Several incidents involving a transgender, part-time high school tennis coach in Pennsylvania have made some students and parents uncomfortable. And now, the school board is divided on whether to renew the coach’s contract.
Employed at Gettysburg Area School District, the coach was hired as David Yates. Mr. Yates now goes by the name Sasha Yates, and publicly identifies as a transgender woman, according to the Gettysburg Times.
Mr. Yates has been a seasonal boys and girls tennis coach since 2018. Sports news coverage of the Gettysburg tennis team used the name David Yates in 2021, but in 2022, the coach was being called Sasha Yates. The school district’s website lists an email address using the name Sasha, but click on the email address, and the name David appears.
After several incidents involving students, one in the fall of 2022 and another in the spring of 2023, the school board had decided not to rehire Mr. Yates for another season. However, no replacement was hired and, to the surprise of some board members, in July, the name David Yates reappeared on the hiring list for another season of tennis coaching.
A vote on Aug. 7 to rehire or not rehire was deadlocked at 3-3, with one person abstaining. They will vote again on Monday, Aug. 21, in what promises to be a packed school board meeting.
A social media storm has erupted under the assumption that those voting not to rehire are acting simply because of Mr. Yates’ transgender identity. But there is more to the story.
In the fall of 2022, the tennis coach entered the girls’ locker room where the girls soccer team was changing. Mr. Yates changed his clothing too, stripping down to bra and panties, a school board member familiar with the situation told The Epoch Times, adding that students reported that it was clear from what they saw that Mr. Yates was still fully a man.
Two school board members have students on the soccer team and at least one of their students was present when this occurred, the board member said.
At that time, the school board decided not to rehire Mr. Yates. But when the name Sasha Yates was used in the next round of coach hirings, not everyone on the board recognized this as the same person.
During an April 12 softball game at Gettysburg Area High School, Steve Carbaugh’s 16-year old daughter went to use the girls bathroom. Mr. Yates soon followed, and the student found herself alone in the bathroom with the tennis coach. She told her father that Mr. Yates tried to strike up a conversation. The student texted her softball coach from the bathroom as it happened, Mr. Carbaugh told The Epoch Times.
“Michelle, this damn tennis coach just walked into the girls bathroom,” the text she made to her softball coach said. “Like, [expletive] You’re a [expletive] man.”
When Mr. Carbaugh’s daughter told him what happened, he questioned her.
“I asked her if anything transpired or happened, you know, did he try anything? Did he expose himself or anything? She said no. She said, ‘He tried to hold a conversation with me, then I walked out.’” Mr. Carbaugh said.
His daughter told him she was very, very uncomfortable.
He contacted the school to see what they were going to do about it. “As far as I was concerned, they can’t protect my child while in their custody at this point.”
While speaking with school officials about the bathroom incident, Mr. Carbaugh learned that Mr. Yates had been already been reprimanded for another incident in a locker room.
Mr. Carbaugh was also told in April that Mr. Yates would not be rehired for another season of coaching, so he dropped the matter—that is until Mr. Yates ended up on the list of coaches again.
“Now, everybody in this area seems to be crying that it is hate—that nobody wants this guy back because he’s transgender and it’s hate. This has absolutely nothing to do with hate on my part. I don’t care what the guy wants to call himself,” Mr. Carbaugh said. “What’s right is right. What’s wrong is wrong.
“My job as a parent is to protect my child. And he had no business going into that bathroom, and his actions proved that he cannot be trusted. He went into a girls’ locker room and changed while the girls varsity soccer team was in there. They talked to him about it. And he went into a girls’ restroom facility. When is enough enough?” Mr. Carbaugh asked.
“He is not being penalized because of what he calls himself. He needs to be penalized because of his actions and the fact that he can’t follow directions. This is a grown man, going into a bathroom with a juvenile female. That’s a problem. That’s a huge problem.”
Some on the school board wanted to fire Mr. Yates after the bathroom incident, but a solicitor convinced them that, with just a few tennis matches left in the season, it would be better to wait, and just not rehire Mr. Yates for the following season. The concern was, firing over the bathroom incident could position the board to be sued, a school board member told The Epoch Times.
But now that the new season is here, the solicitor has made the same warning, urging the board to rehire Mr. Yates to avoid the risk of litigation. The board has asked to see the paperwork surrounding the locker room and bathroom incidents, ideally before Monday’s vote.
After the bathroom incident, the school gave Mr. Yates permission to use the officials’ locker room, which is used by referees and was told not to go into the girls locker room or restroom, a school board member said.
“The day he came out as being trans, the district should have sat down with him and said, ‘Here are the boundaries,’” a school board member said.