My husband and I looked to a Catholic school to be an ally in our fight to break our daughter free from the grip of gender confusion. We were naive.
Our daughter, now 15, was 13 when she was coached into believing that she was born in the wrong body and could change to be the opposite sex. This led her to self-loathing.
But instead of finding a partner within the Roman Catholic Church, we discovered that our local Catholic high school had adopted procedures that promote transgenderism. This situation has left us with no safe place to educate our child and a profound feeling of disappointment and abandonment.
As I previously wrote for The Daily Signal, our daughter’s transgender identity came with little warning. She started ninth grade at a public charter high school in the fall of 2020, but due to COVID-19 didn’t actually set foot in a classroom.
During the first week of online classes, I noticed that all her teachers were referring to her by male pronouns and a male name. My husband and I were stunned.
We later learned that our daughter, who had been happy as a stereotypical girl up until puberty, had “come out” to her school as “trans.”
When I contacted the charter school, her designated counselor cheerfully informed me that the school permits children to “lead” and self-identify concerning gender without consulting their parents.
The school’s basis for this clandestine social transition was to ensure the “safety” of the child. By extension, the policy must have assumed that all parents are “unsafe,” because a police officer and a Child Protective Services worker soon appeared at our door to ask questions and look around.
We were angered that no one at the school saw fit to clue in the child’s parents on the situation. Moreover, the teachers blatantly hid the name change by sending me emails using our daughter’s given name. Thus, triangulating the relationship among teacher, child, and parents.
Groomed for New Identity
From discussions with our daughter and a deep dive into her internet use, we came to learn that she was being brainwashed by others into thinking she was a male. She was in contact with older trans kids, so-called glitter families, adult males, and internet influencers.
They directed our daughter to dangerous, sexually explicit websites. They instructed her that if she didn’t like her body, she was trans. They taught her how to bind her breasts and dissociate from her body.
We saw too that she was consumed with anime and manga, which don’t simply feature innocuous, doe-eyed comic book characters but include gender-bending, highly sexualized creatures that can disrupt reality in a young brain.
Our daughter clearly had been groomed for her new identity.
We quickly engaged a mental health professional. She warned us that if we did not use the preferred male name and pronouns for our daughter, she likely would commit suicide.
This therapist told us to celebrate our daughter’s new authentic self and tell her how brave she was. She told us that our memories were wrong. She told us that our daughter’s prior stereotypical girlish behavior was just a false facade for her authentic self.
We soon realized that the therapist’s recommendations were wrong and contrary to science. We read everything on the subject, conferred with other professionals, and met with parent groups. We learned that social transition, which begins with a name and pronoun change, is part of medical treatment and the initial step toward irreversible and sterility-causing cross-sex hormones and removal of healthy body parts.
This avenue was not in our daughter’s best interests.
Pushing a Transgender Agenda
We transferred her to the local Catholic school later that fall, believing that the school would be a partner in helping our child come to love herself. Based on the first therapist’s advice, we initially asked the new school to use our daughter’s male name as we worked on reversing her social transition.
We retained another mental health expert, who advised that the first step in helping our daughter find her way back to reality was to carefully backtrack from the name change.
This process needed to be completed slowly, carefully, and with compassion. Our daughter’s mental state was fragile. Her delusion wreaked havoc on her ability to function. She barely had the energy to shower, brush her teeth, or get out of bed for Zoom school.
The reversal of her social transition began with our ceasing to use the male pronouns and name at home. We started by using a nickname, then no name. We then added her female name here and there. Finally, in March of her freshman year, we returned to consistent use of her female name and pronouns.
We looked to our Catholic school to support us in this endeavor. Instead, we found out that the school was directly pushing the transgender ideology through one of its “inclusion” clubs, called the Pride Student Union or PSU.
The spring welcome email from the Pride Student Union relayed all of the student officers’ preferred pronouns and included an announcement by the club president, a biological female, that she was “queer.” (“Queer” is a term that has expanded in youth circles to refer to those who believe all sexual norms should be obliterated.)
This email explicitly stated that the club’s formal meetings are “teaching” meetings. The most recent such meeting, it said, was about black history and queerness. (The trans movement clearly has acted on advice to link its message to the more popular civil rights movement.)
The listed activities of the Pride Student Union included a “Formal Meeting About Gender Identity.” At the end of March, the club president sent out this message:
Happy Trans Day of Visibility! For everyone who identified as Transgender, I sincerely hope this day and all those around you empower you . … This is YOUR day!
