Shocked Parents on School Secretly Transitioning Their Daughter: ‘I Thought They Were in Our Corner‘
There was a time when parents sent their kids off to school assuming they’d be safe — from violence, from dangerous ideas, from people undermining their authority. But those days are over, and too many families are finding out the hard way.
Jennifer and Dan Mead already had their hands full. Their middle school daughter, who’s on the autism spectrum, had started to really struggle. “Most days she was pretty sad, and we were feeling a little bit desperate,” Jennifer remembered. “What can we do to help our daughter? So I was working with the counselor,” who acted as a go-between with teachers and the family. Their relationship grew over the months, and “I trusted her,” Jennifer insisted.
But trust turned out to be a one-way street, the Meads were horrified to discover. Instead of protecting their daughter, the Michigan school was secretly transitioning her — without Dan and Jennifer’s knowledge. Behind their back, they agreed to call the eighth grader by a masculine name and male pronouns. And the counselor they’d come to love and respect was responsible.
No one asked for her parents’ permission, or even informed them this was happening. To Jennifer and Dan’s face, they didn’t let on that anything was different. They still used her given name and biological pronouns in conversations and on written forms, so the family had no reason to suspect something was wrong. The only reason they found out is because a school official — who’d been carefully doctoring the reports that went home — slipped and forgot to change the girl’s male name on a single document. “We thought, ‘this must be a mistake,’” Dan Mead told National Review. But when they contacted the school, “There was absolute silence,” he said.
Stunned, the parents slowly started to uncover an entire web of deception. After stumbling on the truth, they began to find other clues that their daughter was being fed a steady diet of trans indoctrination. Digging deeper, they found a “queer graphic novel” in her backpack, given to her by the counselor pretending to be Jennifer and Dan’s advocate. Even after they found specialized education plans that detailed their daughter’s life as a boy at school, they tried to give the administration the benefit of the doubt.
But ultimately, the truth was harder to believe: this had been going on for two years. “At one point, she even considered chest binding,” the parents discovered. “I had what I thought was building a trust between us as parents and the school system to help our daughter succeed and help her wellbeing,” Jennifer shook her head. “I was disclosing intimate, private information with the school. … I thought they were in our daughter’s corner,” she said. “I was shocked and I was hurt. This hurt our family and this hurt our child.”
Furious that the Rockford Public School District had betrayed them, they demanded answers. “[A]ll this time they were working with [school] officials [on things like IEPs], those [same] officials were hiding from them the fact that the school district had socially transitioned their daughter without their knowledge,” their attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, explained on Tuesday’s “Washington Watch.”
And yet, “When Dan and Jennifer Mead confronted their school district about it, their school district told them, ‘This is the way it is. This is a policy that we have. This is something we have to do. You just have to understand all this time that we’ve been lying to you,’” Kate said. “And it’s something that’s happening to too many families. It shouldn’t happen to any. But it’s happening to families around the country with school districts that have adopted these dangerous policies.”
Almost immediately, the Meads pulled their daughter out of school and started homeschooling her — a sacrifice for Dan, who had to put off working to accommodate the change. Two months later, they sued. Not only were their rights as parents violated, but as Christians, what the school was doing was a violation of Dan and Jennifer’s religious freedom. “[B]iological sex … is a gift from God, not an arbitrary imposition subject to change,” ADF’s lawsuit argued.
“Schools have no right to make critical decisions for the well-being of my child or anybody else’s child. We know our children best,” Jennifer explained in a sit-down with Fox. “Without this critical information, we were not able to help her like we should have been able to. … [T]his is life-changing information that they were keeping from us intentionally.”
She’s right, her attorney agreed. “Parents have the constitutional and fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their kids,” Anderson emphasized to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “And it’s important in this context, because this is something this child was dealing with that was very difficult. [P]arents have the responsibility to raise their kids — a responsibility given to us by God. And when the school district hides information and lies to parents about important information about their kids, they keep those parents from fulfilling their obligations and it violates the parents’ rights and hurts the kids.”
That much is clear from their daughter’s state of mind now. Since she’s left the toxic environment of the school, “She knows her identity. She knows that she’s female. She knows the truth [that] she was confused because of her autism,” Jennifer shared. “She’s safe, she trusts us. I see her smile. I see her laugh. I see her joyful,” her relieved mom says.
“Her grades are up. She enjoys life, and it’s so wonderful to see because she was miserable almost every single day to the point where she said, ‘Mom, I don’t see the purpose anymore,’ and when we pulled her out of school and loved her and kept her safe and told her the truth of who she is and who she was meant to be, it’s like a weight was lifted off of her shoulders because she didn’t have to deal with this and didn’t have to carry this anxiety with her every day.”
“We have our daughter back,” Dan chimed in.
Unfortunately, not every parent is so lucky. As Kate pointed out, this isn’t an isolated issue. “We’re seeing these kinds of policies all around the country.” What, if anything, can moms and dads do? First and foremost, Anderson urged, “Parents need to know that they have the rights to protect their kids in this circumstance. They need to make these decisions,” tough ones like pulling their children out of public education and homeschooling.
The bottom line is this: They need to do what’s right for their kids, and the law stands behind them,” Kate emphasized. “So be brave.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.