At a time in which school districts across the United States are opening up their locker rooms and bathrooms on the basis of gender identity, a Pennsylvania school district in a largely conservative Christian area is bucking the trend with its own solutions.
The Eastern Lancaster County School District board has passed a policy that if implemented would require transgender students to either use single-user restrooms or bathroom and locker rooms that correspond to their “biological sex.”
According to The York Daily Record, the school district with over 3,000 students has dealt with complaints over the last several months after the school board previously allowed a transgender student at Garden Spot High School access to sex-segregated facilities on the basis of the student’s perceived gender identity.
A solution was passed at a board meeting Monday night in which the school district plans to get rid of gendered locker rooms in high schools and replace them with private, single-user, gender-neutral shower and changing stalls that all students can use.
But since the renovation of the locker rooms is expected to cost upwards of $1 million and take time to construct, the school board passed a short-term addendum suggesting that students should, for the time being, use facilities that correspond with their biological sex.
“While the renovation plan for the facilities is being reviewed and executed, we recommend that where ever we cannot provide private single user facilities when changing or using the bathroom facilities, the students are to use the facilities based on their biological sex,” the addendum reads.
"Anywhere within the district that our system has not caught up with the renovations this will be in effect. Any student who wishes additional privacy while changing or using the bathroom facilities will have the ability to use [the] appropriate single user facilities.
As parents and critics of the trans-inclusive bathroom and locker room policies argue that such policies violate the privacy rights of other students, the board members voted 6-2 in favor of the “biological sex” addendum.
The implementation of the addendum, however, will be delayed until after the day after the board meets again in May to give the opportunity to make changes to the policy.
Some cases are brought forward by students barred from accessing a particular facility based on their gender identity while others are brought by students who object to policies allowing trans-identified students access to locker rooms that correspond with the opposite biological sex.
Glenn Yoder, Eastern Lancaster County school board president, told Lancaster Online that he feels the new policy is designed to “protect all students’ rights and interests.”
Stu Martin, a father of two children in the district, said that he opposes a policy allowing trans-identified students to access facilities on the basis of their gender identity.
He noted that the area in which he lives and grew up in is an “extremely conservative, Christian community.” Martin told Lancaster Online that he fears LGBT activists are “bullying” the school board to enact their favored policies.
With state and national left-leaning civil rights groups pushing for open bathroom and locker room access for transgender students in school districts nationwide, Martin feels like the battle over bathrooms and locker rooms is “a clash of civilizations.”
“This feels like we’re being forced into complying into a belief system,” Martin told The York Daily Recorder.
While federal courts have tended to rule in favor of transgender students in their lawsuits against school districts, the Supreme Court has yet to officially weigh in on the matter.
In 2017, it had the opportunity to take on the case of a Virginia transgender student suing his school for access to locker rooms on the basis of gender identity. However, the Supreme Court remanded that case back to the lower court.
Last November, students in the Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. They asked the nation’s top court to overturn their school district’s policy allowing transgender students to access bathrooms and locker rooms on the basis of their gender identity. The Supreme Court has yet to say whether it will take up the case.