After Scandal, Schools Use ‘Witch’ to Address LGBT Issues
After a scandal that rocked the northern Colorado community involving the Poudre School District promoting transgenderism to children and encouraging them to hide it from parents, staff doubled down by enlisting a transgender self-proclaimed “witch” to carry on the work.
Parents, staff, and community leaders who spoke with The Epoch Times expressed sentiments ranging from serious concern to outrage over what they described as dangerous and inappropriate indoctrination.
As part of what district officials refer to as efforts to be “inclusive” of those with different sexual orientations and gender identities, a broad range of LGBT programs are offered, and even mandated, for both students and teachers.
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One of the key individuals involved in the programming is Silen Wellington, whose formal title is LGBTQ coordinator for the Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County. The Alliance is promoted by the district as a “resource” on mental health, suicide, LGBT issues, and more.
This is part of a broader national trend in which “suicide” and “mental health” programming are being used to promote LGBT ideas and even the occult, experts and education leaders told The Epoch Times.
Wellington, a transgender individual who uses pronouns “they/them” online, is relied upon by the district to train staff, talk with students, and even re-educate employees who are unwilling to encourage or discuss LGBT ideas in the classroom, documents show.
An investigation by The Epoch Times into Wellington’s background reveals that LGBT issues are just one of many interests. Others include Tarot Card reading, rituals involving the use of blood, polyamorous relationships, the casting of “spells,” and even teaching “witchcraft” and “magical activism,” public social-media posts and her own website reveal. She regularly describes herself online as a “witch.”
On her website’s “Work With Me” page, for example, Wellington advertises her services as a witch.
“Less advertised, but deeply important to me, I am a practiced witch and actively priestex [non-binary term for priest or priestess] in the Reclaiming Tradition,” Wellington said, referring to a feminist neopagan branch of witchcraft. “I aim to root all of my work in communion with the wisdom of the body.”
Wellington also boasts of being able to integrate the teachings into secular contexts.
“Writing & guiding trance, facilitating rituals of celebration or release, getting the whole room to sing – are all well within my wheelhouse,” Wellington’s website continues. “While I learn these skills from my generous witch mentors over the years, I can easily integrate mindful body awareness, meditation, intention, and more into my facilitation style in secular ways.”
The Alliance for Suicide Prevention did not respond to multiple emails and voice messages requesting comment.
Wellington did not respond to requests made through email, phone, or a contact form on her personal website either.
Wellington in the Schools
The Epoch Times reviewed hundreds of pages of emails obtained under open-records laws and found that Wellington is deeply intertwined with the Poudre School District.
Among other tasks, Wellington offers “professional development” for staff, including the notion that legally, school staff should refuse to share information about children’s gender identity with parents if the child requests it.
Wellington also works closely with school staff to help establish “Genders & Sexualities Alliance” (GSA) clubs—sometimes under different names such as “Spectrum Club”—for students. These clubs encourage homosexuality, transgenderism, and more.
Wellington lectures on LGBT topics to children through the clubs, too. “Some things I’ve supported before,” Wellington said in an Aug. 26, 2021, email to two adult GSA Club leaders in the district, include, “being a guest at a GSA meeting.”
She offered to lecture the children on topics such as “coming out,” “processing more trans/gender specific things,” “the history of LGBTQ+ activism, LGBTQ+ poetry,” and more.
Last summer, The Epoch Times reported on how the “health equity” coordinator for Larimer County, Kimberly Chambers, spoke to Erin Lee’s then-12-year-old daughter about being “transgender” during what was supposed to be an afterschool “art club.” In reality, it was a GSA meeting.
The young girl was told she may be “queer” if she was not sexually attracted to anyone, and that not feeling fully comfortable in her body meant she was “transgender,” she told her mother.
Even more alarming to her parents, the girl was told that home was not a “safe place” and that she should conceal this from her family. Instead, Chambers offered the children her own cell number.
Outraged after being told what had happened by their daughter, Lee and her husband enrolled the girl in a Christian school instead.
And they were not alone.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear other families’ pain from the deceptive actions of their public school district,” Lee, the mother, told The Epoch Times.
“I hope more parents will feel empowered to tell their story and to fight back when the public school hurts their child,” she continued. “I hope other parents protect their children by removing them from public schools. They aren’t safe. You either sacrifice now, or you sacrifice later.”
