x
Breaking News
More () »

WNEP.com | News, Weather & Sports from WNEP-TV — Proud to Serve Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania

School Bathroom Issue Draws Mixed Reaction

WILKES-BARRE — President Obama has a message for public schools across the country: end gender discrimination in bathrooms or lose federal funding. A lett...
transgender

WILKES-BARRE -- President Obama has a message for public schools across the country: end gender discrimination in bathrooms or lose federal funding.

A letter is being sent out to all public school districts in the country.

The directive, signed by the education and justice departments, includes access to bathrooms and locker rooms.

Schools that do not obey the law could be sued or lose federal money.

Newswatch 16 called several school districts across the Wyoming Valley.

Crestwood School District Superintendent Joseph Gorham issued this statement:

 "Crestwood has not encountered the need thus far for making arrangements to accommodate transgendered individuals, but in the spirit of acceptance of all students; we will certainly address any concerns that may arise by ensuring that all students are treated fairly and with the same respect and dignity that we afford to each and every individual student here at Crestwood."

But some parents had mixed reactions.

One woman told Newswatch16 she does not feel that she is discriminating. She simply does not want her daughter in the bathroom with a transgender person.

Dale Deitrick has a grandson in eight grade at GAR Junior Senior High School in Wilkes-Barre.

"Oh, brother," Deitrick laughed. "Yeah, it worries! Yoy!"

Deitrick admits he's worried because he's not familiar with transgender students or anyone who is transgender. But  Wilkes-Barre Area school officials say they are.

"This is not anything new with our district," said student services director Rochelle Koury. "We've been extremely proactive."

The Wilkes-Barre Area School District has a handful of transgender students. All teachers and students receive diversity training. And every building throughout the Wilkes-Barre Area School District has gender-neutral bathrooms.

"All of our students are aware that we do have some transgender students within the district, and everyone is extremely accepting of everyone's rights," Koury said.

But one member of the NEPA Rainbow Alliance, who is also a stepmom, points out most people have probably been in the bathroom with a transgender person and never even realized it.

"I certainly think they should comply to keep everyone safe and comfortable," said Kelly Novakowski, NEPA Rainbow Alliance co-chair. "On the other hand, I never want to see someone's funding getting pulled. I would say that as an organization, the NEPA RAINBOW alliance is happy to offer education to any school system or school districts that would want our assistance with that."

Novakowski also thinks once the initial shock of the letter blows over, people might be more accepting of transgender people.