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New charge: CO school district forced children to share cabins/shower with students of opposite sex at outdoor camp


UPDATE: After a Colorado school district was called out for secretly assigning a biological boy identifying as a girl to share a bed with a fifth grade girl on an overnight trip, other parents have come forward to complain about even more concerning incidents regarding their children at a school-mandated outdoor residential camp.

The new complaints show that the original situation was not isolated, a misunderstanding, or a mix up.

Last month, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) explaining that Joe and Serena Wailes’s daughter was placed, without her knowledge, in a room with a male on a school trip to Washington, D.C. The boy identifies as female and JCPS policy demands that students be placed in lodging based on the child’s gender identity without notifying anyone.

The Wailes’s daughter didn’t know that the student assigned to share a bed with was a male until he told her, causing her severe distress. She locked herself in the bathroom and called her parents. After school staff tried to get her to stay in the room but change beds, she was eventually moved to another room. Staff did not inform any of the other girls that the student rooming with them was a male.

ADF wrote to JCPS about the incident and the district’s policy, asking for more information and demanding that parents be given the choice to opt their child out of rooming with children of the opposite sex. Evidently JCPS’s reply was unsatisfactory because last week ADF responded with another letter.

JCPS apparently failed to address whether parents could opt their child out of staying with a child of the opposite sex and instead discussed their concerns about disclosing the medical information of transgender students. ADF said in its letter that it never asked for any identifying or medical information about any individual student.

Some parents have since approached the legal group to tell them that their children were forced to share a cabin with students of the opposite sex at Outdoor Lab. According to its webpage, Outdoor Lab is “one of the longest continually running outdoor education programs in the western United States. Students are immersed in an outdoor academic setting where they spend their time learning about themselves and how they fit into the world around them.”

The program is a week-long, residential, and required part of the sixth grade curricula at JCPS.

ADF notes that not only were students required to share a cabin with students of the opposite sex but a sixth grader was forced to share a room with an 18-year-old high schooler of the opposite sex who served as a counselor. The high school counselors were also responsible for supervising showers to ensure students didn’t take too long.

ADF explained that the school’s policy put children in a precarious and untenable situation, writing:

“Considering that students at Outdoor Lab cannot contact their parents during the trip, it would be up to an eleven-year-old to face this invasion of privacy alone. Here, the child did not feel comfortable speaking up during the trip, and the parents did not discover this invasion of their child’s privacy until the trip ended. This cannot be the ‘individualized arrangement’ your policy envisions.”

ADF explained that it is “seeking a policy change that allows parents to opt their children in or out (depending on how it is worded) of any policy that rooms children by gender identity rather than sex.”

JCPS has until January 25 to respond.

 Original Story

{Published December 11, 2023} Three 5th-grade girls from a Colorado elementary school were forced to share a room with a boy on a trip to Washington D.C., even being required to share a bed, without the girls’ or their parents’ knowledge or consent.

That’s what a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) claims. ADF explained that Joe and Serena Wailes’s daughter, referred to as D.W. in the letter, went on a school trip over the summer. The 5th graders were traveling from Colorado to visit Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. When the parents agreed to send their daughter across the country and room with other children it was with the explicit and repeated instruction from the district that boys and girls would stay on separate floors.

D.W. had been assigned a room with two girls from her school and another student, referred to as K.E.M., introduced to them as a “girl” from a different school, who D.W. was to share a bed with. D.W. had intentionally been kind to K.E.M. so the student wouldn’t feel left out. On the first night of the trip, K.E.M. told D.W. that he was actually a biological boy who identified as a girl. D.W. was upset and snuck away to the bathroom to call her mom, who was also on the trip. After meeting her mom in the lobby, the two talked to a school chaperone, who called the principal. When the principal called K.E.M.’s parents, they said K.E.M. was to be in “stealth mode” and no students were to know that he was a boy.

The district officials asked if D.W. could move to another bed rather than move to another room, which she agreed to try for one night. However, they told D.W. to lie to the other girls about why she was moving and not tell the other girl that she would be sleeping in the bed with a boy. They told the girls that D.W. needed to be closer to the air conditioner. One girl asked K.E.M., “Do you still want to sleep in the bed with D.W.?” D.W. was scared to say why she didn’t want to sleep with K.E.M., so she again found her mom, who asked for her daughter to be moved to another room. The school chaperones moved K.E.M. and another girl but lied about why, not telling any of the girls why K.E.M. was being moved. A district employee told the girls they could not tell anyone that K.E.M. was a boy.

The reasoning for the continued deception goes back to JCPS’s school policies on transgender students which, at every point, prioritize the transgender student, “minimizing stigmatization.” School staff are required to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns and chosen name, allow them to use the bathroom or locker room of their choice, allow them to play on the sports team of their gender identity, and sleep in overnight accommodations according to their gender identity. The policy also requires staff to hide a student’s gender transition from their parents unless the student gives permission.

The policy on overnight trips states, “In the planning of sleeping arrangements during overnight activity and athletic trips, the needs of students who are transgender shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis with the goals of maximizing the student’s social integration, providing equal opportunity to participate in overnight activity and athletic trips, ensuring the student’s safety and comfort, and minimizing stigmatization of the student.  In most cases, students who are transgender should be assigned to share overnight accommodations with other students that share the student’s gender identity consistently asserted at school.”

It continues, “Any alternative arrangement should be provided in a way that allows the student’s transgender status to be kept confidential.  Under no circumstance shall a student who is transgender be required to share a room with students whose gender identity conflicts with their own.”

ADF wrote,

“We are concerned with the unequal application of these policies in practice. The policy is supposed to ‘maintain[] the privacy of all students,’ and allow for ‘[a]ny student who is transgender or not’ to be ‘provided with a reasonable accommodation,’ including a ‘private room.’ But in practice, JCPS does not provide this same opportunity to students like D.W., who do not wish to room with a student of the opposite sex, nor to parents like the Waileses, who would like to know whether JCPS intends to require their daughter to share a room with a boy. While K.E.M.’s parents had all the information and could make informed decisions about where and with whom K.E.M. would room, D.W.’s parents and the parents of the two other girls were intentionally kept in the dark.

Because of JCPS’s policy, eleven-year-old D.W. was placed in a position where her privacy and comfort were not respected or even considered. Her privacy was violated.”

The letter asks for more information on the district’s policy surrounding overnight trips and whether parents will be informed if their child will have to share a room with a child of the opposite sex. It also asks for the option to opt children out of rooming with children whose biological sex is different from theirs.

Joe Wailes said he was home in Colorado when he started receiving texts from his daughter as she locked herself in the bathroom. “It was a bit of a shock. It was a helpless feeling. Here I am… she was calling me and texting me from the bathroom because she didn’t want the other kids to overhear what she was saying. So it’s a pretty helpless feeling when your daughter is hiding in the bathroom, she’s trying to convey a message to you, and you’re 2,000 miles away and can’t do anything.”

He said that before this happened he had thought issues surrounding transgender students were overblown. “I’ve been hearing about all these issues just like everybody else around the country. And I thought it was being a bit sensationalized. I didn’t think it was happening that frequently. And it came to our doorstep. So we want to make sure that we share the story.”

The district provided a statement, saying, “Because the district was only recently informed, and the trip occurred outside of the school year and through a private travel organization, we are still determining facts. However, it appears that the student’s transgender status was not known when room assignments were made and our understanding is that as soon as their transgender identity was known, room assignments were adjusted.”

It is a recurring theme among districts that implement policies adhering to gender ideology, such as hiding gender transitions from parents, that they will always elevate the desires of transgender students over the needs of all of their other students.

No district epitomized this better than Loudoun County, Virginia, in which board members forced a policy of allowing students to use the bathroom and locker room according to their gender identity despite student and parental backlash. The policy led to the rape of one female student and a despicable coverup. That coverup included the threatened arrest of her father the day she was raped. Her father was arrested (and also prosecuted) a few weeks later at a board meeting discussing the supposed safety of such a policy in order to keep him from speaking. At that meeting, the superintendent lied and said there was no record of any assaults in their bathrooms. The same male student then went and sexually assaulted another girl at another school in the district.

Assuming the allegations are true, JCPS may not have known beforehand that K.E.M. was a boy, but once they did know, their priorities were clear: the comfort of K.E.M. above the privacy and safety of female students. Children know that sharing a room, a bed, or undressing in front of a person of the opposite sex is wrong. It is child abuse to put children in these forced arrangements, all to assuage the mistaken beliefs of transgender students.

Parents must interrogate their school districts on these matters. Does your child’s district allow students of the opposite sex to share a shower, a bathroom, or even a bed with a child of the opposite sex? Does your district hide such information? Does it have policies that keep secret the gender transitioning of a child from his or her own parents?

Maybe you’re like Joe and you think this type of thing doesn’t actually happen. Maybe you think all these parents’ rights groups are getting too worked up. If so, think about how you will feel when you get the call from miles away and your daughter is locked in the bathroom, crying and afraid because she has been assigned to sleep in the same bed as a boy. How will you feel when a physically imposing boy is playing volleyball against your little girl and she gets hurt? Or how will you feel when your son or daughter comes home from school crying because a person of the opposite sex exposed themselves and they now have to refrain from going to the bathroom all day at school because they are scared or uncomfortable?

This is actually happening in K-12 schools today, and children are being harmed, physically and emotionally, as a result.

Parents, you cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous deception and policies that school boards are implementing because you’re afraid of being labeled as transphobic or because you feel sympathy for gender-confused children.

Your children matter too, and if you won’t fight for their safety and well-being, who will? We know from the experience of D.W. and her parents that it won’t be school officials or school chaperones.

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