About 400 students marched out of Perkiomen High School on Friday to protest a school board vote allowing boys to use girls’ restrooms if they identify as female.
The board voted 5-4 on Sept. 11 against a policy requiring boys and girls to use the bathrooms of their biological sex.
One Republican school board member, Don Fountain, voted with the Democrats against the measure, which first arose after a father posted on social media that his daughter believed a boy was in the girls’ bathroom, and she was afraid to use it.
The father, Tim Jagger, told DVJournal, “So after a couple of days, I asked her if she noticed anything else, and she said that she just wasn’t using the bathrooms there anymore, so she doesn’t know.”
Jagger then contacted district officials who indicated they permitted students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity and said his 14-year-old freshman daughter could use a single-person restroom if she wanted.
Jagger was surprised by that and posted about it on Facebook. Others saw his post and were also surprised. He then went to a meeting and asked the school board about it. Several members said they had no idea it was happening.
The administrators said it was due to a nondiscrimination policy that the board passed in 2018, said Jagger. But the one remaining board member who had been on the board in 2018 said he did not know the bathroom matter would be part of that policy when gender identity was added as a nondiscrimination category.
Senior Brandon Corner, 17, was among the students who walked out to protest the policy.
Corner said that while he does not oppose rights for transgender students, he believes other students also have rights. He does not feel comfortable with a person of the opposite sex who identifies as a male using a bathroom with him. He said there were already private one-person restrooms in the school that they could use.
During the walkout, he approached Superintendent Barbara Russell Ed.D. for answers but did not believe he got any.
“She didn’t answer any questions. For example, when I asked her to define what a transgender person is,” he said. And also, “What’s in place to protect the non-transgender people?”
“What if a person with the wrong intention decides they want to use the bathroom for the wrong intention?” he said, alluding to a 2021 incident in Loudon County, Va., where a teenage boy sexually assaulted girls in two different schools in girls’ restrooms and the district allegedly covered up the first incident.
Asked if he believes the students accomplished what they wanted with their walkout, he said, “We wanted to get the media involved.”
His mother, Melanie Corner, said, “Nothing’s been accomplished yet. We have our (policy committee) meeting tomorrow night.”
Brandon Corner said he intended to speak to the school board policy committee.
“The LGBTQ rights should not infringe on our privacy rights,” he said.
Melanie Corner said they are not against LGBTQ students.
“Their rights should be addressed but not at the expense of taking away the rights of the non-LGBTQ students,” she said. “They shouldn’t be asked to give up their right to privacy to accommodate 12 students, especially when the school has three designated bathrooms for these students to use.”
The policy committee is scheduled to meet on Sept. 19 at 6:00 p.m. in the Perkiomen Valley High School Media Center/Library.
Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal