A letter to the Western Wayne School District President

Dear Mr. Olsommer,

I am a Western Wayne School District resident seeking information on behalf of two students who contacted me electronically to ask that I approach you on their behalf. I have never to my knowledge met the teenage students, but friends of my daughter confirmed their identity. Both were too fearful to attend a School Board meeting, or even to write you directly, which was my initial advice to them.

The students want to confirm they are free to use the restroom and locker room that matches the gender to which they identify. While they have no current wish to use facilities not matching the sex on their birth certificates, they want to know if they will face punishment if they do. To be clear, a student who has a birth certificate that indicates the child is female, self-identifies as a boy, and would like to confirm that he is free to use the boys’ facilities at Western Wayne High School. Also, a student who has a birth certificate that indicates the child is male, self-identifies as a girl, and would like to confirm that she is free to use the girls’ facilities at Western Wayne High School.

These kids were upset that School Board members AJ Gaudenzi and Roger Shaffer Jr. posted on Facebook that they would seek to block Western Wayne School District’s compliance with the newest Title IX mandate. Both students have also asked me to reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania for guidance, which I have done. My involvement is solely because their parents are not supportive, and I could not turn them away after they shared their stories of being bullied at school.

Thank you in advance.

Cole Alpaugh
Salem Township, PA

About colealpaugh

Cole Alpaugh began his newspaper career in the early 1980's at a daily paper on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where he covered everything from bake sales to KKK meetings. He moved on to a paper in Massachusetts to specialize in feature essays, where his stories on a Hispanic youth gang and the life of a Golden Gloves boxer won national awards. His most recent newspaper job was at a large daily in Central New Jersey, where he was given the freedom to pursue more "true life" essays, including award winning pieces on a traveling rodeo, and an in-depth story on an emergency room doctor. The doctor's story ended when the physician brought back to life an elderly woman who'd once been his children's babysitter. The essay was nominated by Gannett News Service for a 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Cole also did work for two Manhattan-based news agencies, covering conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and guerrilla raids conducted out of the refugee camps along the Thai/Cambodia boarder. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and writer living in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he spends his afternoons watching his daughter hit fuzzy yellow balls and ski through slalom gates. You can find him online at ColeAlpaugh.com.
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