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Midterm Election Dominated DVJournal’s 2022 Coverage

Looking back at 2022, the most significant stories the Delaware Valley Journal covered involved the midterm election.

The primary campaign for governor and lieutenant governor on the Republican side brought out many candidates. In contrast, on the Democratic side, only Josh Shapiro ran for governor while a few Democrats contested for the lieutenant governor’s nomination. Many Republicans supported Shapiro, who ran as a moderate.

The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R) drew several candidates in both parties. Democrats fielded Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke during the campaign, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Philadelphia physician Kevin Baumlin, and western Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb.

Among area Senate candidates, conservative author and commentator Kathy Barnette, Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, and Montgomery County lawyer Sean Gale all took part in a debate sponsored by the DVJournal that was broadcast on Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick duked it out, spending massive amounts on television ads. With former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, Oz prevailed by a slim margin, only to lose in the general election to Fetterman. Fetterman’s poor showing in a late October debate failed to move the needle since many voters had already cast their ballots via mail-in voting before seeing it.

The DVJournal also sponsored an online debate for Republican lieutenant governor candidates.

The wide field of men and one woman running for the Republican nomination for governor also debated several times. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) came out on top in the primary despite a last-minute play by party leaders to back former Congressman Lou Barletta. Locally, Delaware County businessman Dave White made a strong showing and Chester County attorney Bill McSwain enjoyed the deep-pocket financial support of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.

Shapiro, who spent millions on television commercials to paint Mastriano as an extremist, went on to handily win the governor’s race. Many believe redistricting in the Delaware Valley collar counties gave the Democrats a new advantage. Democrats defeated several incumbent Republicans, notably Todd Stephens in Montgomery County, Chris Quinn in Delaware County, and Todd Polinchock in Bucks County.

Other 2022 stories in the region included the saga of private utility companies buying up municipal sewer and water authorities. The DVJ has highlighted Pennsylvanians’ likely higher energy bills with Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), despite opposition from the state legislature.  And the state’s crucial Marcellus Shale natural gas industry remains under assault from the Biden administration’s embrace of the Green New Deal.

This year, many other DVJournal articles focused on parents who are at war with “woke” school boards and school administrators who impose critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students and critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students as well as stocking school libraries with obscene books.

The Delaware Valley Journal also brought readers the saga of the state House versus progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner that culminated in the House voting to impeach Krasner for mishandling of his official duties, which they allege is a significant factor in the skyrocketing crime rate in the city. An impeachment trial for Krasner is set in the Senate for Jan. 18.

While crime has been a big issue for DVJournal’s 2022 reporting, inflation was also a hot topic with skyrocketing prices for gas, food, and other goods biting into Delaware Valley residents’ budgets.

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision weighed on the election, causing a rise in Democratic voter registration and driving some women, particularly women in the Delaware Valley suburbs, to the polls. Conversely, the increase in arrests of pro-life activists by the Biden Department of Justice has stirred up passion on the other side of the abortion issue.

And the local reaction to the war in Ukraine is also a concern, with many Ukrainian immigrants living in the area. DVJournal also brought our readers letters from a Ukrainian mother about what it was like to live in that war-torn country.

Amid all the other news vying for attention, the DVJournal has kept its eye on the sad case of the death of Fanta Bility, the 8-year-old girl hit by a bullet fired by police officers. Three Sharon Hill officers pleaded guilty in that case, and a federal lawsuit brought by Bility’s family is pending.

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Mastriano’s New ‘Hard to Watch” Ad Targets Parents

Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is hoping a groundswell of angry parents will sweep him over the finish line.

Mastriano has seized on the issue of the sexualization of public school children and centered a new digital ad “Hard to Watch” on it, using events in schools in Montgomery and Chester Counties to illustrate the problem. He said it is a disturbing trend that his Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro supports.

The Mastriano video includes a Delaware Valley Journal article about obscene books in school libraries. And it mentions a lawsuit filed in court by Malvern mother Fenicia Redman to get those books removed from the Great Valley High School library. Her son is a student at that school.

Asked to comment about the ad, Redman told Delaware Valley Journal, “Sen. Mastriano and Pennsylvania parents see the extremist government actors who’ve held our children hostage and robbed them of their innocence. We’re coming to free our children!”

The ad also mentions a Montgomery County kindergarten class where children were required to read books about transsexuals because one student identified as their non-biological gender. That incident came from an anonymous tip to the senator’s office.

 

Republican political consultant Charlie O’Neill said, “The issues Mastriano is talking about in this ad are definitely issues he can win. But this ad is way too long to have an impact. Across the nation, parental rights have had a major impact on elections. If Mastriano is able to harness that energy in places like the Philadelphia suburbs it could be the boost he needs. However, the election is rapidly approaching, so his campaign better hope it’s not too late.”

For example, the parental rights issue was a big reason Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia after the Democrat famously said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

The Shapiro campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

However, in a television interview Shapiro said that when Mastriano calls for restricting classroom content it contradicts his campaign pitch of freedom. “Walk as free people,” is one of Mastriano’s slogans.

“It’s not freedom when they tell our children what books they can read,” Shapiro said.

As Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Shapiro filed an amicus brief opposing Virginia’s moves to ban biological boys from using girls’ restrooms in schools.

Another parent who is a Mastriano supporter, Jamie Cohen Walker, said she supports him because he will keep the schools open. Children have been harmed by mandatory school closures, losing out on learning and becoming lonely and isolated.

“We knew that keeping kids out of school would harm them, so we fought, and we fought extremely hard because the Democratic politicians and their allies, the teachers union, made us their enemy,” Walker said.

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Fairness in Women’s Sports Act Advances to Full Senate, Wolf Veto Likely

Just in time for the 5oth anniversary of Title IX in June, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act passed the state Senate Education Committee in a 7-4 vote Tuesday, with Republicans praising it and Democrats panning it.

The bill, which passed the House in April, was introduced last year by five women legislators–state Reps. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny), Dawn Keefer (R-Cumberland/York), and Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton/Center)—all of whom were student-athletes themselves and benefited from Title IX. That law requires equal treatment for girls and women in school and college athletics, in particular by protecting them from being forced to compete with biologically male athletes.

“Women are harmed when we fail to defend women’s sports,” said Gliem, testifying before the Senate committee. “I ask everyone here who opposed the bill, to tell the truth in the characterization of this bill. You know it does not ‘ban people from playing sports,’ which we’ve heard in the media. You know the truth that all males, no matter what gender identities they adopt are today welcome and will continue to be welcome to play against biological male bodies in male divisions. Sports are not about what we look like. Or the stereotypes or identities we adopt.”

The bill will “ultimately promote gender equality by giving both biological males and females the best environment in which to succeed,” Gliem said. Girls have “already lost opportunities and have been left to grapple with uncomfortable, painful and difficult situations because nobody in authority is willing to defend them.”

The issue became a cultural flashpoint in the wake of the high-profile story of biologically-male swimmer Lia Thomas, who had been a mediocre NCAA athlete when competing as a male but began breaking records competing as a woman.

White said, “Science and common sense tell us that biological males are generally bigger, faster, and stronger than females. They have larger hearts, lungs, denser bones, stronger muscles, and generate more force in athletics. These are all advantages that cannot be undone.

“Imagine how a young woman feels about missing a spot on a roster for her high school soccer team for a biological male. She loses more than just an opportunity,” said White. “She loses potential friendships and life lessons about being part of a team. She could lose out on athletic scholarship opportunities and miss out on athletic achievements that otherwise would have been hers, had she been given an equal opportunity to have fair play.”

“No one should be forcing biological females to compete against biological males,” White concluded. “It is patently wrong and unfair. Every young woman in Pennsylvania needs to know there are women here in Harrisburg standing up for them and their rights under Title IX. We will not permit anyone to chip away at women’s rights, including the right to have equal opportunity to play.”

Chester County state Sen. Carolyn Committa joined her fellow Democrats in opposing the bill. However, she said she agreed with “the intention of making sure the playing field is level and fair.”

Minority Chair Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) also opposed the bill, citing a letter from a list of organizations against it, including the American School Counselors Association and the National Association of School Psychologists, that said the bill “bans trans women from participating in sports.”

Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) also voted against the bill but agrees with “the intention of making sure the playing field is level and fair.”

Comitta added, “The University of Pennsylvania, that was a mess. That should have never happened. I agree with you. That was a failure on several levels…If there is empirical data that shows harm besides the University of Pennsylvania, be so kind to share that.”

But, Comitta insisted, “standing up for transgender females is not at the expense of other female athletes.”

