Policy 720 Repealed: PV Board Votes to Remove Controversial Bathroom Policy

On Sep. 2, 2023, shortly after the 2023-2024 academic year began, a PV community member posted on Facebook to criticize the school’s then-bathroom policy that allowed students to use the bathroom of their declared gender identity rather than their biological sex. This post contributed to the board adopting Policy 720, a measure restricting students to the restrooms of their biological sex, and culminated on Monday, Feb. 12, when the board reversed its previous decision and retired Policy 720, just 133 days after it was put in place. 

On Monday, that same community member stood at the school board’s business meeting to criticize their decision. 

“It’s pretty disgraceful that my daughter had to be the one that is told ‘suck it up, we’re going to cater to an ideology and you can’t go to the bathroom in peace,’” he said at the end of a lengthy, politically charged and emotional meeting where the board voted 6-3 to repeal Policy 720. 

In the period between that post and 720’s removal, however, even more dissonance struck Perkiomen Valley. On Sep. 15 of last year, many PV students staged a walkout protesting the board’s initial decision to not implement Policy 720, with many students wishing to protect the rights of female students whom they saw as being discriminated against by the previous policy. 

Even further, only a week later, an anonymous, expletive-laden bomb threat was sent to PV, reading, in all capital letters, “YOU WILL UNDO THIS BATHROOM DECISION OR YOU WILL CONTINUE TO FACE OUR WRATH!” The threat served as another call for the board to implement Policy 720, which they eventually did on Oct. 2. 

Despite all this, the board’s sentiment on the issue changed after the school board elections on Nov. 7, whereby the Democratic ticket, known as PV Forward, won unanimously, flipping the board from a slim 5-4 Republican majority to a 6-3 Democratic tilt. This majority is what led the board to comfortably pass a measure to repeal Policy 720 on Monday as one of its first orders of business since rising to power. 

“From what I am hearing tonight, some people are saying that the majority is always right,” newly elected board member Todd McKinney said, in reference to the fact that the policy protected the district’s small minority of transgender students, a fact which many opponents of the previous policy lamented. “If that is the case, then I would still be in chains,” McKinney, who is Black, said. 

Amidst the cacophony of controversy surrounding this policy, the voice of the students at the latest meeting was rather quiet, much to the dismay of many on both sides. 

“Student voice, among all those of parents, is much needed and welcomed,” school board President Laura White, who voted to repeal Policy 720 on Monday, said. 

While many proponents of Policy 720 criticized PV’s administration for not polling students on their opinion, others, like student representative Claire Tremba, defended the actions of administration and called for an end to the noise and controversy surrounding the district. 

“It’s not as simple as sending out a survey or poll,” Tremba said at the Feb. 12 meeting. “The consensus of the students is that the issue has become convoluted with political agendas. It’s gotten away from what Policy 720 is about. To our students now, it’s about our school being on the news for our school board meetings instead of our student section. We’re getting bomb threats and scared for our lives in class over using the bathroom.” 

For Tremba, the hope moving forward is that the district improves its decorum and civility regarding hot-button issues.

“[It’s] important to be respectful of everyone’s opinion. With issues so controversial, it’s vital to remember that everyone will never agree, but everyone can be kind,” Tremba said.