Portland School District May Bypass Parents In Maine

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The Portland, Maine School District may move to take the usurpation of parental authority to a new level. “The Portland school board is poised to adopt one of the state’s most comprehensive transgender student policies, one that goes beyond the ‘bathroom issue’ by requiring staff training, using a student’s preferred name and personal pronoun, and taking the student’s side at school if there is disagreement with a parent’s wishes,” Noel K. Gallagher writes in The Portland Press Herald. “The changes will make Portland one of the first few school districts in the state to adopt policies surrounding transgender students.”

“Superintendent Xavier Botana said the district decided to act after the Trump administration withdrew in February the Obama-era guidelines that included gender identity under Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools.”

The outcome of this vote, of course, is, as yet, unknown. Nevertheless, given recent developments in Maine, odds might favor its passage. The Press Herald lays out some of these innovations:

“1. Maine state anti-bullying law: Passed in 2012 and signed by Gov. Paul LePage, this law forbids bullying and cyberbullying, including for gender identity and expression.

“2. Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling: The outcome of the Nicole Maines case, this January 2014 ruling was the first time a U.S. court decided that it is unlawful to force a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the sex he or she was born with rather than the one with which the child identifies.

“3. Maine Human Rights Commission guidance: In the wake of the 2014 Maine ruling, the Maine Human Rights Commission issued guidance last January to reflect its interpretation of the ruling related to the Maine Human Rights Act. It says schools should allow a student with a ‘sincerely held’ gender identity to be recognized in all ways as that gender, including using bathrooms, playing sports, being addressed by a preferred name and pronoun, and being allowed to dress as preferred. It also states that the school should abide by the wishes of the student while at school, even if the student’s parent or legal guardian disagrees. LePage stopped rulemaking on this guidance, saying the Legislature should pass a law before regulations are imposed.

“4. Maine Principals’ Association: In 2013, the Maine Principals’ Association adopted rules to allow high school students to play on teams that match their gender identity. Maine was the fourth state in the nation to adopt such a transathlete policy.

“5. Maine Department of Education: The agency issued guidance to all school districts after passage of the 2012 anti-bullying law that included references to gender identity and expression.”