This Mom Discovered “Trans Closets” and “Party Days” – Here’s Why She Moved Her Family Out Of New Mexico

By Ashley McClure

Rachael Hein and her family lived in New Mexico for almost 20 years and had no plans to leave. Last year, however, Hein discovered that her daughter’s prospective high school planned to install a “transgender closet” where students could change identities at school. This discovery, combined with a years-long history of their concerns being ignored by Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS), ultimately led Hein’s family to leave the state they called home for so long.  

Hein said she was “getting everything all lined up” for her daughter’s enrollment at Las Cruces’ Centennial High School last year when an article posted by a concerned community member on Facebook caused her to reconsider.

“I thought, ‘please tell me this is a joke,’” Hein said. “The high school my daughter was going into had been awarded a $10,000 grant to get a ‘transgender closet’ installed.”

The closet, according to It Gets Better, the nonprofit that funded the grant, would be “gender-inclusive […] providing affirming supplies and clothes for trans and gender non-conforming students.”

“If you go to school and you don’t want your parents to know you’re changing your identity at school, there you go,” Hein said. “There’s your closet to do that without any [parental] knowledge. They’re trying to keep us out.” 

Hein called the school’s decision to build the closet “depraved.” 

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

During the enrollment process, Hein said she noticed a change to the online enrollment forms. The form now included a section asking for parents to give LCPS permission to provide healthcare in schools.

Surprised by this new question, Hein said she investigated New Mexico legislation on the subject and discovered Senate Bill 397, titled “School-Based Health Centers.” According to Hein, the “ambiguous” bill gives school health centers the right to treat students without any language or provisions requiring parental consent. 

This transfer of medical responsibility from families to schools is just one more way that public schools are trying to take the place of parents, Hein said.

“It’s them opening the door to, well, you’re too busy to take them to their pediatrician, so we can handle that here,” she said. “ And once you give over that control, then they can start giving them treatments and all kinds of things that parents are not in the know about.”

Hein said that was the line for her and her family. While her older children could have weathered the schools’ radical ideology unscathed, she said she didn’t want her eight-year-old and four-year-old to deal with indoctrination at their age. 

“[My eight-year-old] is not going to be able to differentiate between what’s right and wrong, and it will be very confusing that the teachers who she’s around so much, and maybe even the counselors, are pushing [gender ideology] as though it is good,” Hein said.

While these discoveries ultimately pushed Hein and her family to leave New Mexico, the chain of events that led to their decision started years earlier. 

“It all started right after the pandemic,” Hein said. “I didn’t like how the school board was making unanimous decisions about all of the extra hours and extra school days they were trying to push on the kids.”

According to Hein, the LCPS district her children attended added 10 school days to the 2022—2023 calendar to make up for pandemic learning loss. The flaw in this plan, she said, was that not only did the school board fail to consult parents in good faith, the additional days did not end up being used for academics. 

“It was a disaster,” Hein said. “Some schools got approval to do field trips, but most of the time [the kids] just stayed in school and had party days. My seventh-grader said they did no schoolwork at all.” 

At a presentation given by a member of the New Mexico Public Education Department, Hein said, the real reason for the additional days was revealed. Speaking via Zoom to concerned parents, the presenter said that children needed to be kept in school longer because “we want the kids to be with the adults who matter most.” 

“That got under my skin,” Hein said. “They have zero respect for families, or for anyone outside their own bubble of ‘we know better than you.’” 

In addition to the New Mexico Public Education Departments’ stated goals of keeping children in school to maximize their time with teaching staff instead of with parents, Hein said she found out that the school district was receiving about $13 million from the state—$550 per student—for those 10 “enrichment” days. 

“Most of the teachers did not even get access to that money because it was insanely difficult for them to get approval to use it,” she said. “So where did that money go?”

Matters came to a head when the school board scheduled an open forum for parents to discuss their concerns about the additional days planned for the 2023—2024 calendar. 

“Us parents were supposed to have a chance to address the school board and ask questions,” Hein said. “But none of the school board members were there. Not a single one.”

Hein said she later found out that, at the time the school board was supposed to be listening to parent concerns, they were actually meeting in Santa Fe to advocate for the “great success” of the extended school year to New Mexico’s Public Education Department.

“This shows how little respect they have for the parents in their community,” she said. 

That first year after the pandemic, according to Hein, was detrimental to her childrens’ academic progress. While she said they had made significant leaps as a result of her homeschooling efforts during the pandemic, that progress was lost after they returned to public school.

“My son was very strong in his core subjects because I wasn’t letting him slack off [at home], but everyone else in his class was behind,” Hein said.  “And even though he had a veteran teacher, who had been teaching for 20-plus years, he regressed because they were teaching at such a low level that he wasn’t being challenged.”

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

“Our children are the future of this country,” Hein said. “What is the future going to look like if parents aren’t caring about what’s going into their kids’ minds?”