EXCLUSIVE — A Virginia mother is suing her local school district in federal court, saying staff there secretly transitioned her daughter, putting her in such dangerous situations that she ran away only to be kidnapped and sex-trafficked.
Michele Blair, mother of Sage, filed a lawsuit against the Appomattox County School Board and district staff, as well as Baltimore, Maryland, area public defender Aneesa Khan, who is accused in the lawsuit of conducting a “series of acts aimed at depriving Mrs. Blair of custody of her daughter and keeping [Sage] in Maryland to be affirmed in a male identity.”
“They stole my right to protect my daughter,” Blair told the Washington Examiner. “I’m the parent, I am an expert on my child, there is nobody in the school or court system that knows my daughter better than me. They will never know my daughter better than I do.”
Blair said her daughter was severely bullied in school, but alleges that the school district withheld information as to why that was happening: the fact that Sage was identifying as a boy in school.
“It was verbal, physical, sexually harassed with constant threats of rape by the male classmates,” she said of her daughter’s 2021 freshman year at Appomattox County High School. “Despite this, the school encouraged her to use the boys’ bathroom.”
Sage had a history of mental health issues including depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and hallucinations, and Blair informed the school of it prior to any of the incidents. However, the school pursued a social transition for Sage behind the back of her parents, the lawsuit filed by the Child & Parent Rights Campaign alleges.
Withholding the information on Sage’s stated gender identity in school “deprived” Blair of being able to “exercise her fundamental parental rights to direct the upbringing of her daughter, including making educational and mental health decisions,” according to the lawsuit.
Vernadette Broyles, Blair’s attorney from the CPRC, told the Washington Examiner that Sage ran away from home due to severe bullying and harassment at school.
“The school officials were encouraging her to use the boys’ bathroom, even though they knew she was being threatened with sexual assault, so she perceived herself that she wasn’t safe and she runs away from home,” Broyles said. “She runs into the arms of a waiting pedophile, who encounters her, rapes her, traffics her with two other men, and takes her across state lines into Washington, D.C., and then ultimately into Maryland.”
Broyles explained that the “nightmare should have ended” in Maryland, when Sage was eventually rescued by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, but the Baltimore juvenile court system took custody of the young girl at the behest of Khan.
Khan concluded that the Blairs were not “sufficiently affirming” of her new identity, and “concocts a fabricated story of abuse and neglect by the parents and convinces a judge to keep this child in custody,” Broyles said.
While in custody, Sage was put into a juvenile facility for adolescent males “where she was again sexually assaulted, exposed to drugs, and denied medical and mental health care,” the lawsuit states.
“This is a 100-pound girl, what do you think happens in this facility?” Broyles said.
Natasha M. Dartigue, Maryland’s top public defender, told the Washington Examiner, “We fully support our attorney, who appropriately represented her client in accordance with her legal, ethical, and professional obligations.”
Sage, again in fear for her safety, ran away from the facility and was again found by another pedophile who brought her to Texas “where she was again raped, drugged, starved, and tortured until law enforcement in Texas rescued her and notified her mother who returned her to Virginia,” the lawsuit states.
Because of her experiences, Sage has “undergone intensive in-patient and outpatient therapy to address the multiple incidents of extreme trauma caused by Defendants’ acts and omissions.” She has also been diagnosed with complex PTSD.
What happened to Sage is a result of a “systematic failure” that can be “remedied when ideologically driven school officials are forced to recognize it is not within their competency, their authority to be transitioning a child without the direct involvement of their parents, period,” Broyles said. “It is frankly just cruel and irresponsible for school officials to be encouraging confusion, gender confusion in particularly traumatized young girls with histories of mental health.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has been vocal about Sage’s case, and recently implemented new guidance in the Old Dominion State that would mitigate some of the policies that led to Sage’s experience.
“Sage’s tragic story demonstrates the importance of parental involvement,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter told the Washington Examiner. “For Sage and students, parents and teachers across the Commonwealth, the governor will continue to empower parents and ensure the privacy, dignity, and respect of all students with the model policies.”
The school district did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
Blair said Sage “doesn’t remember a lot of it because of the trauma.”
“I just wanted to have friends,” Sage tells Blair. “So we take it a day at a time. And you know what, I’m looking forward to a brighter future for her,” Blair said.
Her PTSD will be challenging, but “that doesn’t mean she won’t have a happy life, but she will always struggle with flashbacks of horrible, horrible memories. But I will just love her through them all,” Blair said.