The club president’s email included links to GLAAD and GLSEN, overtly transactivist groups that recommend ways for children to reject their families if these relatives don’t support them (that is, affirm their trans identity and medicalize them with puberty blockers and so on).
These groups also instruct kids in how to get medicalized readily and how to force teachers and parents to accommodate their identity choices, without any recommendation that they first pursue exploratory therapy.
Meeting With the Principal
In May, the Pride Student Union at our daughter’s Catholic school announced that it would have another formal meeting on gender identity, the club president’s favorite subject.
As is the case with all school clubs, a faculty member was required to attend each meeting of the Pride Student Union. Given the number of meetings focused on gender ideology, this faculty member—and therefore the Catholic school—approved of teaching an ideology that is antithetical to the Roman Catholic Church.
I asked the club’s leader to stop emailing my daughter, as we believed that this club was indoctrinating my daughter further into the gender cult.
I met with the school principal, who I’ll call Ms. K, and the school’s chaplain, Father B. I told them my daughter’s story. I begged them to help me. Instead, they simply offered excuses.
Principal K and Father B said that the Pride Student Union’s most recent formal meeting on gender had not been sanctioned by the school, and may have occurred without faculty oversight. But I know that the faculty member was invited to an earlier meeting on gender, so I was skeptical.
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Principal K and Father B tried to argue that the club doesn’t “teach” anything. I disagreed.
They went on to say that they couldn’t control what students do on their own time. They went so far as to compare the gender meetings to off-campus parties that weren’t sponsored by the school. It was obvious to me that they wanted to distance the school from the club to protect themselves from possible legal ramifications.
A Social Contagion
I asked Principal K and Father B to remove my daughter’s address from the club’s email distribution list. That request was denied. Students could join any club regardless of parents’ wishes.
I asked if they were aware of the information being presented at Pride Student Union events, specifically the formal meetings on gender, or whether they had queried the faculty monitor, the club president, or any members.
Neither Principal K nor Father B would answer that question, waving it off as if I had no right to be concerned. Yet, Father B told me that my daughter needed the club. He warned me that she might commit suicide without it, and said she needed a place to make friends.
I asked what Father B knew of my daughter. The school chaplain had never met her.
I revealed that I had intervened and blocked my daughter from attending the club’s last formal gender meeting. Principal K and Father B seemed relieved, as the news gave them an opportunity to declare all my concerns moot.
Their relief was short-lived, however, because I told them I was not in the office just to fight for my daughter. I was there to protect all students who attended the club’s meetings.
I know that trans identification has become a social contagion. It is everywhere. I know how proponents of this ideology prey on vulnerable youth. I know how painful it is to watch a child you love struggle with gender dysphoria.
I demanded that Principal K and Father B contact each of the parents of each of the members of the club to let them know what their precious children were being exposed to at this Catholic school. They refused.
Father B infantilized the entire meeting by ending it with this pat statement: “God will help you.”
I found no comfort in those words. I was asking God for help—from the only earthly representations of God available to me, a Catholic educational institution and its leaders.
Our family did later gain one ally: One of our daughter’s favorite teachers agreed to use her female name in class. Our daughter accepted this without incident. Importantly, use of her real name did not cause her to commit suicide.
During the summer break, my daughter’s mental health vastly improved. She was surrounded by people who loved her and who were committed to using her real name. She went on camping trips. She stayed away from social media and constant phone use.
In consultation with her medical team, we concluded that our daughter was stable enough for us to ask all of her teachers to use her real name and proper pronouns. At the inception of our daughter’s sophomore year, I sent an email to each of her teachers requesting that they do so. I emailed information to them about rapid-onset gender dysphoria and invited each to meet with me.
I informed my daughter of my actions. Being a bright kid, she visited some of the links sent to her by the Pride Student Union and learned the language to use to unwind our directive to the teachers. She stated that she would be “uncomfortable” if teachers didn’t use her preferred male name and pronouns.
These discordant requests brought me back into contact with Principal K. She sent me an email that, in relevant part, stated:
As a … school, we foster an inclusive and welcoming environment where our students feel safe to ask for their preferred name. … We cannot, however, ask any student to come into a classroom space where they do not feel emotionally safe and supported.
This implied that Principal K believed that our home is unsafe, as are the homes of my brothers and sisters, parents and parents-in-law, and every other adult in my daughter’s life, as we had all been using her female name.
In her email, the principal continued by saying that the “school would not deny a reasonable request from a parent.”
