SELINSGROVE -- A school district in Snyder County is taking the heat over a controversial decision to allow transgender students use the bathroom of their choosing.
The Selinsgrove Area School District implemented that at the start of the school year but didn’t tell parents until after classes had begun.
Tempers flared at Selinsgrove Area School Board meeting Monday night after parents learned about a controversial decision to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they associate with.
The district began using the practice at the start of the school year but didn't inform parents until after classes had begun.
“What prompted the letter to be sent home on October 17?” asked parent Polly Welch. “What situation arose that suddenly made it necessary to inform the parents within this district that you had enacted this policy behind their backs?”
The board meeting follows a public forum the board held last week to discuss this issue and it's clear parents still had plenty to say.
“You've betrayed and lost our trust as parents by implementing a policy directly compromising all of our children's paramount right to privacy,” said parent Ray Grover.
However, the board explained that allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice is not official school policy.
The superintendent says the district decided just to implement this practice based on its interpretation of federal guidelines under Title IX from both the Departments of Justice and Education as well as on advice from a lawyer.
“The basis of Title IX also includes what is called gender identity so the interpretation says that school districts cannot discriminate based on their gender identity,” said Superintendent Chad Cohrs.
While most speakers were overwhelmingly against what the district is doing, there are some who support it, including two transgender women who spoke at the meeting and two seniors who came to the meeting.
“I think that these kids are just trying to use a bathroom and the parents who are against it are seeing it as a right to privacy and not a trans issue but it affects the trans community,” said senior Jonah Roth.
School officials say the decision to do this came from both the potential loss of federal funding and the possibility of opening the district up to a discrimination lawsuit.