In a recent turn of events in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the local community has been embroiled in a passionate battle over the employment of Sasha Yates, a beloved tennis coach who came out as transgender in 2021.
Parents and supporters gathered at a Gettysburg Area School District board meeting on August 21, voicing their unwavering support for Coach Yates, who has been coaching both girls’ and boys’ tennis teams at Gettysburg Area High School since 2018.
Led by school board member Michelle Smyers, who also chairs the local Moms for Liberty chapter, the effort to remove Coach Yates from her position has sparked outrage within the community. Smyers has enlisted the help of the far-right defense fund America First Legal, led by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, in her campaign to oust Coach Yates.
Despite these efforts, the overwhelming majority of the community is firmly behind Coach Yates. During the board meeting, 30 speakers addressed the issue, with all but four passionately advocating for the coach. Many former students and parents attested to Coach Yates’ positive impact on their lives and the importance of having role models like her in the school system.
The reasons behind the consideration of Coach Yates’ removal remain shrouded in secrecy, with the board citing it as a “personnel issue.” However, accusations in a letter from 2022, alleging inappropriate behavior, including changing clothes in front of students and discussing personal matters, have been a point of contention. Despite these allegations, the high school’s principal and athletic director have recommended renewing Coach Yates’ coaching contract for the current season.
This case raises questions about potential violations of federal Title VII employment protections, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Bostock v. Clayton County decision of 2020. Attorney Jason Landau Goodman, chair of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, warns that the school board’s actions could lead to costly litigation and a protracted legal battle if they continue down this path. As the community rallies behind Coach Yates, the situation in Gettysburg remains a focal point in the ongoing struggle for transgender rights and equality in education.