The Eastern Lancaster County school board on Monday discussed two interim policy options to allay the community’s concerns over accommodations the board has made for a transgender high school student.
The board, however, ended up not voting on either one.
“It just shows the board is taking their time and processing everyone’s concerns and processing the volume of data that they have us collecting for them,” district Superintendent Bob Hollister said after the meeting.
The two policy ideas were presented by school board President Glenn Yoder. Had the policies been approved Monday, he said, the district would have implemented them quickly, and they would have lasted until a permanent policy was in place.
The first option: Allow students to use only the restrooms and locker rooms that align with their biological gender. The second: Discontinue showering and changing for gym classes at the high school, and decommission the urinals in boys’ restrooms.
Option one, Yoder said, would be “a gamble with very high stakes,” as the district would risk a lawsuit from the transgender student’s family — a lawsuit the district most likely would lose, he said.
Yoder, the rest of the board, plus Hollister, favored the second option. Hollister said the district would need a two-week window before the board implemented such a policy. That way, the district could notify parents, and gym teachers could reconfigure their classes to include less vigorous physical activity.
But the board passed on the vote. Board members agreed to revisit the issue in April, when a four-member committee formed in February will have finished a monthlong review of student privacy districtwide.
The policy, Hollister said, is “pretty close” to completion. Renovations to the high school locker rooms, which would cost about $1 million, could start in the fall. Districtwide changes would follow.
As it stands, a transgender boy is allowed to use the boys’ facilities at Garden Spot High School. By not implementing an interim policy, New Holland resident Chuck Trupe said, the board dropped the ball.
“You can’t have girls being in the boys’ bathrooms for the next year or, even worse, boys going into the girls’ bathrooms,” Trupe, 62, told LNP after the meeting. “It’s just not right.”
Tim Bender, 53, of New Holland, remains hopeful that the board will make the right decisions moving forward.
Asked what the best solution is for student privacy, he said, “I don’t think I have that answer. … I’m trusting our school board.”
Elanco’s next school board meeting is a committee of the whole meeting on April 8 at 7 p.m., also inside Community Hall.