Democrats Campaign on LGBT Issues to Attempt Takeover of Pa. School Board
Democrats in the Keystone State are relying on LGBT issues to take control of a school board. Pennsylvanians will vote today on whether to hand the Central Bucks School District — the state’s third-largest, serving over 17,000 students — to Republicans campaigning on parental rights or Democrats campaigning on LGBT issues. Republicans currently hold six of the school board’s nine seats; Democrats must take four of the five seats up for grabs to take control, while Republicans only need to keep two.
In comments to The Washington Stand, Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies Meg Kilgannon said, “There are school board races like this across the country, but Democratic Party-endorsed candidates aren’t always so forthcoming about the devotion to sexualized content for children. This tells me that folks in Philly suburbs are confident and comfortable campaigning on their service to LGBTQ interests and activist groups.” She added, “Central Bucks County was one of the school districts where parents were incensed over school shutdowns and masking policies, but, once engaged, were shocked by the political and sexual agendas on offer to children.”
Conservative board president Dana Hunter told The Washington Stand, “The board’s focus is on academic excellence for all students.” She said that she and fellow Republican candidates are trying to create “an inclusive environment free from the promotion of any political or sociopolitical content — classrooms that do not exclude anyone because of their beliefs or values.” She added, “I believe it is inappropriate for teachers to impress their political stances on the children over whom they have such influence.”
The Republican-led school board has become a hotbed for debate over parental rights and LGBT issues. Earlier this year, the board approved a policy banning teachers from displaying politically- or sexually-charged imagery, such as rainbow Pride flags, in classrooms. The board has also banned pornographic and sexually explicit books like “Gender Queer” and put in place policies requiring parents to be notified if students seek to socially transition their gender by using different names or pronouns. Such policies led to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with the federal government, alleging the board discriminates against students who identify as LGBT. Two investigations by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights ensued.
In response, the board hired the Philadelphia-based Duane Morris law firm to conduct an internal investigation into the ACLU’s claims. After five months, the investigation concluded that “there is no evidence to support the allegations that the School District is awash in anti-LGBTQ bullying, harassment, or discrimination or that the School District has allowed such behavior to persist.”
“Keeping parents uninformed about pronoun changes, name changes and gender transition isn’t a form of mental health support — it’s operating under a veil of secrecy,” Hunter told The Washington Stand. “I stand firm in parent notification if a child has requested a name or pronoun change. I do not believe that facilitating a child’s gender transition without including parents is appropriate.”
Furthermore, the Duane Morris investigation found evidence to suggest that several teachers, students, and Democratic school board members — all opposed to parental rights policies the board had enforced — attempted to manufacture the false impression that students were discriminated against for identifying as LGBT. The report stated:
“They do not agree with policies that require classrooms to be politically neutral; they prefer classrooms where teachers are free to push ideology (or at least one particular ideology) on students. They do not agree with policies that require parent or guardian consent to change a student’s name or gender pronouns; they prefer a situation where children can be socially transitioned and renamed behind their parents’ backs, or even against their parents’ wishes. They oppose policies setting age-appropriateness requirements for books depicting sex acts; they believe such books (or at least those with an ‘LGBTQ theme’) should be allowed without restriction or oversight by those charged under Pennsylvania law with making such judgments, the Superintendent and the duly-elected Board of School Directors. They do not believe elementary school human sexuality classes should be separated by sex, even though the practice is longstanding in the District and elsewhere, supported by decades of educational experience, and permitted by federal law.”
Classifying such teachers, students, and school board members as “activists,” the report further said that, “having lost the November 2021 School Board election, the new minority attempted to weaponize federal investigatory resources to achieve their aims. In doing so, they exhibited a regrettable callousness.”
But Democrats are still campaigning on LGBT issues to take back the school board. Political action committees and other activist groups have already raised over $300,000 to support the Democrats running for the Central Bucks school board. Republicans have also raised $225,000, mostly from wealthy local residents concerned about the education their children and neighbors’ children are receiving. Much of the money on the Republican side has come from Paul Martino, an investor living in Bucks County whose wife, Aarati, is running for a position on the school board.
Kilgannon commented, “The generous support parent-led activists and campaigns have enjoyed from wealthy residents is nothing compared to the in-kind and national institutional support for pro-LGBTQ candidates from the local teacher’s union all the way up to the Biden administration’s investigation of the school district on bogus civil rights claims.” She added, “Pro-family candidates tend to be supported by faith, hard work, and love for children and families. Angel donors like the Martinos are heroes for funding this kind of local effort to wrest local schools from the control of progressive ideologues. We could use a few more of them.”
The Central Bucks voting map was reorganized Friday, with a Montgomery County judge’s approval, into three districts, instead of nine. Voting in the school board election is today.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.