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Brave 11-year-old girl refuses to share bed with boy on overnight school trip; her parents now demand answers from district
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Brave 11-year-old girl refuses to share bed with boy on overnight school trip; her parents now demand answers from district

The parents of an 11-year-old Colorado girl have solicited the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization dedicated to protecting religious and free speech rights, after their daughter was placed in the same room as a boy on an overnight school trip and nearly forced to share a bed with him.

Last June, the 11-year-old daughter of Joe and Serena Wailes was one of many students who participated in a trip to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., sponsored by Jefferson County Public Schools, a district located just west of Denver. The Waileses were under the impression that during the overnight portions of the trip, students would be segregated by sex and would even be prohibited from visiting the rooms of members of the opposite sex without permission.

"Girls on one floor, boys on another, they’re not going to be in each other’s rooms unless it is pre-approved," Serena Wailes recalled district representatives repeatedly saying, according to the Daily Signal.

During the trip, the Waileses' daughter, identified only as D.W., was arranged to share a hotel room with two female students from her school and a student from another school, identified as K.E.M. As each hotel room had two beds and four students, students had to share bed with a fellow student, and D.W. was assigned to share a bed with K.E.M.

To make K.E.M. feel more at ease in a room with strangers, D.W. struck up a conversation. At that point, K.E.M. voluntarily revealed to D.W. that he is a biological boy who identifies as transgender. D.W. became uncomfortable with the prospect of sharing a bed with a boy. She immediately went to the hotel room bathroom, which reportedly did not lock, and called her mother, who had accompanied the students on the trip but was not an official chaperone.

According to a letter that ADF sent to JCPS Superintendent Tracy Dorland on Monday on behalf of the Waileses, what happened next was a series of lies and obfuscations that attempted to protect "K.E.M.’s privacy and feelings" at the expense of the privacy and feelings of other students and parents. Serena Wailes, D.W., a teacher, and Principal Ryan Lucas met in the lobby of the hotel. Lucas then spoke with K.E.M.'s parents, who confirmed that K.E.M. is a boy but insisted that he was supposed to be in "stealth mode," "meaning students on the trip would not know about their child’s transgender status."

While Serena Wailes requested that D.W. be assigned to a different room, the chaperones asked D.W. whether she would consider remaining in the same room but sleeping in a different bed. As she was exhausted from the long trip, D.W. reluctantly agreed to those arrangements for one night.

D.W. was also instructed to lie to her roommates and indicate she had to change beds to be closer to the air conditioner, the ADF letter claimed, which led to an unforeseen new problem: one of the roommates suggested that the pairs swap beds so that D.W. and K.E.M. could share the bed next to the air conditioner.

Once again feeling uncomfortable, D.W. met with her mother in the hallway. At that point, Serena adamantly insisted that D.W. be given a different room. "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 ADF letter said.

According to the letter, D.W. and the other two girls originally scheduled to share a room with K.E.M. were ordered by a JCPS teacher to keep K.E.M.'s transgender identity a secret. Except for the Waileses, the girls' parents, including the parents of the girl who moved rooms with K.E.M., "were intentionally kept in the dark" about it as well, the letter claimed.

JCPS policy, referred to as JB-R, states that in "most cases," students on overnight trips will be placed in rooms that accord with their so-called gender identity, not their sex. The policy further states that 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."

However, ADF argued, this policy puts the "safety and comfort" of trans-identifying students ahead of the "safety and comfort" of everyone else, including young girls like D.W.:

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. And then, to try to protect her privacy, D.W. had to risk social ostracization because school officials required her to raise her privacy concerns during the trip and in front of other students and teachers, including the transgender student. Because JCPS’s policy prioritizes the “safety and comfort” of only transgender students to the exclusion of all other students, there was no way for D.W.’s parents to request an accommodation prior to the trip so they could protect D.W.’s privacy and “minimiz[e] stigmatization” of D.W. Therefore, an eleven-year-old child was placed in a position where she feared social backlash if she requested a different room in front of other students.

ADF requested that the superintendent clarify whether, going forward, parents will be informed about JB-R and about "the sex of their children’s roommates on school-sponsored trips before the trip" and whether the school offers other options for parents who object to opposite-sex roommates for their children. ADF also requested all district documentation on JB-R, including training materials and emails.

Superintendent Dorland has not yet responded to the letter publicly. She also did not immediately respond to Blaze News' request for comment.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News. She has a Ph.D. in Shakespearean drama, but now enjoys writing about religion, sports, and local criminal investigations. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.
@cortneyweil →