Apparently, though, it is unreasonable for teachers to use birth names and proper pronouns, but reasonable to refer to a female as a male.
A Psychiatrist’s Warning
Principal K summoned our 15-year-old daughter into a private, in-person meeting to query her about her preferred name, thus directly removing us, her parents, from the equation. We were not surprised that during this meeting our daughter responded that she prefers the male name.
Her basis for this need was unconvincing, as she wrote in an email to the school confirming her choice: “To feel like I belong, I want to be able to be called by my preferred name and be respected by the school.”
Principal K and the school’s president, who I will call Mr. D, stated that the situation could be remedied only by our daughter’s recantation or our parental capitulation. Otherwise, we would be asked to leave the school. They could not have a student who is uncomfortable in class.
In advance of our face-to-face meeting, we provided Principal K and President D with copies of three documents: Pope Francis’ “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education” (2019); Minnesota Catholic bishops’ “Guiding Principles of Catholic Schools and Religious Education Concerning Human Sexuality and Sexual Identity” (2019); and Arlington, Virginia, Bishop Michael Burbidge’s “A Catechesis on Human Person and Gender Ideology” (2021).
We sent them a letter from our daughter’s psychiatrist—who holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Ivy League institutions—stating that her progress would be hindered if adults in positions of authority called her by the male name and pronouns.
We assured Principal K and President D that state law did not require their school to use child-directed names or identities. We warned them that by complying with my daughter’s delusion, they risked indoctrinating additional students.
To assuage any fear of liability for suicide, we offered them an agreement absolving them from blame for any harm to our child caused by using her given name.
Our Catholic school’s principal and president did not relent. They moved off the excuse of “safety” and “discomfort” concerns, since they couldn’t explain how using a name and pronouns was unsafe or could cause discomfort when every other adult in our child’s life uses those terms.
Turning to Bishops
Their new tactic was to blame the school’s teachers. Principal K and President D said that they personally would follow our requests, but it was “untenable” for teachers to do so. Despite asking, we never got an explanation of what untenable meant in this context.
Given that some of the teachers put their preferred pronouns in their own contact information (including a science teacher, no less), it’s clear that some faculty members at this Catholic school are comfortable abandoning our religion.
My husband and I offered to discuss the matter with any teacher who was worried about causing discomfort to our child for using the name and pronouns that we used daily.
The school principal and president not only declined this request, but directed us not to speak to teachers about the name issue. The unspoken punishment for breaching that directive would be expulsion.
I was so upset that I called our local bishop. I left messages. I emailed repeatedly. I showed up at a bishops’ luncheon and hand-delivered my story. I was met with silence.
I called neighboring bishops. I was ignored. I called the head of the Department of Catholic Schools in our jurisdiction several times. No one called me back.
It was obvious to me that the safeguarding of children never will be the Catholic Church’s priority.
We were left with a “Sophie’s choice.” We either could harm our child by removing her from the only feasible school option, or harm our child by contradicting her psychiatrist’s recommendations and exposing other students to trans ideology. We begrudgingly chose the latter.
As I routinely do to institutions dealing with children, I delivered copies of Abigail Shrier’s 2020 book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” to all of our daughter’s teachers, to educate them on rapid-onset gender dysphoria.
The school again threatened us with expulsion because, per the principal, the delivery of that bestsellercaused “great discomfort” to both the school secretary who received the books from me, and our daughter’s teachers, some with whom I had promised the book.
I am not sure of the meaning of “great discomfort,” but I expect it’s not anywhere close to the “great discomfort” I felt knowing that our Catholic school had adopted gender ideology.
As our daughter’s mental health continued to improve, she told us that she would be “a girl again.” She emailed all of her teachers to request they use her real name.
Her religion teacher refused, however, even after our daughter sent several follow-up emails. This teacher said that she herself was uncomfortable using our daughter’s real name. Our daughter assured her that she felt safe using this name.
But the religion teacher, in an obvious show of power, made it a point of using the male name in anything that was visible to me in our daughter’s grade book.
After our daughter asked the teacher by email to please use her real name, this teacher said that she would compromise and call our daughter by her last name.
We don’t believe that our school can call itself a Catholic institution anymore. It sanctions a club that cheerleads for a false ideology with impunity and rejects the teaching of Pope Francis. It rejects the Catholic Church, the Bible, and biological science.
Sadly, the Catholic Church has adopted a new religion: gender ideology. That said, our school was right about one thing: Our daughter is not safe there. No child is.
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