Parents and students around the Delaware Valley and across the country could get whiplash from school boards that have flipped from Republican to Democrat, promptly rescinding their predecessors’ policies.

The latest example is the Perkiomen Valley School Board, which voted Monday to retire policy 720, a policy that required students to use restrooms and locker rooms of their biological sex.

Last September, about 400 students walked out of Perkiomen High School to protest a September 2023 board’s vote allowing boys to use girls’ bathrooms if they identify as female.

A father had discovered that district officials had a policy of allowing self-declared transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice after his daughter told him there was a boy in the girls’ restroom. He was surprised and posted about it on Facebook. Several school board members were also shocked.

By October, the board reversed itself and voted for Policy 720 to require students to use restrooms based on their biological sex. Any student could use single-use restrooms.

In November, Democrats won five PV seats, switching control of the board. Monday, pleas from students and community members fell on deaf ears as the board voted to allow transgender students to use the restrooms of their choice. Several parents of transgender students spoke in favor of the change.

Allison Kotsay  Skippack said, “You’re all here because you say you care about children in this district. Prove it. You’ve heard over and over again from many of us on the lack of common sense and logic you display here with the bathroom policy.  Here is a reminder of a few important facts: less than 0.6 percent of the population actually has gender dysmorphia. Do you know what that means? It means you’re willing to turn the majority of children’s lives upside down for less than 0.6 of the population for a TikTok trend.”

Flanked by her daughter and some other teenage girls, Shelly Burke of Perkiomen said, “I’m here tonight to show my daughter and her friends that you stand up and fight for what’s right. You don’t comply.  You don’t sit back for the minority to just run you over. These girls are terrified to speak. They’ve got nervous giddy laughs…I just want you to know this policy does affect biological males and females.   It’s not saying we don’t have compassion for the LGBTQ   community. We absolutely do… I do this for my daughter. They don’t feel comfortable with this…At the last meeting, I was screamed at and yelled at and called a bigot because I want to protect my daughter’s rights. This is the truth. These girls are affected by this policy…These are genuine biological girls here that don’t feel comfortable with this.”

Board Member Jason Saylor, the former president, sparred with current board President Laura White, with White saying the issue is students’ behavior and Saylor saying it was discrimination.

Saylor noted that the new policy would discriminate against students, including Muslim girls, who cannot use a restroom with a male in it for religous reasons. He noted that students are already leaving PV for private schools.

“If some of our students would go out of their way to be nefarious or to create harm or unsafe environments for other students, that needs to be addressed,” said White. “Wholeheartedly. Full stop. Zero tolerance…If we need to get down to the core root of something and the core root of it is behavioral, regardless of who, what, where, whatever the infraction is, gay, straight, trans, that’s irrelevant. If there are actors, if there are students in our building, who are unwilling or unable to follow the protocol and the expectations put in place by our school district, then that needs to be addressed.”

Saylor said, “I can tell you, and I’ve said it before in public. In my two years as board president, I multiple times asked the administration how they would handle this situation and multiple times, I was lied to. I was told they did X when they found out they did Y.  That’s why I put forth policy 720.”

He noted that the district faced many more Title IX complaints than the two that were previously reported.

Board Member Rowan Keenan said, “When I voted for the first time to protect women’s spaces, in the last two years, it was the only time that I was thanked for my service by anybody, or contacted or reached out…two young girls came to my office after I voted to keep men out of their bathrooms, and they thanked me.  And they thanked me for looking out for them.”

“What transpired at the Perkiomen Valley School District last night showed that common sense has left the building,” said Vicki Flannery, chair of the Montgomery County Chapter of Moms for Liberty. “We must try to regain normalcy not just in PVSD but all of Montgomery County. Parents throughout the county need to continue to be a voice for protecting the future of all children, not just some.”

The group thanked Saylor, Keenan and Board Member Don Fountain “for their unwavering commitment to the children, families, and the future of Perkiomen Valley School District.”

The district includes Lower Frederick, Skippack, Perkiomen, Collegeville, Trappe and Schwenksville.

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