But pulling out of the school was not the end of the saga for Lee and her family.
Communications obtained by The Epoch Times revealed that district employees discussed reporting the family to child-welfare authorities for investigation.
School officials would not comment on whether the district considers a lack of transgender affirmation by parents to be child abuse.
The incident rocked the community and became a national scandal after The Epoch Times’ reporting and later interviews of Lee on Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, and other popular TV programs with millions of viewers.
In the wake of the scandal, Chambers, a key individual involved, supposedly no longer works directly with the school district, though she serves on the “Comprehensive Sex Ed Alliance” with Wellington and the district’s LGBT coordinator.
But the issues have only grown since then, multiple sources told The Epoch Times.
Wellington, who also serves as a volunteer at Chambers’s organization, is continuing Chambers’s work with the GSA clubs.
Going by the name Charlie Wellington at the time, she was copied on the district emails involving the scandal last summer.
Wellington was also invited into the GSA club meeting at which Lee’s young daughter was traumatized by transgender messaging, emails show.
“My child was lured into a secret meeting with Silen, the transgender, kink-sex blogging blood witch,” Lee explained. “And she was encouraged by her art teacher to connect on Discord with her/him/them. It makes me sick to my stomach.”
Since sharing her family’s ordeal last year, many other families “were able to connect the dots and realize their children were also being indoctrinated, groomed and abused by [Poudre School District],” continued Lee, who blasted officials for attacking her publicly amid the scandal last year.
Lee also said she discovered that at least three other 12-year-old girls in the “art club” became suicidal, just as her own daughter did, following the experience.
“Many families have been lied to and deceived by this district,” Lee said, adding that even parents of elementary children were lied to as district officials “transitioned” their children to new genders.
Another key individual working with Wellington and Chambers is Rowdy LeMasters, who uses the pronoun “they” and has posted numerous photos on social media wearing tight-fitting and sexually suggestive leather outfits while sporting sharpened teeth and even horns on his head. He regularly posts images involving witchcraft as well.
LeMasters serves as the co-president of Chambers’s group and has worked with Wellington to host local LGBT events about suicide where participants are offered $20 Amazon gift cards to attend.
Former Nurse Speaks Out
Parents, current and former staff, and local community leaders who spoke with The Epoch Times expressed deep concerns about what is going on in the Poudre School District and beyond. Some spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by district officials.
Among other concerns, the Poudre School District, like countless others across Colorado and beyond, has become increasingly aggressive in forcing its views about LGBT issues on all employees and even children, critics said.
One nurse who objected to it, Laurie Wertzbaugher, told The Epoch Times she was glad to have retired last summer.
“I’m glad I left, because there is no way I could not take part in this,” she said. “The district is starting to go down the tubes in terms of the whole transgender issue and keeping things from parents.”
The “growth and development” curriculum that she taught for years has now incorporated transgenderism, even in the primary grades, Wertzbaugher said.
“It’s so disheartening to me, it’s so wrong, especially in our public schools,” she said, noting that she refused to teach it even before leaving her job.
The district was also urging staff not to be transparent with parents. “If kids were 12 years or older they could get these transgender drugs and we couldn’t even tell the parents if we knew,” she said. “They told us to hide things from parents—not be honest with them—on this topic. That is so wrong.”
School staff members were also “told that parents were not a safe place, that family is not a safe place, which is just crazy,” Wertzbaugher continued. “They told us that children decide, not parents, and that we should lie to parents.”
The district even hired an “LGBT coordinator” to ensure that “children’s rights were honored,” she added.
Staff members are also instructed that “misgendering” somebody—referring to a biological male or female using traditional pronouns instead of those selected by the child—will involve “disciplinary action,” the retired nurse said.
“I can’t for the life of me understand it,” she said, noting that she cried when she heard Lee’s husband speak at the school board about what happened with his daughter.
A current district employee who spoke to The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation confirmed Wertzbaugher’s observations.
In an emailed statement, Madeline Noblett, the chief communications officer for the district, said that since The Epoch Times’ last report in May of 2022, guidelines had been revised to promote transparency.
In fact, parents may now request forms where children provide alternate names and pronouns to be used at school, Noblett said, pointing to the district’s guidelines and policies online.
“As a district, we respect students’ right to privacy but will not lie to parents,” she said.
