At a Jan. 17 committee meeting, the Upper Moreland Township School Board discussed a new policy for transgender students that includes keeping students’ requests for changed names and pronouns secret from parents and allowing biological males who identify as female to use the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms. That policy and administrative guidelines could be adopted at the Feb. 14 meeting.
Erika Sanzi, outreach director for Parents Defending Education, said similar policies are in use in other school districts, both in Pennsylvania and around the nation.
“Schools only have authority over children because their parents delegate that authority,” said Sanzi. “Parents give permission for the school to administer Tylenol or use their child’s photo on a flyer. It is a complete betrayal of trust for a school to withhold information and deliberately deceive parents about their child’s gender identity at school, a much more consequential issue than taking Tylenol.”
According to the proposed policy posted by the district, “All persons, including students, have a right to privacy. This includes keeping a student’s actual or perceived gender identity and expression private. Therefore, school personnel should not disclose information about a TGD student’s gender identity and expression to others, including the student’s parents/guardians … unless the student has authorized such disclosure or explicitly disclosed their gender identity in the school setting.”
Upper Moreland parent Kaitlin McLaughlin has four children, three girls in elementary school and a 3-year-old boy. She is appalled by this new transgender policy.
“It’s very concerning,” McLaughlin said. “First of all, it’s a district-wide policy that does not have any grade levels attached to it. So they can do this in elementary school. There’s been a lot of discussions going on between pride flags and bathroom usage, things that are very concerning. But one of the most concerning things is that this will be put into the curriculum. So, now they’re tying the teachers’ hands.”
McLaughlin keeps a close eye on what her kids are doing in school, but she knows many other parents do not and are surprised when something like this policy happens.
“I will teach my children about gender and gender diversity and sexuality when I find it most appropriate,” she said. “And who do they think they are to interject in that dynamic between parents and children?”
“I am the mother of these kids, and it’s my job to protect them…They certainly don’t need to teach this, particularly not in elementary school,” McLaughlin said.
Lower Moreland Superintendent Susan Elliott has yet to respond to a request for comment from Delaware Valley Journal. However, in an email to parents Friday, she seemed to be backpedaling on the transgender policy in the face of parent opposition.
“Students are not permitted to use any bathroom or locker room they choose. If a student desires to use a bathroom or locker room which is not the same as the gender they were assigned at birth, the student and their family must meet with our administration and counselors to discuss their options and to ensure a clear plan is in place. This includes offering the use of gender-neutral bathrooms in each of our schools or a separate and private location in a locker room. Each school has designated gender-neutral bathrooms for this purpose, which has been standard practice for several years,” Elliott wrote.
“It is also standard practice that our counselors meet with students who identify as transgender or gender-diverse, as well as their families, to discuss options that will help all students feel safe and respected. If any student, whether transgender or not, has any concerns about privacy, those concerns are accommodated on an individual basis,” Elliott wrote.
Sanzi said that not long ago it would have been “unthinkable” that school districts would withhold information from parents about their child’s “gender dysphoria,” she said. “Literally, your child could be taking off their clothes in the locker room of the opposite sex or sleeping in the sleeping quarters of the opposite sex on a field trip. So, it’s isn’t as simple as some people think, who say, ‘It’s just pronouns.’”
“Quite a few people are trying to look at this and understand what the heck is going on,” said Sanzi. “We’re seeing lawsuits by parents or parent advocate groups filed against school districts for pushing gender ideology on their children, facilitating transitions behind parents’ backs, and deliberately withholding information from parents.”
McLaughlin said, “Children need to be protected and they need to be taught in an age-appropriate way. And that needs to be the decision of the parents.”