Parents of female athletes forced to compete with biological males don’t agree.

“We are not anti-trans, we are certainly not anti-Lia,” a mother of a student who swam against Thomas this past season at Harvard told the New York Post. “We are for our girls having the right to compete under fair conditions. It is not fair for them to go up against a biological male, it just isn’t. We’ve been shamed into silence. We feel so helpless. Nobody hears us.”

Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who is running for governor, quoted President John Adams saying, “Facts are stubborn things.”

“Such a basic thing. What is a female? What is a male? I was lectured this past year in my questions by this administration about COVID to follow the science. Let’s do just that. And it’s not subjective at all. I stand in strong support of this legislation…There’s a lot of hate and animosity for anyone who stands for truth these days, sadly,” he said.

Sen. Tim Kearney (D-Chester/Delaware) voted against the bill.

“At its core, House Bill 972 is discriminatory and does nothing more than further marginalize trans individuals. This rhetoric that suggests transgender girls have an athletic advantage is scientifically unfounded and only adds to the stigma and attacks these individuals already face, simply for wanting to be their authentic selves. I stand with my Democratic colleagues in opposition to this bill and any other legislation that seeks to discriminate against trans people,” said Kearney.

If fact, multiple studies show biological males have an athletic advantage over their female counterparts and that advantage lasts for at least a year, if not longer, as an athlete transitions from male to female.

Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Josh Shapiro opposes the legislation and believes the PIAA should determine the rules, not the legislature.

“Instead of wasting time and taxpayer dollars on veto-bound attempts to bully children, our Republican-led legislature should be focused on improving the economy and helping Pennsylvania families. Josh Shapiro’s top priorities are lowering costs and cutting taxes, improving our schools, and making our communities safer – and that’s exactly what he’ll do as governor,” said spokesperson Will Simons.

State Senate candidate Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Harleysville) supports the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. “I believe we need to protect athletic opportunities for biological women across this Commonwealth. The discipline, teamwork, scholarships, championship titles, and other opportunities for women to grow, mature, and compete in their chosen sport are worthy of our protection. Women fought long and hard to earn their rights under Title IX and this bill will ensure they continue to have equal access to play competitive sports on a level playing field, while biological men can continue to compete on the men’s teams.”

However, even if the full Senate approves the bill, Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto it.

“The governor has been clear – hate has no place in Pennsylvania, and that includes discrimination,” said Elizabeth Rementer, Wolf’s spokeswoman. “Any legislation designed to deny opportunities is both disturbing and dangerous. Transgender individuals should know that they belong, that they are valued, and that their participation in activities is welcomed.”

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West Chester Area Parents Continue to Object to Pornographic Books in Schools

In the face of parent complaints, the West Chester Area School District continues to keep controversial books on its middle and high school shelves, including extreme adult language and graphic images of sex.

At the April school board meeting, parents read some of the more explicit content of the books. Superintendent Bob Sokolowski responded by reiterating his support for keeping the controversial content in schools. “I’m standing, students. I’m standing with you and some of the things I heard tonight, we’re talking about freedom of speech. We’re talking about choice. We’re talking about choice and we’re talking about listening to the voice of our students and students, my pledge to you: We’re going to turn that volume up and you’re going to hear the student’s voice.”

Anita Edgarian, a mom, told Delaware Valley Journal that the “superintendent of WCASD pledges to ‘turn it up’ to LGBTQ students after many parents read from sexually explicit materials in our library. The rest of the students don’t matter.”

Mike Winterode told the board that when concerned parents, grandparents, and residents spoke about the books at a previous meeting, they were accused of being intolerant and transphobic. But many of the books they are complaining about include explicit scenes of heterosexual sex as well.

“Those speakers are missing the point. They’re only focused on the transgender characters in the books and not the content of the book itself,” said Winterode. “The fact is, along with [the book] “Gender Queer,” there are a large amount of school district library books containing graphic and obscene content, with heterosexual characters, as well as homosexual and transgender characters. Our concern is with the content, not the characters.”

Image from “Gender Queer”

Winterode noted that the books don’t just “sit innocently on library shelves.” In January, one of his neighbors told the board about his 6th-grade daughter being given a book about gender transition by her teacher.

Winterode noted schools are protected from charges of giving pornography to minors because of a law that exempts education institutions. He called on the state legislators to change that law.

Parent after parent spoke about the library books, some reading shockingly graphic scenes of sexual acts.

“There are many books in our libraries that are not appropriate for even high school-age children,” said Leanne Smith. “Some books include both physical and sexual abuse and even some child grooming.” There are “books listed 18-plus like, ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex.’ Do high schoolers need to read that? You need to take a fine-tooth comb to the libraries in the district.”

Lisa Mansueto said she is concerned about “lack of communication with parents” and “lack of common sense.” She read excerpts from “Tricks” that she called “straight-up pornography with a hefty dose of heroin and cocaine and prostitution and rape, all available to high schoolers.”

Alexis Cooper said, “School librarians seem to feel that minors should have access to all sorts of content even if it’s not age-appropriate.” She cited “Milk and Honey” and the book about tantric sex.

“If this happened in any other setting, adults would be facing charges,” she said. “Yet schools have zero accountability.”

“Leave controversial matters to the parents,” Cooper urged the board.

Several parents, a student, and an author also spoke, telling the board they are in support of keeping the books in the school libraries.

Julie Moyer leads a support group for parents of transgender children. She said most of the books that other parents are objecting to involve LGTBQ-plus information. Transgender youth are four times as likely to commit suicide, she said.

“I am grateful to the school board for voting to keep books like “Gender Queer” on the shelves…We shouldn’t make these books unavailable to the people that need them.”

Edgarian later said those parents who spoke against the pornographic books “respect and love” the LGBTQ students but do not believe these books are age-appropriate.

“I look at the total individual, not only their sexual or gender part, their interests, talents, personality, desires, goals. We need to stop categorizing people,” she said.

Parents in several other Delaware Valley school districts, including Central Bucks, Radnor, and Great Valley have also complained about books with graphic content in their schools. The issue was highlighted in the Republican governor race when former Congressman Lou Barletta recently held a press conference on the topic.

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Dr. Oz Talks About Trump’s Endorsement, Marijuana, and Transgender Issues

Now that Dr. Mehmet Oz has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, he believes half of the Republican electorate will break his way with the remainder of the candidates divvying up the rest.

“There’s one person who is [the Trump candidate]: Dr. Oz,” said Oz in a podcast interview with the Delaware Valley Journal on Wednesday. “There’s five who aren’t. And those five people now have to split up the remaining half of the electorate. And most of those voters are going to vote for me anyway, because they know I’m going to win. And they want someone who has a bold, loud voice who goes to Washington — not as backbencher — but as someone who can articulate exactly why conservative ideas are better ideas.”

As for attack ads from hedge fund CEO David McCormick, who is vying for Oz for first place in the polls, or PACs supporting McCormick, Oz explained his years on television have given them plenty of bogus ammo.

“They never show footage of me saying what they’re claiming…There’s a reason for that. They’ll pick the promo of a show. Listen, I’ve had a network television show, the top health show in the world for 13 years,” the celebrity heart surgeon said.

Both Oz and McCormick angled for Trump’s endorsement. Oz said he received it because Trump “did his homework. He compared me to Dave McCormick and looked at the details of our records. Did we stand up for folks? Are we pro-Second Amendment, pro-life? Are we pro-American energy dominance? Are we tough on crime? Will we fight against the woke mob that wants to tear down much of what they think is our irredeemably stained society?

“And he decided I was the best person to carry that banner,” Oz said.

But what about the moderate Republican voters in the Delaware Valley suburbs?

“The Republicans that I speak to in the four counties, and I spend a lot of time in my home district…strongly believe in the conservative values espoused by the Trump administration. Yes, it made them uncomfortable to see some of the tweets. But as I make clear when you’re being attacked continually with a dishonest and far-left, liberal-leaning media, in many cases, you do get to become a bit of a porcupine and you need to have thick skin and the ability to punch back when people attack you.”

If the Republican primary voters pick Oz as their nominee he could very well be pitted against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a progressive who is leading in the polls on the Democratic side.

While Fetterman wants a moratorium on fracking, Oz favors U.S. energy independence and unleashing Pennsylvania’s natural energy abundance.

“We have all the resources we need that if we were able to harvest natural gas from out West or up North and pipe it through Philadelphia to where the Naval Yard used to be, and you can put it on ships. It would be a huge moneymaker for the city of Philadelphia (to) address our financial needs and help our allies stay safe from Russian or other toxic forces.”

