A Damariscotta mom demanded the resignation of several public school officials at a school board meeting Wednesday following her discovery that a school social worker had begun secretly transitioning her 13-year-old daughter’s gender.
In an emotionally charged address to the school board, Amber Lavigne said a Central Lincoln County School System (CLCSS) social worker at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta provided a chest binder to her daughter — a gender transitioning device the employee encouraged the young girl to keep secret from her parents.
Lavigne said she’d never met the social worker — Samuel Roy — and had no idea school employees were secretly working to put her daughter on the path to gender transition. Other officials in the school also participated in the young girl’s social transition, using masculine pronouns to address her.
Chest binders are medical devices used to flatten the appearance of breasts in females who are uncomfortable with the appearance of their chest. The devices can cause back pain, skin irritation, infections, and exacerbate underlying health conditions even when worn properly.
In adults, the devices typically require proper fitting and regular breaks. Advocates for sex-change surgeries as a treatment for gender dysphoria see chest benders as a stepping stone to eventual double mastectomies, a surgery that removes healthy breast tissue.
Lavigne said she was aware that her daughter was seeing a social worker in the school system, but that her daughter had been reassigned to a new social worker in October. She was never told about Roy, the new social worker, and Roy never contacted her. She said the chest binder was provided less than two weeks after her daughter first met Roy.
Although school administrators initially expressed alarm when Lavigne confronted them about what had happened, she later learned that no school system employee, including Roy, will lose their job over the plan to secretly gender transition a 13-year-old student.
She said her daughter turned 13 a month before the social worker started the clandestine plan.
The Maine Wire placed multiple phone calls and sent multiple emails to various CLCSS school officials; none of them responded to our inquiries.
Superintendent Lynsey Johnston, who started in her role in July, did not responded to multiple requests for comment.
An email sent to every member of the school board was acknowledged by board member Jesse Butler. In a short response, Butler said he was referring the inquiry to Sam Belknap of Damariscotta, the board chair.
Belknap did not respond to subsequent phone and email inquiries.
“Under no circumstances should she have been provided a chest binder without the knowledge of her parents,” Lavigne said to the school board.
She said the school will not release notes from the meetings with either Roy, or the first social worker, Jessica Allen-Fumarola.
“A social worker at the school encouraged a student to keep a secret from her parents,” she said. “This is the very definition of child predatory sexual grooming. Predators work to gain a victims’ trust by driving a wedge between them and their parents.”
Video posted online by parental rights advocate Shawn McBreairty shows a visibly upset Lavigne addressing a stone-faced panel of school board officials.
Chris Coleman of Nobleboro, a 4th grade teacher at Great Salt Bay Community School, one of the schools in the district, spoke immediately after Lavigne.
Coleman construed criticism of the district’s gender policies, including support for gender transitions like the one experienced by Lavigne’s daughter, as an attack on students.
He said teachers’ number one priority is the safety of students.
“I’m here because members of our community, and perhaps some from afar, have decided that our transgender students do not deserve to feel safe at school,” he said.
He said the term “groomer” was insulting for teachers.
Maine school officials have in the past denied providing gender-transitioning equipment like chest binders to public school students of any age.
At a meeting of the Maine School Management Association (MSMA) on October 28, outgoing Superintendent of the York Public Schools Lou Goscinski dismissed the notion that schools would provide such medical devices to kids.
The MSMA is a quasi-governmental association that represents and advises school boards.
“There’s a perception out there that we’re giving out gender altering equipment to students. Fallacy. Just garbage,” Goscinski told the meeting.
“Doesn’t happen,” he said. “I don’t give out gender affirming equipment to heterosexual students. I don’t give out bras, I don’t give out underwear.”
Goscinski made those remarks as part of a MSMA speech entitled “Surviving a Book Challenge,” a presentation that walked public school officials through how to defend the inclusion of obscene materials in class rooms.
School policies concerning human sex and sexuality have became cultural flashpoints all across Maine, as school districts and parents debate what role, if any, modern theories about gender and sexuality should play in classrooms and guidance counselors’ offices from elementary schools to high schools.
In the Oxford Hills School District, two school board members face a recall election after they advanced an unpopular policy that would require district employees to keep secrets about students’ mental health secret from parents.
Had the policy passed, a school employee who learned that a student was experiencing gender dysphoria or gender confusion would not be allowed to tell a parent about it without the consent of the student.
The policy even required school employees to coach students on how to avoid making changes to their official school records that might allow parents to inadvertently discover a gender transition enabled by the school.
That policy was indefinitely postponed after massive resistance from parents, many of whom feared precisely the scenario Lavigne’s family has gone through.
Lavigne has pulled her daughter from the school system as a result of the school’s attempt to begin a covert gender transition, and she says her daughter is ultimately happier now that her parents discovered the chest binder, as keeping the school’s secret was causing her stress and anxiety.
“I demand that all employees who had knowledge of this secret be immediately terminated from their positions at AOS and that our child’s records be released to us,” she said.
“Laws, policies, and parental trust were broken,” she said. “No other parent should have to go through the trauma and distress this has caused my family.”
In a phone interview, Lavigne said she would not be commenting further on the matter until she had an opportunity to consult with an attorney to consider taking legal action against AOS 93.