Following weeks of heated debate, a Philadelphia area school district revisited a decision on gender-specific bathrooms after hundreds of students staged a walkout.
With signs declaring “Respect girls’ rights” and “Stay in your bathroom,” about 400 Perkiomen High School students protested recently to voice their anger over the school board’s decision to reject a policy that would have required students to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex. The 5-4 vote on Sept. 11 sparked an uproar as students and parents alike expressed dissatisfaction with the district’s decision to allow boys who identify as female to use girls’ restrooms.
On Monday, after one member of the board reportedly changed his mind on the issue, the Perkiomen Valley School District voted 5-4 to change the policy which now requires students to use bathrooms “based on their sex,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
VICTORY Perkiomen Valley Schools in Pennsylvania, where our endorsed candidates won a majority last year, officially passed a policy banning boys from using the girl’s bathroom. Students at the high school walked out of class a few weeks ago when the board failed to… pic.twitter.com/hBthqbfDL7 — Zeno Calhoun (@zenoc_oshits) October 3, 2023
The initial backlash over the hot-button issue was sparked when parents and some school board members objected to the transgender policy that was evidently already in place. That came to light when the father of a student at the school shared that his daughter was too fearful to use the bathroom because she was afraid that a boy had been in the restroom with her.
The parent, Tim Jagger, “contacted district officials who indicated they permitted students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity and said his 14-year-old freshman daughter could use a single-person restroom if she wanted,” the Delaware Valley Journal reported. “Jagger was surprised by that and posted about it on Facebook. Others saw his post and were also surprised. He then went to a meeting and asked the school board about it. Several members said they had no idea it was happening.”
“There is zero reason for someone with male genitalia to be in the girls’ facilities,” Jagger told the school board last month. “It’s a simple matter of biology, safety, personal space.”
Hundreds of students staged a protest last month.
️Pennsylvania students at Perkiomen Valley School District stage a walkout to protest bathroom policies that allow males in female restrooms. ️Victoria Rudolph, a student at the school told the media that by allowing biological males to enter the girls restroom it makes… pic.twitter.com/mbk3XqYOHp — The Constitutional Conservative (@TheCCShowcast) September 20, 2023
Don Fountain, a member of the board for the district in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania voted in September against the proposed policy that would have made students use restrooms based on “biological sex.” But this week, he changed his mind.
“But on Monday, the board instead put forward a policy similar to its original proposal — with Fountain’s agreement. Board members said the updated version would limit multi-user facilities based on sex, but allow for more single-use restrooms to be available to any student, including restrooms previously restricted to staff members,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Advocates for LGBTQ students say that restricting any access to multi-user restrooms is discriminatory, because it doesn’t allow transgender students the same access as their peers,” the outlet added.
Fountain, however, believes that “A lot of the students would be able to benefit from this, probably better than any other compromise we could come up with.”
Superintendent Barbara Russell reportedly did not believe a new policy was even needed but, according to the news outlet, she indicated that “administrators had been communicating with counselors Tuesday to support transgender students,” noting that about 1% of the school’s 1,700 students identify as transgender.
“For some, it’s not a big deal — they’ve been using single-user facilities,” she said. “For others, it will be a change.”