Parents & students stand up for trans tennis coach targeted by Moms for Liberty for firing

Author: Greg Owen

In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, parents are fighting back against an effort led by the local Moms for Liberty member to fire a beloved tennis coach who is trans.

Sasha Yates has coached the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams at Gettysburg Area High School since 2018. She came out as trans in 2021.

On Monday, August 21, over 200 residents showed up to the Gettysburg Area School District board meeting after two previous attempts to push Yates out of her job failed

The effort to sack Yates has been led by school board member Michelle Smyers, who also serves as chair of the local Moms for Liberty chapter.

Smyers claims district officials are impeding her effort to collect evidence against Yates by denying her access to Yates’ employment records and has hired far-right defense fund America First Legal, headed by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, to represent her.

Of 30 speakers addressing the board on that Monday night, all but four spoke in favor of the coach.

“Coach Yates is one of a very, very few people who got me through that high school experience,” said Chelsea Zimmann, who graduated from Gettysburg in 2021, and described Yates as “one of the most important people that has happened to me in my life, and without her I may not be standing here today.”

Parent Paul Kellett, a supervisor in nearby Freedom Township, told the board, “If you are concerned about protecting kids, have role models they can look up to.”

Kellett and others made reference to Smyers’ anti-LGBTQ+ Facebook posts, including one diatribe describing transgenderism as a “social contagion” and a “cult.” 

“I have yet to hear any legitimate reason for not renewing Ms. Yates’ contract,” said Lance Windish, a father of two in the district. “What I have heard is testimonials of people whose lives she has touched and changed and strengthened as an educator.”

The official reason behind consideration of Yates’ removal is shrouded in secrecy, with the board claiming they are barred from public discussion of a “personnel issue.”

According to Yates, in 2022 she received a letter from school administrators after complaints she had changed clothes in front of students in the girls’ locker room.

The letter also detailed allegations that Yates had asked students “about menstrual cycles and preferred underwear styles.”

Yates told PennLive that she thought those concerns had been addressed and resolved in a series of meetings with administrators.

Since then, both the high school’s principal and athletic director have recommended Yates’ coaching contract be renewed for the current season.

On Monday night, the board voted to remove consideration of Yates’ contract from their agenda. Moms for Liberty chair Smyers was among those voting in favor.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County established that firing an individual based on their transgender identity violates federal Title VII employment protections.

Exactly why the Gettysburg school board hasn’t renewed Yates’ contract could run afoul of that ruling.

The board is effectively firing Yates “by attrition,” said Jason Landau Goodman, an attorney and board chair for the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group.

“Unless the school board finds a new path, they have likely just committed themselves to a year or more of intensive and very long meetings and likely litigation, which they will surely lose and cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars,” said Goodman.

The lawyer attended Monday’s meeting alongside Yates.

Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Greg Owen

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