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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
Students who don’t feel comfortable sharing the bathroom with transgender people have been told they can use the private restrooms, according to a letter sent by Selinsgrove Superintendent Chad Cohrs obtained by the Orange Street News.
The letter, which was sent in January in response to parents who signed a petition saying they were upset with the new policy, read: “As per your request, below is a listing of the private(single user) restrooms that are available in each school building. The building principal will show your child(ren) where these are located in the building they are enrolled in. Please note that the district will not govern which restrooms your child(ren) utilize, please inform your child(ren) of your desire.”
However, a parent, who asked to remain anonymous because of high passions over the issue, said that asking “hundreds” of students to use the small private bathrooms doesn’t make sense.
“It (the letter) says that basically if we feel our kids privacy was being violated by the new policy then our kids could use the private bathrooms, the very same bathrooms that were originally designated for the transgender students and later deemed not good enough is now conveniently good enough for our kids. Makes no sense.”
The Selinsgrove School board had earlier said that they were simply following federal guidelines when they changed the policy to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
Last month the Trump administration announced it would withdraw President Obama guidelines that schools must allow transgender students to use any bathroom they want to use. President Trump’s guidelines state that local schools are allowed to decide the issue themselves. But Selinsgrove says there will be no change in policy, at least for now.
“The district will continue to study information as it becomes available as well as wait to see what the Supreme Court decides on the issue,” Selinsgrove Superintendent Chad Cohrs told the Orange Street News in an email.
The board said that it has three transgender students in the Selinsgrove School district at a public hearing on the issue in November.
At the same meeting, many parents spoke out in support of the previous rule allowing transgendered people to use the private bathroom located by the nurses office.
“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,” said one speaker.
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.