I didn’t know that asking for an exam room free from sexualization and gender ideology would cause my pediatrician to discharge my kids from her care.

My now-former pediatrician installed on the wall of every exam room a “Safe Zone” rainbow triangle sticker with the words “sexual orientation,” “gender expression,” and “gender identity.” Meticulously placed in front of the exam table and at a child’s eye level, it was the first thing my daughter noticed on the otherwise blank walls. She asked me to read the words and tell her what they meant. She was five years old and just learning to read.

I told the doctor this was inappropriate sexual content on the wall and there will be no talk of this sticker with my daughter, but when my daughter asked about the sticker again, the doctor told her, “it’s about being inclusive.” This confused my daughter even more.

After a tense disagreement (in another room) about the politics of the sticker, my doctor agreed that it was reasonable to place younger children in exam rooms without the sticker. But she never placed my children in another room or returned my follow-up calls. Instead, a doctor called me and “invited” me to leave the medical practice. It is illegal to discharge a patient without thirty days’ notice in Rhode Island. 

When I demanded he explain the sexually inappropriate content in the exam rooms of pediatricians who claim to teach children about consent and inappropriate sexual contact with adults, he became belligerent. He yelled at me over the phone, “Come on, Nicole! You can be a better parent! Your child deserves an explanation about sex!” I had never met nor talked to this doctor before this phone call.

I responded, “You’re a pediatrician! It is not within your purview to demand I talk to my five-year-old about sex!”  But he continued, “The American Academy of Pediatrics…” I interrupted him, “I don’t care about the American Academy of Pediatrics! Doctors performed lobotomies. You’ve been wrong before and you’re wrong again.” Before he hung up on me, he battle-cried, “We will not abandon our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion!”

I pay my pediatrician for check-ups and throat cultures, not ideological finger-wagging about sex education in kindergarten. But at that moment I realized that gender ideology in medicine and education was not about the health and safety of children. It is about people abusing their positions of power to tell parents how to raise their children. It is about authoritarianism

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island offers “safe zone training” for healthcare providers, and these stickers identify compliant providers. Critics argue these stickers are mere reassurances of “inclusion,” but my former pediatrician told me the stickers are meant to start conversations with children about gender ideology. 

There was nothing on the wall about the irreversible damage of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex change surgeries on children. Hasbro Children’s Hospital even advertises that puberty blockers are “completely reversible” in the face of existing research demonstrating loss of bone density and cognitive function from puberty blockers. No long-term studies have been completed on the unknown harms of puberty blockers.

Later, I received a letter providing thirty days’ notice of discharge because the doctor falsely alleged that I made “disparaging comments about the credentials of the pediatricians” and “the doctor-patient relationship so essential to effective care is unlikely to be restored.”

The doctor-patient relationship will never be restored when politics drives pediatrics and drives wedges between parents and children. How can parents trust that pediatricians are capable of providing “effective care” when the American Academy of Pediatrics only recently agreed to a systematic review of the evidence supporting gender-affirming care after silencing member doctors for years?

I had to call seven pediatricians before I found one taking new patients. My pediatrician didn’t care about the health and safety of my children if she discharged them so abruptly amid a shortage of pediatricians and without referrals.

I hand-delivered my children’s medical release to inspect my new pediatrician’s office for political ideology and confirm she was not a member of a medical group prescribing health care contingent on political beliefs.

I now drive thirty minutes to a new pediatrician, but a longer drive in a state that refuses to keep kids safe from pediatric gender quackery is worth my kids having their “safe zone” at a pediatrician’s office free from sexualization and gender ideology indoctrination.