District officials says that celebrating “Detransition Awareness Day” is “hurtful” to transgender students, “does not align” with the equity policy; they also claim that Abigail Shrier’s book ‘Irreversible Damage’ “causes harm” despite not having read it, emails reveal.


Emails obtained throug a Freedom of Information Act request reveal Essex Westford School District administration and board members claim that “centering transitioning gender as damaging does not align” with the district equity policy and “can be hurtful to transgender people and youth.”

On February 6, 2023, a parent email to the school board and superintendent requested that “Detransition Awareness Day on March 12 be added to the calendar.” The parent also asked that Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage be placed “on an easel atop the shelves in the HS library.”

The district’s response to the concerned parent states that “people who transition in any direction are recognized on national coming out day and during Pride month” and that the district would “support someone transitioning in any direction.” The response continues by stating that “centering transitioning gender as damaging does not align with the EWSD Equity Policy’s requirement of being LGBTQIA+ affirming.”

The administrator states that “detransition can be hurtful to transgender people and youth” and “we want to meet their mental needs.”

The district equity and inclusion administrator crafted an initial response to the parent but added that they “should probably grab a quick consult” from a local activist.

The response from the outside activist states that the “detransition awareness narrative and literature that this person offered as ‘evidence’ is not scientifically based nor is detransition as common as folks want others to believe it is.”

They continue: “folks (often TERFS) will claim that society, peer groups, and even doctors are forcing people to transition rather than experience the discomfort of puberty or that these people are following a fad” and that it is a “dangerous narrative that hurts efforts to get transgender people the affirming care they need.”

The activist also asserts that “often people who are talking about their detransition may be doing so after being subjected to conversion therapy or are being propped up by organizations that don’t support transgender people.”

Finally, they share that “if detransition awareness was truly a celebration of gender identity in all of its nuance we would view it in the same way the equity policy celebrates those marginalized voices who are often silenced.”

A second parent’s email on February 7, 2023, requested that the district add “World Detrans Awareness Day” to the school calendar. Administration responded that “because of the framing and purpose of this day, we will not be adding it to the EWSD calendar.” The administrator continues by stating that “there is harm to the trans community in the way the day is framed” and that “supporting trans rights and providing representation for trans folks does not cause detransition circumstances.”

The parent asked if “Detrans Awareness Day (DAD) is harming the trans community, does Trans Awareness Day (TAD) harm the cisgender community?”

The equity and inclusion administrator states that they “would not add a day to the calendar where the underlying narrative or content of the day points at others in harmful ways based on identity or for existing in the first place.” Examples of harm inducing narratives includes “conversion therapy, stories of trans rights creating harm and causing people to become trans, and access to information about trans folks being the reason that someone cites their original transition and their need to detransition is harmful toward the trans community.”

The administrator also shares that should a student detransition, they “give them access to trusted adults” and “shift names and pronouns in our system.” They continue by stating that the district seeks to “ensure that they are supported based on their own individual needs rather than the expectations of others, including family members.”

The district board and administration also discussed how to deal with the request to include Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage in the high school library. A school board member states that “red flags started to wave” after reading the district’s reply to the parent. According to the board member, placing Shrier’s book “‘on an easel atop the shelves in the HS library’ without vetting concerns me greatly.” They further add that they have “read mixed reviews about the book and the author.”

A district administrator added that they “too have great concerns” and that the book “actually goes against our equity policy and can cause harm.”