome to the show. Tell us what’s happening there in Jefferson County, Colorado.
KATE: [00:00:17] Thank you for having me on the show. Well, ATF sent a letter today to Jefferson County school districts on behalf of our clients, Joe and Serena Wailes, parents in Jefferson County, who their daughter, 11 years old, just graduated from fifth grade, was on an overnight trip to Philadelphia and D.C. and found out the first evening that she was set to share a bed with a boy student who identifies as transgender. She had not been told ahead of time. Her parents had not been told ahead of time. And so she ended up calling her parents while hiding in the bathroom in the hotel room to try to figure out what to do with this situation, a situation that was entirely avoidable if Jefferson County had just let parents know about their policy ahead of time.
TODD: [00:01:02] This is shocking on a number of levels. Let’s unpack this. First of all, you’re saying literally sharing a bed that had have been terrifying for that little girl.
KATE: [00:01:12] Yes. And she got along with the student very well. They had spent a lot of time together that day. They did for the rest of the trip. But she was uncomfortable, as one would imagine, with the idea of spending the night in the same bed as a biological boy. And it was the student who told her that he identified as transgender and was biologically male. The school district, after several different requests to her chaperons that night, did end up moving the student and another girl to another room so that she was in a room with just another girl, but had to navigate that largely on her own, a long way away from her dad. Her mom was on the trip with her.
TODD: [00:01:53] I have to imagine the parents must have been horrified to get that call from their daughter in a bathroom.
KATE: [00:02:00] Yeah, she was hiding in the hotel bathroom, which she told me did not lock. And she wanted to try to figure out what to do. She didn’t want to make waves, but she was worried about her own privacy. Obviously very uncomfortable and distressed with the idea of spending the night with a biological boy in the same bed. And when the whales got home, they found out this was actually district policy to room students on overnight trips, all overnight trips based on their gender identity and not to tell all parents about this. So that’s why we sent this demand letter. We want to ensure transparency over that policy and that the school district lets parents know so that they can make the best decision for their kids so that no other little girls end up in this situation.
TODD: [00:02:42] So let’s talk about what the law says here. And ADF, you guys have been very successful winning cases at the Supreme Court. What does the law say? What rights do parents have when it comes to these overnight trips?
KATE: [00:02:55] Well, parents absolutely have the constitutional right to direct the upbringing and education of their kids, and that includes getting basic information from their schools. Every parent should be concerned when a school district hides information. And parents need to be able to protect their kids privacy, to be able to help work with their kids and their school to make the best decision for their individual child. When a child’s going on an overnight trip.
TODD: [00:03:20] And I have to imagine this look, and again, this is not about the transgender child here. This is about parents having the right to know and being being able to make those decisions and not the school district.
KATE: [00:03:32] It’s about every child’s privacy and every parent’s ability to get the information and make the best decision for their child, no matter how that child identifies. And the parents sign tons of paperwork any time their kid goes on an overnight trip. So somewhere in that paperwork, it would be very easy for Jefferson County to provide this information to parents and let them know so they can make the best decision and opt out of a policy like this if they need to.
TODD: [00:03:56] Well, good for you guys here. I know you’ve sent the letter. So if they do not respond or if they say, hey, look, this is our school policy, nothing you can do about it, what’s the next step for ADF?
KATE: [00:04:09] Well, we would certainly contemplate litigation if we need to, but we’re very hopeful that we can work through this with Jefferson County. It’s an easy fix to make sure that all parents have the information and can make the best decisions for their kids, and it’s best for all students. So we’re hopeful that they will agree and clarify their policy right away.
TODD: [00:04:25] Wow. And the little girl involved here, that has to be a traumatic thing anyway, even though nothing happened in the in that room still, you know, the classmate yelled, you know how kids are at that age.
KATE: [00:04:38] Yeah. Very difficult for her to have to advocate for herself. And she actually had to ask a couple of times because the first suggested solution was just to move her to the other bed in the room and she had to continue to advocate for herself. She has two younger siblings that are set to go on this same trip. So there’s urgency for the whales to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen to their two younger children.
TODD: [00:05:00] All right. Well, good stuff. Okay. We’re glad you guys are on the case. Keep us updated here. And this is something I think every parent in America is going to be paying very close attention to.
KATE: [00:05:12] I hope so. Thank you so much.
TODD: [00:05:14] All right. There you go, folks. Kate Andersen from Alliance Defending Freedom.