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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
Tensions were high last night at the Selinsgrove School Board Meeting as angry parents and members of the community showed up to express their views on transgender people using bathrooms.
More than sixty people showed up at the Selinsgrove Middle School to voice their opinions, with nearly all of the speakers upset about a letter they received that said transgender people would be able to go into the boys or girls bathrooms. The board said that it has three transgender students in the district.
“My daughter said she never wants to use the school bathroom again,” one woman told the school board.
“You are taking away that safe zone,” another added.
But Roger W Sheesley, who agreed to represent the board, pleaded with the angry parents that the board was just trying to follow the rules set up by the Federal Government.
“The board did not make this policy or vote on it. Title 9 is what changed, not our position,” Sheesley told the board. “You can be upset about that but that is where this came from. This is what our administration was acting on. As a result of not following Title 9 we could lose funding.”
Sheesley added that lawsuits from private organizations are even a greater threat to us “than anything the government can do.”
Parents were not satisfied with Sheesley’s explanation.
“This is not about discriminating against transgenders. This is about our right to privacy,” one angry woman said.
“You are literally putting hundreds of kids at risk,” another parent said.
“I’m asking the board to roll this back,” another woman shouted.
“You have put the rest of our children at risk,” another parent told the school board.
Sheesley said he understood why they were upset, but that by sending the letter the school was just doing what they were told.
“We are in a no -win position,” Sheesley countered. “We didn’t create this position.”
Sheesley also admitted that mistakes were made when the school notified parents by a letter that all bathrooms are now open to transgender people.
“We haven’t responded the way we should have but we responded the way the higher-ups told us to respond,” he said.
Still, parents were not satisfied.
“You rolled this out incognito and lost our trust. And I’m just speaking from a good ole boys standpoint, but please, lets establish trust,” said one parent.
“Our children were put at risk by a decision that was made by our administration,” another parent added.
Sheelsey assured all parents that despite the letter the policy will be reviewed and nothing is final.
A public forum will be held on Wednesday November 30th at 7pm the Selinsgrove Middle School Auditorium. After the meeting the board will talk to lawyers then vote on a policy.
“Let it come down to a vote and let the chips fall where they may,” said Sheesley.