“[Poudre School District] is proud to be a district that continuously strives to better include and support LGBTQIA+ students, families, staff, and community,” Noblett continued. “It is the legal responsibility of each school and district to ensure that transgender and non-binary students have access to an educational environment (school, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) that is free from discrimination based on their gender identity or gender expression.”
The Bigger Picture
Retired pastor John Meyer, who lives in the area, began pastoring in Fort Collins in the 1980s. He expressed alarm at the changes.
“What concerns me the most is that there are both legal boundaries that don’t allow parents to know what’s going on but there is also a real proactive effort, it seems like, to encourage students to not have their parents be involved, or not have their parents know,” he told The Epoch Times. “This lack of transparency—the view that parents are a problem in the wellbeing of their children—that’s the hardest for me.”
When he moved to Fort Collins decades ago, it was a “very family-oriented community,” Meyer said. “That was the heart of Fort Collins.”
“I think that value is still there, but I don’t think parents have been involved in the way that they needed to be,” he added.
“What has been going on does not represent the Fort Collins that I know,” Meyer said, noting that schools were once “very locally directed” and an “expression of the local community.”
“From a Christian perspective, parents are responsible for—and will make the biggest investments in—their children,” Meyer added. “They are the ones who should be responsible, and certainly knowledgeable, over every significant shaping force in their kids’ lives.”
A positive development, though, is “a growing awareness in the Christian community,” the former pastor said.
“These things do not reflect the values of our community, and I think as awareness grows, the district will be under more and more pressure to explain how that happened,” he said.
The Poudre district is hardly unique in Colorado. Lori Gimelshteyn, founder of the Colorado Parents Advocacy Network, told The Epoch Times that this sort of abuse was the norm across the state.
In the Cherry Creek School District, where she lives, an email to middle school teachers urged them to use whatever names and pronouns children ask for—and to hide it from parents if asked by the child.
Using open-records laws, Gimelshteyn obtained a “confidential” Gender Support Plan and Gender Transition Plan form for children. The documents allow children to change genders at school as staff conceals it from parents.
Even children are being encouraged to lie to parents to “protect” other children who may be dressing or identifying as the opposite sex at school, she said.
Gimelshteyn’s own 6th-grade daughter, aged 11, experienced this as one of her friends “transitioned” to a new gender behind their parents’ back. That is how Gimelshteyn got involved in this fight in the first place.
As the surveys, mental-health schemes, and gender programming proliferate, Gimelshteyn said these programs will increasingly risk even young children being put on cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and more without parental notification.
“Activist teachers are even encouraging these children to explore their sexuality and experiment with homosexuality,” she added, noting that she personally knew of several.
The schools are also racializing everything, teaching white children that they are “oppressors” and minority children that they are “oppressed,” the concerned mother continued.
School officials are being forced to “commit” to “interrupting whiteness,” she said.
Her own son was “indoctrinated” to believe in these ideas, and it took a great deal of pain and effort to “deprogram” him. “It was awful,” she said. “It was a really difficult time for our family.”
“This is happening all over Colorado,” she added. “We have reports from all four corners of the state.”
Much of it is coming from the two major teachers’ unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said Gimelshteyn.
One key goal is to undermine the family, she argued.
“They are driving a wedge between children and their parents under the guise of mental health, social-emotional health, and suicide prevention,” she said, pointing to state laws allowing children to access all sorts of “services” without parental consent starting at age 12.
A key concern she expressed was that schools were designating and training “safe adults” for children in the schools, the implication being that parents are not safe.
“I see this as a strategic method of dividing children and their parents,” said Gimelshteyn. “With the legislation we’re seeing passed in Colorado, we see the state is really trying to take over the role of parent.”
“The LGBTQ work is a strategy, not an end goal,” she continued. “The end goal is, in my opinion, communism, separating children from their parents, and having state control.”
“This is the biggest national security threat to America,” she added. “It’s America’s march to communism.”
Despite the horror, she has “a lot of hope” as parents are beginning to realize what is happening. “Our culture is shifting,” she said.
As The Epoch Times reported just a few weeks ago, there has been a massive exodus from public schools in recent years.
Multiple sources from the region and experts who spoke with The Epoch Times said they expect that trend to continue as long as these issues are not dealt with in a way that satisfies parents.
Article posted with permission from Alex Newman