A Pennsylvania school board voted last week to renew the contract of a male trans-identifying tennis coach after he was accused of changing in the girls’ locker room near students.
The Gettysburg Area School District school board voted 6-2 on Tuesday last week to renew tennis coach David Yates’ contract for the fall season after weeks of controversy, Penn Live reported. One school board member was absent from the vote.
Yates has been the district’s tennis coach, coaching both the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams since 2018. He said he began transitioning from living as male to female in 2021.
A year ago in September, Gettysburg High School principal Jeremy Lusk gave Yates a letter outlining several “concerns” and emphasizing that it is “imperative to maintain professional boundaries,” according to Penn Live.
The letter alleged that Yates had changed near students in the girls’ locker room and that he had discussed undergarment preferences and menstruation with students. Yates claimed he had only removed his top in a discreet corner and said he did not recall asking students those questions.
The school board also received complaints about Yates allegedly using a women’s restroom and walking through the girls locker room on the way to a meeting.
Some of those at the board meeting said the district had since instructed coaches to use single-occupancy changing rooms.
Last Tuesday’s heated school board meeting reportedly drew about 200 people, with parents and other community members speaking for and against Yates, according to Local 21 News.
“I do not want a man dressed as a woman coming into my daughters’ or granddaughters’ locker room or bathroom and traumatizing them,” one resident said.
During the board meeting, school board president Kenneth Hassinger said the issue was not that Yates identifies as transgender, rather, “it was simply the issues that were outlined with the bathroom usage.”
After the board vote to renew Yates’ contract, Hassinger said the “rumors” about Yates “did not have a factual basis to them.”
“Overall I think it came down to widespread rumors that were going on in the public and we wanted to take a deep breath and make sure we had all the information before we took a vote,” Hassinger told PennLive after Tuesday’s board meeting.
Last month, the school board had deadlocked on a vote to keep Yates. The girls’ tennis team ended up starting the season without a coach.
Yates told Penn Live he was “extremely delighted” to continue coaching tennis.
“I have been very moved by the outpouring of support that I have received,” Yates told the outlet. “I am very much looking forward to continuing to support and guide both teams as they represent Gettysburg Area High School in the coming seasons.”
School board member Michelle Smyers, who voted against renewing Yates’ contract, previously warned the district through her lawyers at America First Legal that she is entitled to view all “reprimands” issued to Yates, which she claimed the district denied her.
In recent years, the issue of trans-identifying individuals using the bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex has become a concern for parents across the country. Parents in many school districts have spoken up at school board meetings against biological males in particular sharing such spaces with biological girls.