St. Louis Hospital advises school district to hide student’s ‘chest binding’ from parents

A Missouri hospital advised a public school district to hide information about students engaged in “chest-binding” from their parents.

The revelations came only after a public records request by Parents Defending Education (PDE) uncovered emails between St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Parkway Schools in St. Louis County.

The emails, dated Jan. 20, 2022, show a student counselor contacted the Washington University Transgender Center (WUTC) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with questions about how students can safely engage in chest-binding, the act of constricting breasts to appear less feminine.

The email exchange includes a link to a YouTube video called “Working with Transgender Students” – a nearly two-hour-long back-to-school presentation created by WUTC.

In the video, the WUTC program manager addresses the “ethical debate” of hiding the practice from parents, ultimately advising school officials to not inform parents.

“There is a lot of ethical debate about this, because parents are the parents, they’re in charge,” says the WUTC program manager. “On the other hand, the kids are with all of you 6 to 8 hours a day. I believe that the best practice would be to respect that kid’s gender identity to the best that you can, without informing the parents, throughout the school day as much as you can.  

“Working with the student, and being like, ‘OK, we can’t change your name on all the things because we have to tell your parents. So we can’t do that, but here’s where we can change your name.’” 

This instruction comes from a section of the video dedicated to handling “privacy and disclosure” between parents and students. The records request confirmed the video was shown to Parkway Schools officials in August 2021. 

“We are seeing an increase in students wanting to use chest binders,” the counselor’s January email said. “…There were also times when the student’s parents did not know that their student was using a binder and would not have approved of it but the school counselor was made aware.” 

The school counselor followed with a list of questions indicating the desire to hide as much as possible from parents: 

  • “Do we have an obligation to tell parents if we learn the student is using a binder?” 
  • “It seems that it would be beneficial for others in the building (nurse, PE teacher, music teacher) to know if a student is using a binder for safety reasons. Should we have a procedure for telling others on a need-to-know basis? (Again for safety)” 
  • “I know our staff wouldn’t necessarily want to tell the parents but were curious if they HAD to if it becomes a health issue?” 

A later follow up indicates the school had cases of a student passing out due to constriction of the chest. 

The redacted email chain closes with a statement from the WUTC program manager, which reads: “My biggest concern would be if an unsupportive parent learns this handout is being distributed, the ramifications could be significant.” 

Such is the excuse given by many school districts across the nation that adopt the practice of hiding transitioning student information from parents. 

In a statement, the district simply claims to include parents in decisions about name and gender changes:  

“The District does not have a policy addressing chest binding and parental notification,” and that when a child seeks to change their name or gender that the process “begins with a discussion with the parent or guardian, or, if the student is 18 years old, with the student.” 

Alex Nester, PDE investigative fellow, told Fox News Digital that activists are “poisoning” the parent-doctor relationship.

“Teachers across the country have already tried shutting parents out of the classroom, now they want to shut them out of medical decisions,” Nester said. “This is both dangerous and unconscionable, and we must stop it before it goes any further.”