Emails Expose Elementary School’s Hidden Effort to Conceal Students’ Gender Transitions from Parents

An open records request revealed that school officials had devised a plan to conceal students’ gender transitions from their parents.

Nicole Solas shared screenshots from an email exchange. Nicole Solas is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum. Nicole Solas was asked by a district principal to provide guidance on how to address students who have their parents’ explicit instruction not to use the child’s preferred pronouns or chosen name.

Amanda Pawelski, Principal of Laurel Elementary School, contacted Marlene Gross-Taylor, Chief Equity, and Academic Officer at PSD on March 31, 2022, to ask how school staff could help gender-questioning students without being “covered legally.”

“I’m wondering about what to do when an elementary school student has expressed their pronouns and chosen name but their parents directly tell school staff not to call the student by those pronouns,” Pawelski wrote to Gross-Taylor. “I feel very strongly about supporting the student but have heard that we legally have to follow the parents’ direction due to the age of the child (elementary school).”

Pawelski claimed that she was told, “this is different at secondary schools because of legal determination ages.”

“Then, tonight, I asked about it in the ABCs Training and was told that it doesn’t matter if elementary or secondary and that the law does not make that distinction. That we should follow students, not parents,” Pawelski wrote. “I would like to get a more precise answer than what I have experienced, and to know how to guide my teachers.”

The assistant principal said that the school wanted to support students while being legally covered.

Gross-Taylor sent Pawelski’s email directly to Shayna Seitchik (district’s LGBTQIA+ Coordinator) and Darcie Votipka (school official).

Gross-Taylor was emailed by Seitchik explaining that Darcie and she met to discuss the inquiry into the assistant principal.

“Darcie and I met to discuss this. Both agreed that the school should use a student’s affirming and pronouns at school, and use their legal names and corresponding pronouns in talking with the family until they support the student’s new name or pronouns,” Seitchik said.

“Darcie informed me that she had previously connected with the previous legal team regarding this for guidance, and they were supportive of it,” Seitchik said.

Gross-Taylor replied to Pawelski on April 5, 2022, and suggested that she use the students’ preferred pronouns, chosen name at school, and legal name and pronouns in conversations with their families.

Pawelski contacted Seitchik to clarify whether school officials can legally call students by their preferred pronouns or chosen names, even though their parents have specifically forbidden it.

“Does this apply to students who choose their own name, even if a parent explicitly says not to?” Pawelski was curious. “I want to ensure that we are still covered if the student uses their chosen name at school, even in this instance.”

Solas wrote in a Twitter thread: “Emails reveal @Poudreschools began secretly transitioning K-5 student last year using students’ preferred name & pronouns, but legal names with their parents.”

Responding to the allegations, Poudre School District stated, “While we cannot comment on specific students, the entire email thread obtained through an open records request in November 2022 does show that the school replied affirmatively to the family that the child was using preferred names and pronouns while attending school when directly asked.” This is clear in the email sent on March 31, 2022.

The district stated that “no staff deceived or lied to parents.” “We stand behind our staff, who tirelessly support students and their families.”

Solas reacted to the comments made by the district on Twitter. “You clearly stated that staff should ignore parents who don’t want their children brainwashed using fake identities.” “Your response is misleading not only parents but also the American public.”