A Maine mom who discovered in December that public school counselors secretly provided her daughter with a breast binder and began using male pronouns to refer to her is suing the school.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, New Castle resident Amber Lavigne alleged that the Great Salt Bay Community School violated her constitutional rights when school employees went behind her back to provide gender transition counseling to her 13-year-old daughter.
The lawsuit alleges school officials “intentionally concealed” the gender counseling from Lavigne.
In doing so, the lawsuit argues that the school deprived Lavigne of her constitutionally protected right to make decisions regarding her daughter’s healthcare.
[RELATED: Public School Worker Who Began Secret Gender Transition on 13-Year-Old Maine Girl Has Conditional License…]
According to the suit, Lavigne’s attorneys seek “a declaration that the Great Salt Bay Community School Transgender Student Guidelines are unconstitutional insofar as they provide for the concealment of, or do not mandate informing parents of, a decision to provide “gender-affirming” care to a student which includes, but is not limited to, the calling of the child by a different name, the referring to the child with pronouns not typically associated with the child’s biological sex, and the giving of garments, including chest binders to flatten breasts, along with instructions for use. This concealment of information is an injury to the Plaintiff caused by Defendants acting under color of state law.”
As previously reported by the Maine Wire, school employees provided Lavigne’s daughter with a breast binder, counseled her on gender transitioning, and began using male pronouns and a male name to refer to her — all without including Lavigne in the decision.
In December, Lavigne discovered the breast binder in her daughter’s bedroom. She would later learn that the binder, which is a device used to flatten the appearance of breasts to make a woman appear as though she is male, was given to her daughter by a social worker at the Great Salt Bay Community School (AOS 93) in Damariscotta.
That social worker was 26-year-old Samuel Roy, then a UMaine grad student with only a conditional license to practice social work in Maine. The lawsuit also names Jessica Berk, an AOS 93 social worker who supervised Roy and knew about the binder.
As a result of the secretive gender counseling she uncovered, Lavigne withdrew her daughter from the public school. The lawsuit also seeks to recover financial damages for the costs Lavigne has incurred to provide an alternative education for her daughter.
Debates are ongoing at several schools in Maine and across the country concerning whether schools can provide gender transition counseling to minor students without informing parents.
In defense of Roy’s secret gender counseling, Damariscotta school officials have insisted in public statements that the school has a legal right to withhold information from parents about gender identity issues.
If Lavigne emerges victorious in the legal challenge, the result could have far-reaching implications for other schools, potentially preventing schools from coaching students into gender transitions without the knowledge of their parents.
School officials in Maine have rationalized policies that exclude parents from gender transition counseling on the basis that some parents might react hostilely if their child asked to switch genders.
But the suit states that Lavigne never gave school officials any reason to believe she would become emotionally or physically abusive toward her daughter if they had informed her about the counseling.
“[Lavigne] has never given Defendants cause to believe that [her daughter] will be harmed in any way by Plaintiff’s knowledge of such facts, nor is there any basis for such a belief. Consequently there is no rational basis for the Defendants’ withholding and concealing such information,” the lawsuit states.
Nonetheless, Lavigne was visited by child welfare agents from Maine’s troubled Office of Child and Family Services shortly after she complained about the secret gender counseling her daughter received.
The child welfare agent who visited Lavigne said there had been an anonymous tip suggesting Lavigne was abusing her daughter, the lawsuit states.
[RELATED: Maine Moms Say School Retaliated With Child Welfare Agents After They Complained About Social Worker’s Gender Counseling…]
Lavigne told the Maine Wire in March that she believed the visit from child services was retaliation against her for speaking out against the school’s secret gender counseling.
School officials have refused to say whether they filed that anonymous complaint.
School officials have also refused to turn over Roy’s notes from counseling sessions, claiming that all students at the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school have a right to privacy.
Lavigne has said her daughter never requested that those notes be kept from her mother.
According to Lavigne, her daughter has said Roy asked her to keep the breast binder a secret, an act that would appear to violate AOS 93 policies, which forbid staff from asking students to keep secrets. But school officials have yet to say whether they believe Roy’s actions violated school policies.
Roy remains an employee at the school and continues to counsel students.
The school hasn’t said who purchased the binder or whether Roy has given similar items to other AOS 93 students.
Lavigne brought her concerns to the AOS 93 Superintendent Lynsey Johnston and Principal Kim Schaff before going public with her story. Although they were initially sympathetic, they eventual broke off communication with Lavigne and circled the wagons around Roy.
At a December school board meeting, Lavigne went public with what happened to her daughter.
The Maine Wire reported on Lavigne’s testimony, setting off a national media firestorm.
Since that time, Johnston, Schaff, and AOS 93 Chair Samuel Belknap III have refused to answer detailed questions from the media about the district’s policy for including parents in gender transitions.
Instead, the school officials have issued vague statements appearing to smear Lavigne and the Maine Wire for reporting on the actions of the school counselor.
The lawsuit Lavigne filed Wednesday names Roy, Berk, Johnston, Schaff, and the entire board — all in their official capacity.
Lavigne is being represented by Bangor attorney Brett Baber of Lanham Blackwell & Baber, P.A.
The conservative Goldwater Institute, a think tank in Arizona, has also joined the case.
You can read the lawsuit here: