Her mother could not have been clearer with the school district: her daughter should be called by her given name, and she should be treated like all the other girls.

These instructions were ignored, a reality her mother didn’t know until she read her daughter’s name embroidered on a graduation blanket. The blanket didn’t display her daughter’s real name, but the one school staff had used for years, Jacob Sullivan.

Seven years later, nearing midnight on March 23, 2023, in a committee room at the Texas Capitol, State Rep. Stephanie Klick called Emelie Schmidt to testify.


When she was fourteen, Emelie saw a television show glorifying a trans agenda. She remembered the TLC program claiming that if you were a tomboy girl, you could take steps to become an actual boy.

For the teen going through puberty, deeply self-conscious, and looking for an alternative to what appeared to be an uphill self-image struggle, the show represented a gateway.

Her curiosity was peaked.

After viewing these shows, she went online, specifically to the show’s Facebook pages. Once there, she left a comment. Grown men responded and invited the confused and depressed teenager to private chat rooms to talk about her sexuality.

Once there, the men encouraged Emelie to embrace a trans lifestyle. One user sent her a breast binder. Though she only ever wore it for short amounts of time and suffered no long-term damage, friends she knows who wore them suffered breast tissue and rib damage. Emelie would wear it to school. She’d take it off before her parents came home from work.

She was in a dark part of the internet, where men in their forties post pictures of themselves in lingerie with captions that read, “Oh, I look so much like a woman today.” Things would only get darker.

One man asked Emelie to meet in person to discuss trans. She didn’t take him up on the offer.

Another offered to teach her a bit of amoral alchemy, transforming over-the-counter medication into rough-and-ready testosterone, a concoction called “bathtub hormones.”

Emelie declined that offer as well, this time because she feared how it would interact with the medications she was already taking for her mental health. But she found that this type of activity has exploded in the present day. Now, there’s a whole network of trans adults sending hormones to minors behind their parents’ backs.

She’d come to view these men and their actions as creepy, trying to gain access to children by grooming them.

These were the men who coached Emelie.

They sowed the seeds of distrust and told her that because her parents wouldn’t call her “Jacob” and let her take hormones, they hated her; they wanted her dead.


At the time, Emelie—whose maiden name was Sullivan—believed them, and she said the work of these online predators was reinforced as a policy by the school that she attended: Port Neches-Groves ISD, located in southeast Texas, near Beaumont.

According to Emelie, her teachers were required to call her ‘Jacob’ and use he/him pronouns to affirm her gender identity.

In August 2016, 17-year-old Emelie emailed her teachers at Port Neches-Groves High School. Her email read, “I wanted to let you know that I am trans; I would greatly appreciate it if you called me Jacob and he/him pronouns.”

Two teachers, Jessica Lemoine and Sydney Crosby, replied that they would.

“Hey Jacob, thanks for the heads up. I look forward to having you in class,” Lemoine wrote on August 19, 2016. “Thank you & never hesitate to remind me if I forget,” Crosby wrote on August 18, 2016.

Following these emails, the school called her mother, and a meeting was set up.

Until this time, Emelie had been treated as a special needs student. A June 2016 psychological evaluation of her for PNGISD stated she had ‘outbursts’ and was considered a ‘cutter,’ someone who slits their wrists, an act of self-harm that mimics suicide.

The district tried to bully Emelie’s mother.

The school counselor, according to Emelie, told the concerned parent that the troubled teen was at severe risk if her trans behavior was not embraced and encouraged. According to the school shrink, her mom needed to start calling her ‘Jacob’ at home and use he/him pronouns. If she refused, the teen was going to kill herself.

The mother stood her ground. Yet Emelie said the school went behind her back and referred to her as ‘Jacob’ anyway.

It took several years for Emelie to be ready to reconstruct what had happened during high school, a time she now describes as blurry.

In October 2023, she tried to get answers by requesting records from the Texas Workforce Commission and Port Neches-Groves ISD.

The school would have her behavioral record. Emelie said she believed her counselor was provided to the school by TWC. Their records might be able to confirm if she was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Emelie said the school district and state agency told her they would contact her or call her back, but neither did.

It wasn’t until she partnered with an attorney and an investigative journalist that both entities offered up what records they had maintained from Emelie’s school years.

Included in records from TWC were internal school questionnaires for her teachers, dated March 22, 2017. As they said they would with the emails, Lemoine and Crosby referred to Emelie as “Jacob.” “I enjoy having Jacob in class!” Crosby wrote. “Jacob does very well in art … Jacob is overall very quiet in class and never interrupts or shows any attitude,” Lemoine wrote.

Also included was a June 2016 psychological evaluation of Emelie by Dr. L. Lee Badipour. A portion of that read, “Emelie prefers to be called ‘Jacob’ and that she had emailed her teachers at about the time she turned 16 stating that she had changed her sexual orientation. Some of the teachers do respect her wishes and openly call her by the name Jacob. Other teachers explained that they are impelled to use her legal or birth name.”

