An 11-year-old girl was assigned to share a bed with a male student who identifies as a girl while on a Colorado public school-sponsored trip, according to attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom.

ADF writes,

In June 2023, JCPS [Jefferson County Public Schools] sponsored an overnight trip for fifth-grade students to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Serena and Joe Wailes had a daughter in fifth grade, D.W., who attended the trip. They were assured in multiple parent meetings leading up to the trip that male and female students would be staying not only in different hotel rooms but also on completely different floors. And they were told that their daughter would room with three other girls.

Serena decided to accompany her daughter on the trip, but she did not serve as a chaperone. During the trip, the students were told that boys and girls were not allowed to visit each other’s hotel floors without permission. D.W. was assigned to share a room with two students from her school and one student from a different school whom she did not know.

D.W. was supposed to share a bed with K.E.M., the student from another school. So D.W. was friendly and tried to make K.E.M. feel included. But on the first night, K.E.M. identified as transgender to D.W.

D.W. was understandably uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a bed with a male student, so she snuck into the bathroom and quietly called her father and then her mother, who met her in the lobby of the hotel. Serena contacted a chaperone on the trip, who then contacted a trip leader.

The chaperones asked D.W. if she could simply move to another bed rather than a new room, and while she was still uncomfortable, she agreed to try it for one night so that she could get some sleep. But the chaperones, consistent with district policy, told D.W. to lie about the reason and say she needed to switch beds to be closer to the air conditioner.

Once the chaperone and D.W. were back in the hotel room, however, another roommate suggested that K.E.M. also switch to the bed closer to the air conditioner. D.W. was afraid to speak up in front of the other roommates on the contentious topic of gender identity, so she went into the hall and again told Serena she was uncomfortable.

Finally, the chaperones agreed to rearrange the rooms so that D.W. was in a room with only one other girl. But they again told her to lie about the reason for the room change, blaming it on a sick roommate who needed more space.

ADF attorneys sent a letter on behalf of the Waileses asking the school district to clarify by December 18, 2023, if it would be forthright with parents in the future regarding whether their children should be concerned about sharing rooms with members of the opposite sex on overnight trips.

All of this underscores the importance of Arkansas’ Act 317 of 2023.

This good law by Rep. Mary Bentley (R – Perryville) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R – Jonesboro) addresses privacy in public school locker rooms, showers, restrooms, changing areas, and similar facilities by requiring public schools to designate these facilities for “male” or “female” use.

It also generally prevents public schools from housing students with members of the opposite sex on overnight trips.

Every student in Arkansas has a right to physical privacy and safety at school and on school-sponsored trips.

Public school students’ school records are protected by law, because we value student privacy. A student’s physical privacy should be just as important. Act 317 helps protect the physical privacy of public school students in school showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and similar facilities on campus, and it helps protect physical privacy and safety on overnight trips.

Family Council was pleased to support passage of Act 317. We are grateful to Rep. Bentley and Sen. Sullivan for sponsoring Act 317, and to the General Assembly for passing this good law.

Act 317 will help prevent situations like this one highlighted in Colorado from happening in Arkansas. That’s something to celebrate.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.