School Policies Create a Parent’s Transgender Nightmare


Those of us who worried about the Rhode Island Department of Education’s transgender “guidance” (which quickly became a mandatory regulation) were especially concerned about the provisions encouraging schools to help students “transition” while hiding it from their parents:

… for children as young, presumably, as 14, the school may actively conspire with the student in hiding from his or her parents an issue that is supposedly central to their child’s very being.  In the next paragraph, the “family” is reduced to inclusion only as a parenthetical note, and the school is tasked with discussing “a timeline for the transition in order to create the conditions to provide a safe and supportive environment at the school.”

That is, through its schools, the government is not only seeking to accommodate the challenges of students’ personal lives to the extent necessary to accomplish the primary objective of educating them, but to become actively involved in transforming children’s beliefs and identities — perhaps including irreversible changes to their very bodies.

A recent essay by Jay Keck, an Illinois father whose autism-spectrum daughter declared her own transgenderism after becoming friends with another girl who had already done so, describes how extreme this can get:

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. 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. …

In an IEP meeting just after she told us about being a boy, I told the school that our wishes are to call her by her legal name at all times. The social worker present at the meeting stated that we have that right to make that request, so I assumed school staff would follow our directive. I followed up that meeting with an email, but later learned that my request was ignored and school staff continued to refer to her by the male name. …

My daughter told me that the school social worker was advising her about halfway houses because he thought we did not support her. The social worker confirmed this when I scheduled a meeting with him to discuss it. This felt like a horrifying attempt to encourage our daughter to run away from home.

We had our daughter evaluated by a psychologist approved by the school district. He told us that it was very clear that our daughter’s sudden transgender identity was driven by her underlying mental health conditions, but would only share his thoughts off the record because he feared the potential backlash he would receive. In the report he submitted to us and the school, he did not include these concerns that he would only share in person.

Why might the psychologist do that?  Well, it can’t help that Illinois (like Rhode Island) has a “conversion therapy” ban.  Even if a professional concludes that a child’s parents are correct that transgender feelings are incidental to some other problem, the doctor cannot try to resolve them.  As Keck indicates, this ban can prevent any correction even as a public school system ushers a child toward irreversible changes to his or her body.

This is madness.  And in keeping with the theme, it seems as if people feel they cannot express doubts about the movement.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    This is truly horrifying, not old enough to drive, but old enough to decide what “gender” you are. I am always distrustful of people who say “gender” or “safe”, closely followed by those who will actually say “empowering”.

  • Mario

    I don’t disagree that the the left has gone too far in making the latest fad mandatory policy, but I can’t help but note the irony that Mr. Keck thinks he can demand what name other people call his daughter, and that using the wrong pronouns is causing possibly irreparable harm.

    My stance is always: leave people alone. If she wants to experiment portraying herself as a boy, let her. It is neither the school’s place to “affirm” someone’s gender, nor is it their place to “affirm” someone’s parenting. The demands the parents were making were no less coercive than the mandates the states are passing. The ability for schools and school officials to be able to suggest things like halfway houses and medical care to children in need is more important than following the mandates of the parents. They shouldn’t be forced to request permission every time a child asks for help, and there is nothing wrong with ignoring the wishes of the parents if it seems like the right thing to do.

    People need the freedom to decide a course of action depending on the particular facts of each individual case. Blanket policies in either direction won’t help.

  • Joe Smith

    You left off the end of the op-ed that shows Mr. Keck isn’t though just “some” parent – he clearly has some affiliation with advocacy groups with strong beliefs.

    That of course doesn’t mean his perspective should be discounted, but a bit of disclosure (and it appears based on the wording at the end of the editorial his child (the word the editors use) is still in the process of changing).

    Interesting RI guidance doesn’t seem to address the situation where the child and adult disagree on “preferred” name. That’s an interesting dilemma. Clearly one can imagine a medical situation (child has a food allergy but insists on wanting to be served the food) the school and parents’ wishes might align. The name situation is tricky no doubt.

    Ever been in a classroom where the teacher can’t get your name right

    “public school system ushers a child toward irreversible changes to his or her body.”

    Ushers is a stretch when adding “irreversible changes”. A minor still requires parental consent and in most cases other items (psychological evaluation, etc.) before such medical procedures, assuming you can find someone to do it (and pay for it). Although good old Vermont is trying to push the boundary on that.