Peoria Unified School Governing Board Refuses To Develop Bathroom Policy To Protect Female Students

May 1, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

A west valley school district governing board declined to take proactive measures against males or females using bathrooms of the opposite sex, and many parents are outraged.

Last week, the Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board voted to reject a “motion to direct administration to prepare the first draft of a facility use policy for PUSD student bathrooms and locker rooms.” That motion was offered by board member Rebecca Hill and seconded by Heather Rooks. Board members David Sandoval, Bill Sorensen, and Melissa Ewing voted to sink the motion.

According to PUSD, “the District does not currently have a Governing Board policy regarding bathroom or locker room use, and the purpose of this agenda item was to determine whether or not the Governing Board should adopt a formal policy that limits the use of bathrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex.”

Rebecca Hill, the PUSD member who brought the motion, told her colleagues and the attendees in the crowded meeting space that during her tenure on the Peoria Unified School Board, “there has never been an issue more important to me than the one at hand tonight.” She appealed to the other board members, saying, “as leaders of this district, it is incumbent upon us to implement a policy that upholds common decency and respects the right to privacy that both our girls and boys are entitled to when using campus restrooms, locker rooms and any other private facility at our schools.”

Hill informed the audience she was of the understanding that there were multiple instances at Liberty High School in Peoria, where a young man has been allowed to enter the girls’ bathrooms based on his claim that he identifies as a female. She argued, “the fact that the district has allowed these actions to continue unabated without establishing an accommodation or implementing appropriate consequences is both irresponsible and unfathomable.”

Heather Rooks, Hill’s ally in this issue before the board, agreed with her colleague, stating that she had been dealing with this for months and hearing from parents and girls in the district. Rooks charged that parents were not made aware of the situations of boys in girls’ restrooms, adding, “Every parent in our district has a right to know what we are doing with their kids each day.” She also spoke in defense of the girls who had raised concerns over these alleged instances of boys in their restrooms, making the case that it is not wrong of girls to feel uncomfortable or to use their natural instincts when seeing biological males in women’s restrooms.

A West Valley lawmaker, State Senator Anthony Kern, attended the meeting and shared his thoughts on Twitter following the board’s lack of action to initiate the policy, writing, “Three Democrats on the Peoria Unified board meeting last night voted down protecting girls from predators in girls’ bathrooms.” He included the hashtags “Vote the Democrats Out” and “Home School” as his solutions to this decision from the board.

Republican Tom Horne, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, was closely following this contentious meeting and subsequent outcome, telling AZ Free News his “prediction is that many parents will not want their daughters to attend a school where biological males can come into the girls’ restrooms.” He said he had “received many texts and emails from parents who say their daughters were very upset when this happened.”

After seeing her motion end up on the losing side, Rebecca Hill wasn’t willing to accept defeat on behalf of the girls in her district who may have been – and still may be – faced with encounters with biological males in their restrooms and locker rooms. Hill stated, “I would advise parents to use their vouchers elsewhere. I don’t endorse PUSD anymore. I can’t. I would advise that parents take the ability at this time to take their vouchers, which have been given to them, and use them in private schools, use them on online, home school your kid. Choose the curriculum. Choose what happens with their livelihood, with what is going to happen with them in the future. Public education isn’t going in the right direction. This is not what I want to see for our district.”

Hill’s comments referred to the universal Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA), which were expanded by the Arizona Legislature in 2022 and signed into law by then-Governor Doug Ducey. The program is run under the watchful eyes of Horne at the Arizona Department of Education, and it is rapidly increasing in popularity among Arizonans. In an email communication this past Friday, an ESA Account Holder Liaison wrote that there were now 53,704 Arizona students in this program. That number will continue to grow in the weeks ahead as more parents hear about this program and the opportunities to choose the educational direction for their children.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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