Parents, Students Show Up In Force At Heated Pittsburgh Area School Board Meeting On Bathroom Gender Policy

"Are you not invading my daughter's privacy when a man walks into her bathroom?"
Sign for inclusive restroom, with symbol indicating male, female and transgender as well as handicapped symbol, part of LGBT rights initiatives in the Mission District neighborhood of San Francisco, California, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Parents and students crowded into a heated school board meeting in the Pittsburgh area earlier this month to sound off about bathroom use and gender identity.

Controversy erupted in the Hopewell Area School District just west of Pittsburgh this month when a junior high school girl told her parents she thought she saw a boy come into the girls bathroom, the superintendent said at the October 10 board meeting.

Superintendent Jeff Beltz said the girl’s parents called the principal, who verified through video of the incident that the student who had entered the bathroom was a girl, not a boy.

However, angry parents demanded more details.

One mom who showed up demanded answers on whether trans-identifying students are allowed to use the bathroom of the opposite gender.

“I’m asking the board members to confirm for me — do you allow transgenders to share the bathrooms with the other kids, like boys in the girls bathroom, girls in the boys bathroom?” the mom asked.

Beltz responded that “no one’s not using their gender’s bathroom or locker room” to the district’s knowledge, at least in the junior high school.

The district does not currently have its own policy on bathroom use for trans-identifying students.

“Hopewell’s policy is not a policy,” the superintendent said at the board meeting. “The policy is the law. The law is very clear that allows genders to choose the restroom.”

“We are not going to avoid the topic,” Beltz said. “The topic is rooted in law and legal ruling, whether it’s case finding, and we are going to abide by those regardless.”

The superintendent said the district follows Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination by schools.

However, the district is considering adding more alternate bathrooms, Beltz said. The alternate bathrooms currently available are the office bathroom or the nurse’s bathroom.

One father challenged the board members, “Are you not invading my daughter’s privacy when a man walks into her bathroom?”

Another mother raised her concerns about potential bathroom assaults occurring or boys trying to record videos of girls in the restroom.

“The administrators know their students, know if somebody’s being a wise guy … this just doesn’t all of a sudden popped up,” one board member responded.

Gender identity, bathroom use, and parental notification in school policies have become hot-button issues in recent years. Parents across the country have expressed concerns about children being allowed to use the bathrooms of the opposite gender or adopt a new gender identity behind their parents’ backs.

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