An elite all-girls school in Nashville that planned to open enrollment to anyone who identifies as female has rescinded the policy following a backlash from parents and alums.
Officials from Harpeth Hall, a $33,000-a-year private school in Tennessee, sent a letter to students and parents saying it will continue to only ‘serve girls and young women’ following criticism over plans to include transgender students, WSMV reported.
‘We recognize that this philosophy elicited strong reactions of support and opposition beyond our expectations,’ the school leaders wrote.
‘Based on the response from our school community, the Harpeth Hall Board of Trustees is choosing to pause the adoption of the philosophy in order to engage a wider audience in continued discussion.’
The decision came after more than 1,000 stakeholders signed a letter in opposition to the policy, saying the school failed to ‘think critically’ when it proposed ‘changing a long-standing 155-year policy of accepting applications from only the female sex.’
Harpeth Hall, a $33,000-a-year private school in Tennessee, rescinded a proposed policy to include transgender women following backlash from parents and alums
More than 1,000 stakeholders signed a letter in opposition to the policy, saying the school failed to ‘think critically’ when it proposed the change to the all-female school
The opposition has specifically called out the school’s board chair, Crissy Wieck (right), saying the administration has lost the parents’ confidence to lead
In a letter to Crissy Wieck, the board chair, and other school officials, concerned parents, alumni and donors to the school accused administrators of being ‘more focused on political activism than educating’ the students.
‘We want to give our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends an educational environment where they can learn how to think, not what to think,’ the letter read.
The group also called for the resignation of Weick and members of the school’s Executive Committee, Jessica Bliss and Dr. Nancy Beveridge, and demanded the school put up a replacement of the group’s choice on the board.
‘Based on how you have handled this recent gender policy communication, we do not have confidence that certain current members of the board or of the administration are capable of correcting this issue.
‘We do this not out of anger, but out of concern for the past, present, and future of Harpeth Hall.’
Bliss, the school’s director of communications, said the policy was only meant to be an internal philosophy for faculty, students, and parents that was suggested after one pupil came forward asking to use they-them pronouns.
‘That philosophy is being misinterpreted by some as a change in the admission policies at Harpeth Hall,’ Bliss told The Tennessean. ‘We are and always have been an all-girls independent school.’
The school has said that no transgender girls have applied to Harpeth Hall.
Harpeth Hall did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The opposition group sent a letter to the board calling for the resignations and for a female leader of their choice to replace the board chair
The new policy came after school administration, faculty, and the Board of Trustees’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee came together to better understand gender identity.
The team consulted with field experts, read educational articles about the topic, and spoke with other all-girls schools before deciding to expand its gender diversity philosophy policy.
The letter to parents provided brief guidelines about admissions but used open-ended language and emphasized an individual basis for enrollment decisions.
‘Harpeth Hall is a girls school,’ the letter stated. ‘The school culture is unique and distinctly about girls, complete with the use of references to students as girls and young women and a collective use of female pronouns.’
The document went on to say that students join the school because the mission and women-centric environment resonate with them.
In cases of nonbinary students or those who use they/them pronouns will be addressed on an individual basis, the school said. Harpeth Hall will work with individual families to meet students’ needs.
The policy also noted that a male trans student using he/him pronouns cannot be ‘served’ by an all-girls school. The institution would work directly with those families to determine the next steps.
‘We see this acknowledgment as the ultimate form of respect: an understanding that we support the individual and the student’s gender identity,’ the statement said regarding male transgender students at the school.
The school said its decision to open enrollment to all people who identify as female emphasizes the institution’s commitment to fostering an ‘inclusive educational environment’
In cases of nonbinary students or those who use they/them pronouns will be addressed on an individual basis, the school said. The policy also noted that a male trans student using he/him pronouns cannot be ‘served’ by an all-girls school
More than 1,200 people signed a petition in support of a new gender philosophy policy
Along with the wave of opposition, the school has also received support over the now rescinded policy as a petition in favor of trangender inclusion has received more than 1,200 signatures online as of Friday night.
‘We are alumnae, parents, and community members of Harpeth Hall, and we support the vision for a Harpeth Hall that’s inclusive and nurturing of all girls,’ the petition reads.
‘We believe trans girls are deserving of the same opportunities and respect as cis girls.
‘So we support the spirit of the initial philosophy put forth and trust in the administration to make the best choice if or when the hypotheticals posed knock at the door.’
The debate at Harper Hall comes a month after a new state law went into effect banning transgender athletes from participating in girls sports.
The bill, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Lee, went into effect on July 1 and adds harsh penalties against public schools who violate the ban.