A Colorado couple is challenging a school district policy that allowed a male student, who identifies as a female, to share a room with their daughter and other fifth-grade females during an overnight school trip without parents’ knowledge or consent.
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a formal complaint letter Dec. 4 to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) on behalf of Joe and Serena Wailes and their 11-year-old daughter who was assigned to share a room and a bed with the male student during a school trip over the summer to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
ADF attorneys report that the Waileses’ daughter became uncomfortable about the prospect of sharing a bed with a male student after he admitted to her on the first night of the trip that he was a boy. The girl told her mother, who accompanied her on the trip, and together they expressed their concerns to a teacher who was serving as a chaperone.
School chaperones eventually decided to move the trans-identifying student to another room after repeatedly instructing Serena Wailes and her daughter to lie about their concerns in order to conceal the male student’s biological identity from the other 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. 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.”
ADF attorneys explained in their letter that throughout the evening in question, 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, ADF contends.
The Waileses are also requesting that JCPS clarify its policy regarding room assignments for students and state whether parents will be informed that children will be roomed by gender identity rather than sex before a trip begins, giving parents the opportunity to opt out of such arrangements.
Photo of Joe and Serena Wailes courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom