Today’s article is a heck of a ride. Buckle up, my friends. I’m sure some of you will agree with me, and others will not. Regardless, it’s an interesting and informative (and horrific) story that needs to be told, because I firmly believe it’s happening on many fronts. As with everything I write about, there are problems on both sides, and blame, and shame.
A Virginia high school student ran away from home and was sex-trafficked through multiple states — in part because her high school failed to tell the child’s parents she identified as a male and was relentlessly bullied for it, a suit alleges.
Anytime a media outlet starts with “sex trafficked through multiple states,” you know it’s going to be a shit show. I feel so bad for the child involved. There are so many failures in this, at so many levels, that it’s really difficult to lay it out. I’m going to try, though.
Let’s look at the facts of this case. Please remember this is all “alleged”.
Sage, the child in question, is said to be a long-term sufferer of mental health issues. Now that may be because of her gender confusion, because of home issues such as abuse or neglect, or any number of other things. I could not find anything explaining the reason for the mental health issues. The article mentions she had a “troubled childhood,” which could mean anything from caring and strict parents who wouldn’t let her date at 13, to parents who beat her for setting the table wrong. We don’t know.
Sage was 14 when this happened, in 2021. She went to school, and began to be bullied on the bus. Again, it’s unclear whether she was bullied because she was identifying as male, or because of her slight build. What we do know is that several boys on her bus, “…threatened to rape her until she ‘liked boys,’ threatened to hold her out of the bus window by her hair unless she apologized and threatened to shoot her…”
Let’s start right here. Those boys, regardless of anything else, should be charged with something. Anything. I don’t care if Sage identified as a fish. Threatening someone with rape, physical assault and battery, and death is wrong. There is no way to make that innocent. If it happened (and apparently the school acknowledges it did), then why were those boys permitted to be on the bus? Why was Sage’s mother not told about the boys’ behavior? Why were the boys not expelled, or better yet, charged with assault and battery? What the heck was the bus driver doing during this? I have so many questions, long before we EVER get to the issue of being trans.
Sage told guidance counselors. She told them about the abuse, and that she identified as a boy. The staff did not tell Sage’s mother about either part of the incident. Instead, the staff told her to use the boy’s bathroom. I’m sorry, what?
Now we reach the trans part. Sage, who was 14 at the time, says she identified as a boy. Whether this led to the bullying or (more likely in my opinion) the bullying led to the new identification isn’t clear. I can certainly understand why someone who was being bullied by males would want to then BE a male. Being a part of the bullies instead of the object of their derision is a very simple way of getting away from bullying. The boys apparently continued to touch her and threaten her with knife violence and rape, while thrusting her against hallway walls.
The bullying was so bad that OTHER parents began to make reports. Let that one sink in. There were other parents aware of this bullying, while Sage’s parent was kept out of the loop. It wasn’t until almost three weeks later that Sage’s mother was told about Sage using the boy’s bathroom, but failed to explain about the gender identity issue. The counselor just told her about self harm injuries on Sage’s body. It was a few days later when Sage’s mom discovered a hall pass with a male name on it and Sage finally came clean to her mom about the entire thing. Sage claimed that she was only using the boys bathroom because the counselor had told her to do so.
All of this, weeks and weeks of bullying and questions about her self-identity, led her to have a psychotic break. She ran away, and ended up being abducted by a male she didn’t know, who raped her and took her to Washington DC. There, the stranger handed her off to other adult males who drugged and raped her repeatedly. Those men took her to Maryland and left her with “…a registered sex offender who kept her locked in a room after raping her and sex-trafficking her out to others…”
Baltimore authorities “rescued” her. But because her parents weren’t “sufficiently affirming” of Sage’s gender identity, she was sent to a juvenile facility for boys. There, we have more of the same: drugs, rape, physical threats, and denial of medical and mental health care. Escaping that place, she got picked up by another predator, with more rape, drugs, and added to that, starvation and torture. It was January of 2022 when she finally was returned to her mother in Texas.
This poor child. I cannot imagine. I am horrified by this entire story.
The school failed to a) report bullying, b) punish bullying, c) inform parents of issues with their child. Why did they do this? I can actually answer this question. The school (rightly or wrongly, doesn’t really matter) believed that if Sage were to tell her parents that she was having body issues, they would abuse her in some way. I know this is what the school was thinking because it’s what the Left, as a whole, believes will happen.
As someone who’s “been there, done that” on a number of topics, I can say that the fear is a real thing. It’s based on real stuff. I remember living through the 80s, when being gay or bisexual meant you were treated like you were a child molester. When being pagan meant people who professed to be Christian did things like whip Bible verses tied to rocks through your front window, and burned crosses on your front lawn. When playing Dungeons and Dragons meant you were an evil monster who had to be yanked out of school and castigated. When those of the female persuasion were assumed to be on a “secretarial track” or a “Mrs. Degree track,” and nothing else.
I know that friends and family who have kids who profess to be trans (and it doesn’t matter if they are, or if they’re just confused) who are terrified because they live in Red states and are now in a situation where they feel like they have to deny their kids’ concerns or they could lose their kids entirely.
I will say, I do not believe that children should be taking hormones or getting surgeries to change their gender. We don’t let kids get tattoos or drink alcohol, because they aren’t old enough to make rational decisions. Why would we let them change their bodies in such a huge way? But on the other side of that, is the knowledge that kids are going to do what kids are going to do. If you don’t want them to sneak behind your back and get off market testosterone behind the tracks (because frankly, that’s where I see this going… if we could get pot and hash when we were in high school, there’s nothing stopping our kids from getting hormones today), you have to support them. That means accepting certain age appropriate things.
If a kid wants to wear clothing of the other gender, let them. Be clear, they’re probably going to get bothered at school, but who cares? Teach them to stand up for themselves, and let them wear whatever clothes they want, provided it meets the school’s clothing policies. No one is going to be damaged because a boy wore a skirt or a girl wore a pair of boys’ slacks. Explain that our bodies and minds continue to mature until about age 25, and that just as we ask them to avoid alcohol until they’re adults, we’re asking them to avoid medical manipulations until they’re adults. Why? Because they could change their minds. And here’s the thing… if you support them in every other way, they are less likely to push for medical manipulations.
Support is the answer to what’s going on. If Sage’s mom had been allowed to support her, the outcome might have been incredibly different. When a kid tells you they’re not the right gender, arguing with them isn’t going to give you a win. All it’ll do is alienate your kid, and push them to do the very things you don’t want them to do. It makes the whispering voices of their friends sound louder and more rational. Instead, offer a helping hand:
“You think you’re in the wrong body? That must be hard. You know I don’t deal well with this kind of thing, but I love you, and I support you no matter what. Let’s get you in to see a therapist. No, not because you need to be convinced you’re in the right body; because you are worried you’re in the wrong body, and that’s got to be a huge mental health blow. Instead of ignoring it, let’s pay attention to it, and find you someone reasonable to talk to. I know a large number of trans oriented teens are depressed and sometimes suicidal, and I want to help you not be either of those things, and therapy is the best way to start this out.”
Acceptance, help, love, and honesty. These are the things that keep communication lines open with our kids. I’ve yet to see a Republican or Right leaning person hate their kid just because they profess to be trans… but I know a few who struggle with it, trying to figure out how to deal with it. Kids are going to be kids, and in the vast majority of cases, I suspect these kids will happily go on being whatever gender they were born to if we can just be supportive and loving as they work through stuff.
If schools (and Leftists) knew that the answer to trans leaning kids was love, acceptance, help, and honesty… they’d lose all their ammo. So long as they believe (and in many cases, rightly so, I’m afraid) that home life as a trans leaning kid would be untenable and possibly abusive, they have all they need to continue hiding this kind of stuff from parents. I don’t want to give them anymore ammo, thanks. I want no more excuses for hiding things from me, as a parent.
I’m horrified at what happened to this poor kid. Whether Sage turned out to be male or female presenting doesn’t matter. The school allowed bullying to go above and beyond that, into abuse, assault, and battery. The boys should have had their asses handed to them. They should have been expelled, or put in jail. The school’s hiding of the entire thing likely squashed any possibility of Sage getting the justice she deserves against her aggressors. Lies and deceit are the icing on the cake made by these boys. But the actions began with the boys, and it’s a shame that their abuse and threats are lost in this narrative.
Once more, our schools, teachers, administrators, and counselors have failed. This is another mental health case that has largely fallen into the cracks. Why? It doesn’t fit the narrative nicely. The kid with mental health issues didn’t go shoot a bunch of people. Instead, they ran away and got abused for it. I really don’t know what else to say.
While “fear of right leaning parents” was a (small imo) factor, it does not trump the RIGHT of the parent to know this stuff. And whether the parents were right or left or north of Venus doesn’t matter. The bullying and later assault and battery should have been reported immediately. That assault has no “side”. We can argue that “right leaning parents are too strict” or “left leaning parents allow kids to do whatever they want,” or even “some parents don’t discipline their kids, and their personal beliefs are so poorly expressed in front of their kids that the kids misunderstand and go out and act on misinformation”. None of it matters, though. Sage was abused, and the school was at the center of it. If communication had happened, it is much less likely that Sage would have run off.
There’s a new law being suggested by Virginia lawmakers, one they are coining “Sage’s Law”. Some are calling it a “parental right” law, but it seems to me it’s a family law, designed to protect family units, but not to the point of stupidity. The law, if it makes it, will “…prohibit schools from encouraging children to hide gender identity changes from their parents. It would provide counseling services to those students who identify as a gender different from their biological sex, and it would make, at a minimum, one of the student’s parents aware. If there is a suspected risk of suicide, social services must be contacted by school officials.” I haven’t yet found the text of the actual law, so I only have the article to go on, but so far it sounds pretty darn good.
Children are the responsibility of their parents, first and foremost. Parents only “lend” that authority, in a very limited fashion, to schools while their children are on the premises. To leave a parent out of the loop on something as huge as gender dysphoria, abuse, rape, threats of bodily harm, and death threats is just disgusting. I understand there are a handful of parents out there who are psychotic enough to do horrid things if their child said they were gay or trans, but they still need to be informed. If they’re not capable of parenting, THEN the state can step in and take the child out. But “capable of parenting” is not the same as “accepting of everything the child wants and desires,” and the state needs to recognize that, both socially and legally.
Parental rights are the reason I don’t teach children without their parents’ consent (I am pagan, and have been a minister and religious/spiritual teacher and counselor for many years, and yes I have formal education to back that). My kids have grown up with paganism. One is agnostic, the other is a devout heathen. One is straight as the day is long, and the other is gayer than a $3 bill. I love them both (and the adult children who are out on their own now). When my heathen brought one of their friends to a class I was teaching, I turned the young person away. My heathen was angry with me, but I asked this: “Do you want some Christian or Muslim parent to have the right to teach you behind my back? Do you want them to have the right to spirit you away to some mosque or church without my ever knowing? Nope… so don’t do it to other people’s kids.” Kids under 16 aren’t welcome without a parent actively involved in the class with them. Kids between 16 and 18 can come on their own, with parental permission, and that means I talk face to face with the parent or parents in question, and that parent attends at least one class to know what it is I’m teaching. I know what rights I demand for MY kids, and so I am rabidly protective of those rights for other people’s kids.
Of course, my kids have always felt okay telling me stuff. That’s because I’m “lefty” enough that they know it’s cool. I’ve done it all, when I was younger, and I’m quite the heathen in any number of ways even today. But I’m not my kids’ friend. Not until they’re adults, anyhow. I’m the parent. That means I do unpopular things frequently. Like make them read articles like this one. Why? Because they’ll take it to school and feed it to their friends. And I like to know that common sense words are getting into the minds of kids who have essentially been bred to be factory workers.
I know this rambled. It’s been a long few weeks. I’m still reeling over this case, over the abuse piled onto the kid in it.