And Fetterman has been a vocal proponent of legalizing recreational marijuana.

Oz, for his part, has no problem with medical marijuana but opposes legalizing pot for recreational use. Oz says he never tried marijuana himself, adding that as a doctor, he did not want to be impaired and unable to help his patients because he had gotten high.

“I have strong sentiments against the legalization of marijuana because we already have a problem with getting young people to work,” he said. “And if you build a psychological addiction, right, that tells people you can’t get through the day unless you smoke a joint, which is what Fetterman is saying is okay, we’re going to have even fewer people engaged in life and they lose their dignity when that happens.”

And, Oz spoke out against teaching young children about gender nonconformity.

“I’ve covered the topic of my show, 80 to 85 percent of kids who say they are transgender will naturally, if they’re not influenced, go back to their biological gender,” Oz said. “But if you change that natural history, if you place ideas in a 5-year-old kindergarten kid’s mind, then you’re going to mess with their mind. You’re not letting them do what kids have done throughout society. Once in a while, Johnny walks in mom’s shoes. It doesn’t mean anything. Love the child, embrace them, let them be who they need to be. And over time they work it out. If you interfere with that process, you hurt people.”

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Bill Keeping Biological Males From Competing in Women’s Sports Passes PA House

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Tuesday approved a bill to prevent biological males from competing in sports with biological females. The measure, entitled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” passed in a 115-84 vote. It now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, which is likely to adopt the measure, although Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has signaled he would veto the proposal.

The bill defines “sex” as the “biological distinction between male and female based on reproductive biology and genetic make-up,” and it requires public schools and state and some private institutions to designate sports teams as male, female or coed. It also prevents “students of the male sex” from participating on teams and in sports “designated for females, women or girls.”

Wolf labeled the bill as “transphobic legislation,” tweeting that Republicans were “wasting time” attempting to pass the bill because it would not “get past my desk.”

The debate over transgendered athletes in sports came to a boil when UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously swam for the men’s team at UPenn, became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA title, finishing first last month in the women’s 500-yard freestyle.

Dozens of states have pushed forward similar bans on transgender athletes competing in sports that they feel match their gender identities.

Proponents of the bill argue differences exists between men and women, giving transgender females advantages over biological females. They base assertions on some studies that show transgender women maintain athletic edges over biological females even after years of hormone therapy.

Critics of the legislation slammed conservatives as prisoners of the moment, relying on outlier examples, like that of UPenn swimmer Thomas, to promote the idea that transgender females  “can decimate an entire league of women’s hard work and advancements,” as state Rep. Barbara Gleim, a primary bill sponsor, said during a House education committee hearing March 29.

Prior to its passage, Gleim slammed “false characterizations” in media of the bill as anti-trans and attacked Wolf’s “preference for woke ideology at the expense” of women.

In a release praising the vote, she said “inherent physical advantages” biological males have cannot be changed with hormone therapy.”

While CNN cited a 2017 report that found “no direct or consistent research” on any physical advantages, a report published last year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined differences in athletic performance that remained between transgender men and women in the Air Force even after years or hormone intervention, NBC News reported.

The researchers retrospectively examined medical records and fitness tests for 29 transgender men and 46 transgender women from 2013 to 2018.

They found trans women did 10 percent more pushups and 6 percent more sit-ups than cisgender counterparts for the first two years after starting hormones.

Those numbers dipped after two years, the researchers said, but 1.5-mile times for trans females at the same juncture were about 12 percent faster, the outlet reported.

At the same education committee hearing this month, state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) argued the legislation was needed to protect women under Title IX, a federal law passed in the 1970s that banned sex-based discrimination.

Lawmakers cited President Joe Biden’s executive order, issued earlier this year, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“They (males) have larger hearts and lungs, denser bones, stronger muscles, and generate more force in athletics,” White said. “These are all advantages that cannot be undone.”

White cited the potential for girls and women to miss out on scholarships to trans counterparts and dangerous situations that could arise in games, such as having to tag out trans girls running toward home plate in softball games. She called the potential for such collisions to be “life-changing.”

“Having separate teams for men and women is a time-tested way to ensure that women have an opportunity to showcase their talents and be champions,” White, a former athlete, said at the hearing. “We will not give up this fight. Nobody should be forcing biological females to compete against biological males. It is patently wrong and unfair. We will not permit anyone to chip away at women’s rights.”

