Some in Selinsgrove upset about transgender bathroom policy in schools

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 2, 2016 3:31 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A debate over how to accomodate transgender students is heating up in a midstate school district.

A few districts have settled the issue, but Selinsgrove is trying to find a path forward.

Earlier this year, Selinsgrove Superintendent Chad Cohrs made a decision: transgender students could use the bathroom and locker room that matches their gender identity.

Cohrs didn't go to the school board beforehand, and he now says he would have handled the process differently.

But he stands by his decision.

Jason Goodman with the gay rights group the Pennsylvania Youth Congress stands with him.

"Are you going to put a vulnerable population in that position? And we know as a concept, separate but equal does not work, and it can be very dehumanizing," says Goodman.

As for those who may be concerned?

"If anyone needs additional privacy, for whatever reason it may be, that's why schools do provide accommodations for individuals," he adds.

But there's a sizable opposition.

It includes Jeremy Samek, senior counsel with a law firm funded by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, a conservative Christian group.

"People can respect members of the opposite sex and respect their dignity without having to open up those areas," he counters.

Samek says transgender students shouldn't be able to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity because he says it would violate the privacy of other students.

"When we look at the bathrooms and locker rooms and showers, the only reason we have those separate facilities is based on our biological sex, not based on how we feel internally about gender. It's based on those anatomical and biological considerations," he adds.

A school board meeting is set for Monday night, and the issue is expected to come up.

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