When reviewing this portion of the report, Emelie said most teachers referred to her as ‘Jacob’ and used he/him pronouns.

These records from the TWC should have been replicated in the school’s records, but they weren’t.

By the time Emelie’s mother discovered the school district’s subterfuge, her daughter was graduating and having second thoughts about being “trans.”

Source: Emelie Schmidt

With the benefit of hindsight, Emelie now says the school’s actions did not help her. Their affirmations of her gender confusion strengthened her inner demons. The school district hurt Emelie.

Her chest binders caused constant physical pain, a distraction that replaced the wrist slitting she’d previously performed. Rather than deal with underlying issues, she’d swapped one form of self-harm for another.

Emelie’s experience tracks with statistics about self-harm among so-called affirmed gender dysmorphic youth. Dr. Andre Van Mol, co-chair of the American College of Pediatrician’s Committee on Adolescent Sexuality, told Texas Scorecard in November 2022, that “looking at the medical literature here, gender-affirming healthcare is not proven to reduce suicides.”

Furthermore, a 15-year study in the Netherlands published in February 2024 found that the majority of minors with gender dysphoria age out of it when they’re adults.

There was one teacher who refused to play along in “affirming” Emelie. She was on the verge of failing math every year, but one teacher pulled her aside and said, “Hey, I can see that you’re a girl. I don’t think this trans thing is who you really are.”

The year a teacher showed genuine concern for her well-being was the year Emelie passed math with flying colors. All the others went along with the charade. Emelie says they encouraged the delusion.

“I believe they were told by that psychiatrist to call me Jacob and he/him, and that just made my gender delusions worse.”

She gave further details on how it affected her mental health. “It made my depression worse. It made my anxiety skyrocket because I was constantly worried about if I pass[ed] as a guy. I constantly worried that my teachers were going to slip up and call me Emelie. It caused constant anxiety,” she said. “I believe that if they didn’t affirm my delusions that I would have come out of them way sooner.”


In the end, her mother, the woman who had insisted Emelie be called by her name, pulled her from her despair.

In 2016, they went to the beach during the winter finals.

During the hour-long drive, her mother talked with Emelie, and she said that no matter what, she was still a girl. This got through to her, and Emelie started to question everything.

She realized she didn’t have real friends in her life; all her friends were online.

While it took her a little more than a year to come to terms with that day’s realization, she eventually did, and she began the detransitioning process.

Emelie Schmidt is now a happily married woman.

While her mother helped Emelie towards recovery, it was the Port Neches-Groves School District that encouraged her to stay on a road of mental illness and self-destruction. They kept this secret from her mother. Whenever the school called her parents, they would refer to her as Emelie. She was always a tomboy. It was her interactions with the online trans hive that made Emelie believe that being a tomboy meant she was trans. But it didn’t. However, because she’d always been a tomboy, there was nothing obvious for her mother to notice at home, but there was a grand deception going on at school.

Government school districts keeping secrets from parents is nothing new. In 2021, grassroots activist Christin Bentley audited the Tyler High School library. She originally thought they wouldn’t find anything. After all, hers is “a very Christian, very conservative community.” She was wrong. The audit found “hundreds of sexually explicit ‘filthy’ books’” in the school.

Now that Emelie’s recovered from her gender dysphoria and is married and trying to become a mother herself, her experience with PNGISD is taking on a new dimension.

“It makes me want to do more to get involved. It’s just insane how much they’re able to hide from their parents because parents rarely even see their kids. You send them off to school and see [them] for a few hours before bed. And that’s it. These people have complete control over your kid, basically,” she said.

“When I eventually have kids, I’m gonna homeschool them, because I do not trust our school system.”


On the night of March 23, 2023, Emelie stood in front of the lawmakers of the Texas House Public Health Committee and shared her struggle.

“As a preteen, I was riddled with depression and anxiety like most teens are. I also struggled with my body image due to puberty and polycystic ovary syndrome,” Schmidt told committee members. She explained this condition resulted in her having higher testosterone levels, so she didn’t “quite fit in with the other girls.” She told committee members that her depression and anxiety had just started to improve when she discovered “the trans community.”

She also highlighted before the committee that her school furthered her delusions as the principal required all students and teachers to affirm her “gender identity.” Emelie told committee members that at school, “teachers were required to call me ‘Jacob’ and use he/him pronouns.”

None of the committee members ever contacted her about the school district; to her knowledge, no investigation has been conducted.

Texas Scorecard asked the Port Neches-Groves School District and Texas Workforce Commission for comment.

The district chose not to reply.

TWC Press Officer Sarah Fischer wrote “TWC regards each stage of service as confidential. Information about a particular case–including the names of parties involved or its current status–would be protected under this same confidentiality. Therefore, we are unable to provide any comment or additional information on this matter.”

If you or your child had a similar experience with your public school district in Texas, please email rmontoya@texasscorecard.com

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.