Republican legislators cited “thousands” of cases of transgender athletes competing in sports across Pennsylvania, a figure that appears overblown, said Dr. Ron Kennedy, executive director at the Philadelphia Interscholastic Athletic Association’s District 3.

A former athletic director at Donegal High School in Mount Joy, Kennedy interviewed about a dozen trans athletes as part of his doctoral studies at Drexel University.

The bill, he said, targets a marginalized group of people whose suicides rates are already “off the charts.”

“Having a blanket policy, I don’t think, is the right thing to do,” he told Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “You don’t become transgender because you want to win the 100-meter dash.”

“Who is it really gonna affect? I think that’s that the easy way out,” Kennedy said. “They’re making a policy based on the Lia Thomas [situation].”

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Parents Speak Out About Great Valley Transgender Secrecy Policy

Several parents told the Great Valley School Board at a recent meeting they oppose a policy requiring teachers and counselors to keep it secret from parents when a child is questioning their own gender.

The policy came to light recently when a whistleblower teacher came forward to discuss the issue with the Delaware Valley Journal.

Parents reacted strongly to that story.

“Young children do not have the emotional and mental maturity to make such a life alternating, complicated decision, such as identifying as the other gender,” said Hillary Schmid, a parent. “In fact, it’s totally developmentally inappropriate. Here are some facts: The female brain is not fully developed until 21 years old, the male 25 years old. Feeling like one is the opposite gender is called gender dysphoria. ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- 5’ defines gender dysphoria as clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of the opposite gender. Gender dysphoria is a mental health diagnosis. Signs include depression, loneliness, anxiety–all mental health conditions–as well as discomfort in their birth gender. This diagnosis is made by a trained psychiatrist.

“Unless parents have given the doctor’s report stating so, no staff should take the word of a young child and refer to the child as a different name/pronoun,” Schmid said.

Another parent, Andrew McClellan, said he has gay and transgender people in his extended family and he is not homophobic or transphobic. However, he added that he does not believe school officials have the right to withhold such significant information from parents.

McClellan opposes “the liberties that the schools have taken, literally taking decisions away from parents. And, what relates directly to this is transgender grooming. They do it in secret. If it was so desirable and so on the up and up and if they were truly trying to help people, why wouldn’t they do it out in the open? Why would it be so covert? In my opinion, it’s none of the school’s business, whatsoever.”

Sally Campbell, a mother and a pediatric nurse who had previously run for the school board, told board members she has lived in the district for decades and no longer recognizes it. She also opposes the policy to keep parents in the dark about their children’s possible transgender proclivities.

“It’s a very sad day in Great Valley when a teacher is standing up for the children and wanting to protect the parental rights of the children and has to refer to themselves as a whistleblower. I see this individual as a hero,” Campbell said.

But another mom told the board she appreciates the way the district handled her child’s wish to transition in 2020, although she was shocked at first.

“My son was not ready to tell me,” she said. As for other parents who are disturbed by the policy she said, “It is not that your child or the school is hiding something from you. It is that your child doesn’t feel ready to talk to you about it yet.”

The school district has cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as a basis for its policy. However, two attorneys have told DVJournal that FERPA says the exact opposite.

“I was very surprised to learn of the reference to FERPA in the district’s policy,” said Tena Herlihy, a lawyer who has experience representing educational institutions on FERPA matters. “FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of education records. However, FERPA gives rights to parents. Students do not have rights under FERPA until they reach 18 or attend school beyond the high school level.”

Herlihy added, “In fact, if there are educational records that are revealed by the district, including a student’s name, without permission of the parent, that is a violation of FERPA subject to penalties that could include loss of federal funding.”

Schmid noted the inconsistency in how the school district handles health issues.

“You must have our permission to give kids Tylenol. But you can keep a secret of such significant information that will have consequential effects?” she asked.

“I find it appalling that the official policy of the district is for staff to intentionally mislead and withhold information regarding their children. When a child is confused regarding such a serious matter, the parents should be notified immediately

“It’s ok if a child goes to a staff member that they trust to talk to. But then the next step is to notify the parents. You do not get to make decisions about our children’s mental and physical health. You did not birth them. We make the decisions. Schools have zero right to withhold any information from parents,” Schmid said.

A spokesperson for the district did not respond to a request for comment.

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