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's newspaper career began in the early 80s, starting with small daily papers in Maryland and Massachusetts, where his stories won national awards. His most recent job was at a large daily in Central New Jersey, where his "true life" essays included award-winning pieces on a traveling rodeo and an in-depth story on an emergency room doctor that was nominated by Gannett News Service for a 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Cole also contracted with two Manhattan-based news agencies, covering conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Thailand and Cambodia. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and novelist living in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he spends afternoons in a virtual running race around the equator, and evenings watching his daughter's magical stage performances. You can find him online at ColeAlpaugh.com.
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