The Oxford Hills school board provisionally approved new rules for the district on Monday that will require school officials to withhold information about changes to a child’s “gender identity” from parents.
The proposed rules will also require school officials to coach students on how to keep details of gender identity changes secret from parents by avoiding official paperwork that would trigger record changes, thereby opening up the information for parental inspection as allowed under federal law.
The new policy includes the following (emphasis added):
“In case of a student who has not yet informed their parent(s)/guardian(s), the administrator shall first discuss parent/guardian involvement with the student to avoid inadvertently putting the student at risk by contacting their parent(s)/guardian(s). The student shall be notified by the administrator prior to contacting their parent(s)/guardian(s). Parent notification shall be contingent on student approval with the exception of school records accessed and disclosed under FERPA.”
In other words, the new policy will require teachers and school officials to withhold from parents information that may suggest the child is developing gender dysphoria or a non-dysphoria-related desire to augment their primary or secondary sex characteristics.
The privacy section of the policy explicates how information about a student’s shifting gender identity can and can’t be shared.
“The student’s plan shall be kept confidential and shared only with individuals attending the plan development meeting, the Superintendent, others with a bona fide need to know, and, if necessary, the District’s legal counsel,” the policy states.
Parents and guardians may or may not be a part of drafting such plans, depending on the desires of the student.
The policy also requires that school officials coach students on how best to keep any gender transition-related information secret from their parents.
In the section on school records, the policy requires school officials to advise students that certain changes to official records may create the opportunity for parents to discover inadvertently gender identity plans developed in secret with school officials.
“If a student requests a change to their name and/or gender in school records without parental approval, the Superintendent shall be consulted and the matter resolved on a case-by-case basis. Students shall be informed that parents/guardians have a right to access all education records of their child and therefore the school cannot keep the change in name and/or gender a secret. This information shall be discussed in the development of the student’s plan,” the policy states.
In other words, when school officials are discussing a student’s gender transition in the absence of parents, the new policy will require school officials to instruct the student that official name or gender changes might lead parents to discover what has happened behind closed doors. (This aspect of the policy seems to have eluded a reporter who covered the meeting for the Lewiston newspaper.)
The gender identity policy also permits students to use whatever restroom or locker room is consistent with their most recent gender identity.
If adopted, the policy would apply to all schools in MSAD 17, including eight Prek-6 elementary schools, Oxford Hills Middle School, and the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.
The policy does not distinguish between the cases of elementary school students versus middle and high school students.
The following school board members approved the first reading of the policy: Mark Heidmann of Harrison, Jared Cash and Kelly Jacobson, both of Norway, Anna Gregoire and Diana Olsen, both of Otisfield, Shauna Broyer and Gary Smith, both of Oxford; Sarah Otterson and Julia Lester, both of Paris, Judy Green and Kitty Winship, both of Waterford, and Natalie Andrews of West Paris.
The following members voted against approving the new policy: Rose Lacasse of Harrison; Lew Williams and Amanda Fearon, both of Hebron, Peter Wood of Norway, Lisa Dunham of Oxford, and Jennifer Russell and Robert Jewell, both of Paris.
There will be another discussion and vote on the policy at a later meeting.
You can read the Oxford Hills school system’s provisional policy on gender identity here: