A suburban Denver school district is under legal scrutiny after being accused of assigning an 11-year-old girl to share a bed with a biological boy who identifies as female on a field trip without telling her parents — and then asking the girl to lie about the arrangement.
The Alliance Defending Freedom fired off a letter to the Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado on behalf of Joe and Serena Wailes, saying that their fifth-grade daughter balked over bunking with another student who “was a male with a transgender gender identity” during a June school trip to the East Coast.
Kate Anderson, ADF senior counsel and director of the alliance’s Center for Parental Rights, said the issue is particularly relevant because the parents have two other children in district schools scheduled to participate next year in the same Philadelphia-Washington, D.C., tour.
“The Waileses ask that you immediately clarify JCPS policy; specifically, whether JCPS will continue this practice of intentionally withholding information about rooming accommodations from parents like the Waileses, who object to their children rooming with a student of the opposite sex, regardless of the other student’s gender identity,” said Ms. Anderson in the letter dated Monday.
Their daughter, identified in the letter as D.W., was assigned to a room with three other students, including one identified as K.E.M. who attended a different school. D.W. did not know K.E.M. before the start of the trip.
“The Waileses’ daughter only found out [about the transgender identity] because the male student told her on the first night of the trip,” said the alliance. “She was uncomfortable about the prospect of sharing a bed with a male student. The girl shared her concerns with her mother, who accompanied her on the trip, and together, they met with a teacher who was acting as a chaperone.”
The teacher met with Mrs. Wailes and her daughter in the hotel lobby, then contacted Principal Ryan Lucas, who called K.E.M.’s parents.
“K.E.M.’s parents confirmed their child’s transgender gender identity and that K.E.M. was to be in ‘stealth mode,’ meaning students on the trip would not know about their child’s transgender status,” said the letter to JeffCo Superintendent Tracy Dorland.
The chaperones asked D.W. if she would be willing to stay in the same room but switch beds. The girl was still uncomfortable with the arrangement but agreed because she was “tired after a long travel day,” the letter said.
The school officials then instructed her to lie to the other girls by saying she needed to change beds to be near the air conditioner. One of the girls asked D.W. if she still wanted to share a bed with K.E.M., which prompted D.W. to call her mother again.
“Serena and D.W. returned to the school chaperone and again asked for D.W. to be moved to a different room,” said the letter. “This time, the chaperones agreed to move K.E.M. and one other girl to a different room but again lied about why, saying D.W.’s sick roommate needed more space.”
The alliance said that the district’s policy of “hiding information from parents and lying to students is unconstitutional.”
The Washington Times has reached out for comment to JeffCo Schools, the second-largest district in the state after Denver Public Schools with 85,000 students. The district is headquartered in Golden.
The chaperones were following JeffCo’s transgender policy, which states that “Under no circumstance shall a student who is transgender be required to share a room with students whose gender identity conflicts with their own.”
The policy also forbids school staff from disclosing a student’s transgender identity to anyone, including parents, “unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure.”
The letter said that throughout the evening, “K.E.M.’s privacy and feelings were always the primary concern of JCPS employees,” while the privacy and feelings of the three girls were secondary.
“After JCPS disregarded D.W.’s privacy and the Waileses’ parental rights, JCPS then silenced D.W., thus infringing on her freedom of speech, when a JCPS teacher told the three girls that they were not allowed to tell anyone that K.E.M. was transgender, even though K.E.M. voluntarily chose to share this information,” Ms. Anderson said in the letter.
The alliance asked the district to clarify by Dec. 18 its policy on field-trip room assignments and “whether parents can opt their children out of any policy that rooms children by gender identity rather than sex.”