Elanco School District photo

The Eastern Lancaster County School District offices are inside Garden Spot High School, 669 E. Main St., New Holland.

Eastern Lancaster County School District is considering an extensive — and potentially expensive — overhaul of its bathrooms and locker rooms, following a public outcry over how it has accommodated a transgender high school student.

The idea, which was discussed Thursday night during the first of at least three committee meetings to be held regarding student privacy, includes replacing boys’ and girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms with private, single-occupant, lockable stalls at each of the district’s five schools.

First, though, the school board must adopt a student privacy policy outlining what the new setup would look like, and how it would be implemented.

“Step one is the policy,” Superintendent Bob Hollister told LNP after Thursday night’s meeting. “Policy will drive our action.”

Hollister has charged the committee, which consists of four school board members, with crafting a new policy to introduce to the rest of the board. Until then, many details — such as a timetable and cost — are still up in the air, he said.

The committee on Thursday worked through a draft of a student privacy policy provided by a law firm recently subcontracted by the district: McNees, Wallace & Nurick.

The district is also working with architect Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates to potentially redesign the district’s bathrooms and locker rooms.

'On the right track'

About 40 residents attended the meeting. While several of them still questioned the district’s decision to allow the transgender student to use the facilities of his/her choice, many were on board with the district’s idea.

“I feel like the school board is on the right track,” Mimy Rollman, of Bowmansville, told a reporter after the meeting. “I feel like this is something that needs to happen for all students, not just for those who identify as transgender.”

Zak Gregg, of New Holland, agreed.

“I think that at the end of the day, it’s our kids’ privacy, and that facilitates a good learning environment,” he said, adding that a potentially costly renovation “shouldn’t compromise our kids’ safety.”

Committee member Gary Buck said while it may end up costing the district money now, a change could prevent issues “10, 20, 30 years from now.”

“It’s expensive,” he said, “but it’s hard to put a price tag on somebody’s safety and privacy, especially in this day and age. And I think most taxpayers understand that.”