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Pennridge School District discusses revised bathroom policy


The Pennridge School District’s policy committee is tackling a new bathroom policy it said is intended to respect students’ right to privacy.

During a recent meeting, the committee held a “first read” of Policy 720, that states, “the use of school restrooms is included in this right (to privacy) and with the options for bathroom use, all individuals have the ability to select the bathroom of their choice.”

Under the previous school board, the district’s bathroom policy restricted the use of restrooms, locker rooms and showers to students’ sex at birth. The new policy would not allow for those of the opposite sex to enter a bathroom, locker room or shower that is designated for use of the opposite sex.

While some members of the public favored the changes, Hilltown Township resident Jamie Hunt cautioned against it.

When a similar policy was enacted in the Bristol Township School District where she was a special education teacher, Hunt said, “The district lost complete control over the schools…students could go into any bathroom, anytime…drug deals were made and sexual acts” took place.

Laura Foster, co-founder of RIDGENetwork, a grassroots organization created about 18 months ago in opposition to the existing policy and other matters, said the policy, as written now, is “discriminatory and a violation of legal standards.”

“It compels transgender, nonbinary and gender-neutral students, along with LGBTQ+ teachers, staff and visitors to out themselves,” Foster said, in a statement.

Foster’s sister, Leah Foster Rash, is a school board member and chair of the policy committee.

In the initial draft of the revised policy, the district said, it “shall provide restroom facilities that meet the needs of every individual in the schools. Students shall be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity and/or fits their biological sex. No student will be required to use a specific type of restroom.”

The new proposed policy continues, “The district will provide access to single-user restrooms, multi-user restrooms, and restrooms that are not based on their biological sex.”

An analysis by the Education Law Center found, “There is no legal basis for a school district to prohibit students from using the school bathroom or locker room that aligns with their gender identity.”

The committee agreed to discuss the policy further with its solicitor before scheduling another meeting.

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