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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
A local parent who is upset about the transgender person bathroom policy at Selinsgrove school district is calling for students to boycott what she calls “shared bathrooms.”
“We are telling students to stop compromising their right to privacy by using these shared facilities, and instead, use only private single-user bathrooms,” said parent Jody Muncer.
There is a private single use bathroom available near the nurses office. It is unknown how many students might participate in the boycott of the primary bathrooms or when the bathroom boycott could begin.
The issue of transgender people using bathrooms of the gender for which they identify became a big issue in Selinsgrove earlier this year after a letter was sent home to parents telling them there was a change in policy that would allow transgender students to use either bathroom.
As a result, Jody Muncer started a petition asking the school to change it’s policy back to how it used to be. The petition was signed by hundreds of people. Because the policy did not change, Muncer decided to change tactics.
“We are asking that the school board respects privacy for every student. Regardless of individual interests, they cannot violate people’s privacy,” Muncer told the Orange Street News.
“Privacy is a right that everyone should have,” added Muncer.
Since last fall, bathrooms have become a heated issue in Selinsgrove.
In November, Nearly one hundred people gathered at the Selinsgrove Middle School to voice their opinions about whether transgender people should be able to go into the boys or girls bathrooms at Selinsgrove schools. The room included many people who were both for and against the a new policy that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom they identify with.
“It seems like the change has been you are putting the comfort of a few over the comfort of a larger number of kids,” one former Selinsgrove elementary school employee told the board.
That speaker believed that the previous rule allowing transgendered people to use the private bathroom located by the nurses office provided everyone a safe place. But that the new policy makes most students uncomfortable, according to the woman.
“Comfort and safety can be two different things. and I believe that (transgender people) can be comfortable if they have a bathroom that they know you can use any time and any place. In changing the place, you have given a the majority a place where they are no longer comfortable.”
The board said that it has three transgender students in the Selinsgrove School district.
But a parent of a transgender student contested the idea that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice should make any one uncomfortable.
“This practice that Selinsgrove has now implemented is used by hundreds and hundreds of schools, without incident and without difficulty,” the father told the board.
Alexa Wolfe, who identified herself as a transgendered woman, became emotional when speaking at the meeting about the issue.
“My biggest concern tonight is that there are a lot of concerned parents out there who somehow believe in this myth that transgender people are somehow sexual deviants because of the restrooms or locker rooms that we use, but I want everyone to simply ask themselves what evidence is there towards that notion? When was the last time we heard a news story about a transgendered person attacking somebody in the bathroom for whatever reason. I don’t remember that at all. But, on the other side of things, there are statistics that show…transgendered people are more likely to be attacked or assaulted in the restroom.”
In December, Solicitor Carl Beard, who gave information to the board about the policy, was fired for what the board said was inaccurate information, according to a local media report.
“They didn’t like what I told them. I told them they needed to accommodate transgender students. They didn’t like it,’’ Carl Beard told the Orange Street News in an exclusive interview.
Beard told the OSN that accommodating transgender students was something that both the PA Board and National Board both urged school boards to do. By advising the school of this, he was only doing his job as Solicitor, says Beard.
But Selinsgrove Board Members say they fired Beard for giving inaccurate information: that the school could lose Title 9 funding, according to a report in a local paper.
However, Beard says it is the Selinsgrove School Board is the one being inaccurate. Beard says he never told the board they were in danger of losing Title 9 funding.
Selinsgrove Superintendent Chad Cohrs was not immediately available for comment.
In December, the school put out a statement on their website about the policy.