Pennsylvania high schoolers stage walk out over school board's 'gender neutral' bathroom policy

"Whatever the biological makeup is, use that bathroom, get to your class, the job is done."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Friday, hundreds of students at Perkiomen High School in Pennsylvania staged a walkout to protest the board's decision to allow biological males in female spaces.

The 5-4 ruling handed down on September 11 opened the doors to anyone wishing to use the bathrooms or locker rooms that corresponded not with their sex, but their gender identity.

According to the Delaware Valley Journal, the board voted on the issue after a father, Tim Jagger, voiced his concern on social media. He alleged that his daughter, a student at Perkiomen High School, was afraid to use the bathroom because of the possibility a male could be in there.

The school district told him his daughter could simply use one of the few single-person bathrooms, at which point he took his cause to the board. 

To his surprise, many of the members were not aware of the existing rules, which allegedly stemmed from a 2018 nondiscrimination policy. As DV Journal reports, one board member who was present in 2018 said he was not aware that the policy would allow students to use the bathroom of their choice.

Many of the students who took part in the walkout and their parents said that their opposition to the bathroom policy was not meant to be a dismissal of LGBTQ rights, noting that they simply believed privacy trumped all else.

"Their rights should be addressed but not at the expense of taking away the rights of the non-LGBTQ students," one students' mother explained. "They shouldn’t be asked to give up their right to privacy to accommodate 12 students, especially when the school has three designated bathrooms for these students to use."

During their meeting on Tuesday evening, the school board discussed the issue.

"Members of the community did not realize what was going on, and that's what got everybody together here," board member Jay Cohen said. "We have to get back to normalization, and we have to have something that satisfies the students, the families who are responsible for this community, and it has to satisfy what we're trying to do in our mission statement."

Cohen lamented the fact that many students no longer felt safe using the bathrooms, adding that most had "no idea" where the single-use facilities were.

"I'm old school," he added. "When I went to school there was a door that said boys, and girls, and nobody was there checking people. People knew what they had to do, and they did it, and they got to their classes."

"Whatever the biological makeup is, use that bathroom, get to your class, the job is done. Let's get back to educational issues." 

Cohen also urged the district to apply the same rules to locker rooms, and cautioned against wasting resources on making facilities gender-neutral. His statements garnered applause from those in attendance.

A decision was made to gather feedback from students, staff, and parents, and present the findings during the next meeting on October 17.

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