A school district in Pennsylvania has introduced new rules that ban gender identity books from its libraries.
According to a report from WHYY, employees within the Pennridge school district were notified about the rules by an email from the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education, Anthony Rybarczyk.
“The district is requesting that library book with content regarding gender identity be removed from the current elementary circulations,” the email stated.
The email went on to say that the removed books will be reviewed for “sensitive topics involving foul language, intense violence, gender identity, and graphic sexual content.”
After this process, the selected titles are then “placed in an area” by counsellors and only available to parents or guardians upon request.
“Developmentally, these topics should always involve conversations between the student and trusted adults, both at home and at school,” the email continued. “Creating this resource library will ensure that our students are fully supported.”
On top of removing these informative books, the district also unveiled another set of strict guidelines regarding students pronouns and names.
In an additional email, the school district’s Director for Pupil Services – Dr Cheri Derr – said the terms “related to LGBTQ+” should not be discussed with elementary students.
The new regulations also said middle and high school students who request a change to their name or pronouns must supply “parental permission.”
Parents and students within the school district have since come out and condemned the new rules.
Witold Walczak, who is the legal director for ACLU Pennsylvania, said the policy “raises very serious concerns” regarding a student’s privacy and safety.
“From a policy perspective, you’re setting these students up for a situation where there is no adult that they can talk to,” Walczak told WHYY.
“Very often in these kinds of situations, parents are not an option. Sometimes parents are the problem.
“If you impose this disclosure requirement, you’re shutting the door to students being able to talk to school professionals. Some of these kids could really get hurt.”
LGBTQ+ youth therapist Erin Eagles, who is gay and has a two-year-old child, echoed similar sentiments and said she’s scared to send her child to school in the district.
“I’m terrified of her feeling shamed or like she can’t just talk about the most normal things, like her immediate family,” she explained.
“We’re trying to have another child, and I worry that I’m doing the wrong thing. But if we leave this community, that’s one less [family] here to normalize LGBTQ and other minority individuals.”
In terms of future legal action, Walczak said that a potential case could head to court in the new year.
“My guess is we’ll be litigating at least one of these cases in 2022 somewhere,” he said.