WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of its  exclusive storytelling series, “It’s Time to Put Kids First in Education”, Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) broke the story of Rachael Hein, a longtime New Mexico resident and mom who moved her family out of the state after several incidents caused her to lose faith in the state’s public education system – including “party days” and the installation of “trans closets.”

To tell her story, Rachael Hein sought out Independent Women’s Forum, which works to give a voice to parents who deserve more control and better options when it comes to their children’s education. Hein shared with IWF that she and her family lived in New Mexico for almost 20 years and had no plans to leave until last year, when Hein discovered that her daughter’s prospective high school planned to install a “transgender closet” where students could switch identities at school. 

As part of its “50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices” campaign to middle and high schools, It Gets Better awarded New Mexico Las Cruces Centennial High School, where Hein’s child was headed, $10,000 to build “gender-inclusive closets providing affirming supplies and clothes for trans and gender non-conforming students in New Mexico.” American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., parent company of clothing stores American Eagle and Aerie, contributed customer loyalty program donations to fund the entire It Gets Better grant program.

Hein said that the Las Cruces Public School (LCPS) district her children attended has “zero respect for families.” According to Hein, the district’s policies put public schools in the place of parents – from giving “party days” instead of making up for pandemic learning loss to shifting medical responsibility of children to school administrators, all without consulting parents in good faith. 

“They don’t care what [parents] think—they want to do with our children what they will and to turn them into whatever they want,” Hein shared with IWF. “And that’s not okay with us.”

Hein’s family now resides in a small Midwestern town, where she said her children are finally being held to high academic standards. Their cross-country move is a testament to the extreme failures of New Mexico’s public school system. 

“Parents like Rachael Hein shouldn’t have to leave their state to find a productive, safe learning environment for their children. From the school board telling parents that teachers are the adults that “really matter” in their children’s lives, to Centennial High School facilitating students’ gender “transition” without parental knowledge, the contempt that LCPS appears to have for parents shows why so many families are calling for educational change,” said Ashley McClure, storytelling assistant at Independent Women’s Forum. “Hein’s bravery in speaking out against LCPS’ treatment of her family, as well as her willingness to uproot her life in order to ensure her children’s education, is truly inspiring.”

Read Rachael Hein’s story HERE.

IWF’s storytelling program brings unheard voices to the forefront, providing them a platform to share their personal stories, educate the public, and enhance national discourse with common-sense policy solutions. 

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