Column: Policies target the LGBTQ+ community

By Celeste Eback, website editor

During the January PENNCREST School Board meeting, policies 109.2 and 123 were updated. Policy 109.2 aims to eliminate sexually explicit content from our libraries. Policy 123 specifies that students can only be on sports teams that correspond to their biological sex. These policies are targeting the LGBTQIA+ community.

What Policy 109.2 defines as sexually explicit is as follows: “Visual or visually implicit depiction of sexual acts or simulations, explicit written depictions of acts, visual depictions of nudity—with the exception of anatomical diagrams and classical artworks.”

On the surface level, this may seem to make sense; however, this policy invites bias into the school libraries and targets LGBTQIA+ books which discuss relationships and identity. In queer stories, as in many young adult stories, sex and sexuality can be major factors in self discovery. 

Those of us in this community are considered a minority. The ability for this niche group of people to have characters in books that they relate to and understand them can make all the difference. LGBTQIA+ centered books allow these students to ask questions related to the topic, explore their identity, and read about how the protagonists in their books deal with similar issues. 

Policy 123 aims to eliminate trans athletes from sports teams. The policy specifies, “It shall be the policy of the Board to offer opportunities for participation in interscholastic athletic programs to biological (at birth) male and female students as equal students on as equal a basis as is practicable and without discrimination…” Reread those words. Do you see the issue with that statement? It’s saying that without discrimination, males and females can be on a sports team. Adding the phrase “biological (at birth)” contradicts the Board’s own statement by discriminating against the students on the grounds of their biological sex. 

According to a recent Erie Times News article, the idea of transgender athletes having an advantage is flawed as it does not consider that trans athletes have not finished puberty until their late teens and can continue to mature through their early twenties. In the same article, board president Luigi DeFrancesco admitted that there have been no instances of trans athletes in the district, but claimed “the day will come.” My question is this: Why is the district trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist? 

As students in this district, we have the right to expect that policies passed by the school board will be legal, non-discriminatory, and in the best interests of all students. That is not the case here. These policies infringe upon the rights of a minority group that already has to deal with being marginalized on a daily basis.

Here’s the real question: Why are these people so hinged on what’s in someone’s pants?

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