Jay Keck, a Chicago-area father, is speaking out about how a public school undermined his parental authority by encouraging his special needs daughter to identify as transgender.
Keck’s daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, unexpectedly announced in April 2016 that she was a boy, Keck writes in an opinion piece for USA Today. She was just 14 years old at the time.
“Throughout my daughter’s childhood, there were no signs that she wanted to be a boy. I can’t recall a single interest that seems unusually masculine, or any evidence that she was uncomfortable as a girl,” Keck writes.
His daughter’s mental health challenges often cause her to struggle to form and maintain friendships. When a female classmate who had recently come out as transgender approached her at school, she quickly decided that she, too, was a boy and instructed others to refer to her by a masculine name.
“She first came out as transgender to her school, and when she announced that she was a boy, the faculty and staff—who had full knowledge of her mental health challenges—affirmed her,” Keck writes. “Without telling me or my wife, they referred to her by her new name. They treated my daughter as if she were a boy, using male pronouns and giving her access to a gender-neutral restroom.”
After his daughter revealed her decision to them, Keck and his wife quickly scheduled a meeting with the school. They made it clear, both verbally and in a follow-up email, that they wished the school staff to call their daughter by her legal name.
“[We] later learned that our request was ignored and school staff continued to refer to her by the male name,” Keck says.
When the Kecks subsequently met with the school’s superintendent, they were told that the school was simply following the law. But there is no such law—only a 2016 directive from the Obama administration that directed schools to “officially affirm transgender students.” The guidelines were blocked by a judge that same year and rolled back by the Trump administration in 2017.
In the Op-Ed, Keck notes that he learned the American Civil Liberties Union has threatened schools with lawsuits if they refuse to follow the child’s lead concerning gender identity. He also pointed out that the National Education Association has “partnered with the Human Rights Campaign and other groups to produce material advocating automatic affirmation of identities, name changes and pronouns, regardless of parents’ concerns.”
Keck’s daughter was even evaluated by a psychologist who agreed that her sudden transgender identity was driven by her underlying mental health conditions, but the psychologist refused to share his professional opinion for fear of backlash.
Now 18 years old, Keck’s daughter is more convinced than ever that she is a boy, Keck says. He worries doctors will agree to prescribe testosterone injections without performing any extensive mental health assessments.
“She can turn to any one of Illinois’s 17 Planned Parenthood clinics for cheap and easy access,” he says.
The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that 2% of U.S. high school students now identify as transgender.
“Through all this, I’ve learned that I’m not alone,” Keck says. “Many parents just like my wife and me are often afraid to speak out because we are told we are transphobic bigots, simply because we do not believe our children were born into the wrong bodies. … I feel my daughter is a victim more than anything else.”
Jonathon Van Maren, director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, wrote of the dangers of the transgender movement: “The transgender phenomenon is destroying children and teens, and there will be much suffering in the years ahead as boys and girls grow up to grapple with the permanent decisions that adults are facilitating and enabling.”