FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: A Missouri school district’s procedure on overnight trips stipulates that students will be assigned to room with others of the sex they identify with, meaning that biological males who identify as female will be assigned to sleep in the same room as girls.

Room assignments for field trips should be same-sex, with sex being “determined by how the student identifies,” Webster Groves High School Assistant Principal Dwight Kirksey said in an email, according to public documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and obtained by The Daily Signal.  

Shane Williamson, director of the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion office, asked Kirksey how to handle the room assignment for a student whose “gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not match” for an overnight trip to retreat center Camp Wyman in September 2022. 

Webster Groves School District, located in the suburbs of St. Louis, has taken students on trips to Camp Wyman in Eureka, Missouri, for 75 years. The retreat center provides a “DEI Word Bank” on its website with terms including “antiracist,” “intersectionality,” “unconscious bias,” “homophobia,” and “transgender.” 

Camp Wyman did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment. 

Other school districts with similar rooming policies have led to male and female students being told to sleep in the same bed. Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado assigned an 11-year-old girl to share a bed with a male student who identifies as a transgender girl while on a cross-country school trip. Her parents filed a lawsuit on Dec. 4.

When asked about the practice revealed in the emails, Webster Groves Communications Director Derek Duncan told The Daily Signal the district seeks to priorize inclusivity.

“We do not have a policy regarding situations such as that, but we have processes in place that prioritize inclusivity while respecting personal privacy,” Duncan said. “Our goal is to create a safe and supportive environment for all students.”

Webster Groves School District, which enrolls almost 4,500 students, applied its room assignment policy in February 2023 regarding a high school trip abroad. 

Social studies teacher Betty Roberts said in an email that she spoke with Kirksey about the sexual identity-based policy, but she wondered how to know how students identify. 

“I am looking for guidance on how to know how students identify, how to collect that information, and how to protect student privacy in the process,” she said in the email to Kirksey and Williamson. 

Williamson replied with suggested wording for a Google form to determine students’ preferred sex to room with. 

“I reworded the gender identity question because I do not want transgender students to feel like they will be forced to stay based on their gender identity,” Williamson said. 

Questions on the revised roommate questionnaire include “Student last and first name,” “Preferred name,” and roommate requests. Williamson’s recommended form asks students to “Please share your gender identity because this information is also taken into consideration for room assignments.” 

Kirksey and Williamson did not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment. 

Webster Groves has no board-approved policy on transgender roommate assignments, so most parents are not aware that biological males and females could be forced to share a room on an overnight field trip. 

Martin Bennet, secretary and treasurer of the St. Louis County Family Association, the education advocacy nonprofit that conducted the Freedom of Information Act request, told The Daily Signal that parents should be alarmed about the district’s policies.  

“Most any parent does not want their child sleeping with a child from the opposite biological sex and would recoil at the thought,” he said. “I advise parents to no longer assume that commonsense practices prevail in suburban schools since many suburban school districts have fully embraced critical theory and social justice ideologies.”

Editor’s note: This article has been altered to more accurately reflect comments from the Webster Groves School District.

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