Penn-Delco School District superintendent was worried how student protest against biological males using female restrooms would affect “property values”; district adopts policy to keep gender identity of students hidden from parents


On October 25, 2023, students at Penn-Delco School District attempted to walk out in protest of biological males using female restrooms. However, reports and videos came out showing that staff blocked students from leaving the Sun Valley High School building. There were also reports that students were discouraged from participating with possible punishment. Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request seeking emails from staff regarding the situation and video footage of the school during the protest. PDE has not yet received the video footage and received no response when asking about it. PDE did receive the emails from the request.

In an email dated October 23, 2023, Superintendent George Steinoff sent an email to the district’s Board of School Directors regarding the upcoming protest. The superintendent acknowledged that in the past students were allowed to protest. However, he stated that this time was different because “this is a parent-led activity encouraging students to leave school.” Part of the email is cut out, but part of the superintendent’s email can still be read stating that students who protest “will have cut class without permission and are marked as an unexcused absence.”

A major concern of the superintendent also appeared to be the protest’s effect on property value. While part of the email is cut out, the superintendent appeared to state that the protest “is a terrible look for the town, not helpful for property values.”

PDE received an email from the Sun Valley High School principal to teachers dated October 23, 2023. The principal told teachers regarding the protest: “Please do not communicate anything to students regarding the possibility of the protest or its consequences other than; Wednesday at 10am we will be transitioning to 4th period as its the end of 3rd period. The expectation is all students are in their 4th period classes as school policies state students may not leave school without permission. Attendance policies are also enforced as it is a regular day of school. This covers class cuts and unexcused absences. The handbook clearly states any class work missed for a cut or unexcused absence cannot be made up.” The principal notably had his pronouns listed in his email signature.

The school’s principal sent an email to staff on October 24, 2023, giving staff responsibilities during the protest. These responsibilities included “directing student expectation to attend their regularly scheduled class,” “indicating that attendance policies are in effect and will be coded appropriately if not attending,” and “monitoring all areas for safety/conduct violations.” The email also had specific staff assigned to tasks during this time.

The school district also provided PDE with a policy titled “Non-Discrimination/Gender Preference Accommodations” that was adopted on November 20, 2023. The policy states that the school district will allow students to identify as the opposite sex:

The District shall permit a transgender student to be treated as the opposite gender of their biological sex in all respects only when the student has engaged in a process with the District to confirm his/her commitment to the chosen gender identity.

Students can also use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their preferred gender identity if “they have been approved for an accommodation following a formal process.” Additional guidelines to this policy specifically state that the preferred gender identity of students can be kept a secret from parents when discussing who will be involved:

To protect the student’s privacy, this team is limited to: the school principal, the student, the student’s parents/guardians (absent student safety or welfare concerns), the school counselor, individuals the student identifies as trusted adults, and individuals the principal determines may have a legitimate interest in the safety and healthy development of the student.