After an 11-year-old girl from Colorado was paired with a male roommate on an overnight school trip and almost forced to share a bed with him, her parents are hoping to get answers from Jefferson County Public Schools.

According to Joe and Serena Wailes, the incident happened in June 2022 on a trip to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The couple had thought that students would be grouped by gender into rooms and would not be allowed to visit the rooms of the other gender without permission. 

However, they were surprised to learn that the young girl, identified as D.W., was paired in the hotel room with a biological male who identified as female, as well as two female students from her school. The other two females from her schools reportedly shared a bed, and she was paired with the transgender, identified as K.E.M., from another school, the family shared.

D.W. was not aware of the anomaly until K.E.M. told her during a conversation that he is a biological boy. Upon the revelation, K.E.M. became uncomfortable and went to the bathroom to call her mother, who had gone on the trip with the students.

The mother and daughter met with a teacher and the school principal, Ryan Lucas, in the hotel lobby to resolve the issue. K.E.M.’s parents spoke with Lucas and confirmed he is a boy but said that students on the trip were not supposed to know about his transgender status. They called it “stealth mode.”

Serena tried to get her daughter assigned to a different room but was only offered the option of sleeping in a different bed in the same room. Meanwhile, the young girl said the bathroom door in the room did not lock. However, she agreed to the arrangement that night, having been exhausted from the trip.

The solutions the chaperones had, however, did not work as D.W. was reportedly asked to lie to her roommates and claim she only wanted to switch beds to be closer to the air conditioner in the room. That lie did not work, as a roommate offered that the pairs swap their beds so that D.W. and K.E.M. could share the bed closer to the A.C.

D.W. went to her mother again, prompting Serena to insist her daughter be given a separate room from K.E.M. While the chaperones agreed to move K.E.M. and another girl to another room, they refused to be upfront about it and instead “lied about why, saying D.W.’s sick roommate needed more space,”

According to the Wailes, a JCPS teacher ordered the D.W. and other female students left in the room not to say anything about K.E.M.’s trans identity. Hence, the girls’ parents and the parents of the girl eventually paired with K.E.M. were intentionally kept in the dark” about the situation.

Disturbed by the situation, the Wailes sought the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that works to protect religious and free speech rights. The organization sent a letter to JCPS Superintendent Tracy Dorland, detailing the events and asking Dorland to clarify whether the district will inform parents about the gender “of their children’s roommates on school-sponsored trips before the trip” and whether there will be options for parents who do not want their children in the same room with someone of the opposite gender.

The letter also seeks to know whether parents will be told about a school policy that states that students on overnight trips will mostly be placed in rooms according to their gender identity, not their actual gender.