Maine lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve a controversial rule that will expand the role of social workers and guidance counselors in Maine’s public schools.
The rule, known at Chapter 117, is a major substantive rule from the Maine Department of Education, which means it requires additional sign off from the Legislature before it can take effect.
Supporters of the rule argue social workers and guidance counselors are increasingly becoming an important part of Maine’s public schools and their official duties need clarification.
However, parental rights advocates see the rule as an attempt to erode the constitutional rights of parents to control decisions that affect the health and education of their minor children.
Rep. John Andrews (R-Paris) was among the chief Republican opponents to the rule.
At issue is a provision in the proposed rule that would allow certain social workers to engage in “psychosocial evaluation” of students, including diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and emotional disorders.
For many parents, this means the diagnosis of gender dysphoria or gender confusion, which will inevitably lead to social workers counseling students in secret on sex changes and increasing cases of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.
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That concern only grew in December when the Maine Wire reported on a case out of the Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta in which a social worker did just that.
Newcastle mom Amber Lavigne discovered that the school’s social worker, a 26-year-old conditionally licensed UMaine grad student, had provided her daughter with sex change medical devices and counseling without informing her.
That case has resulted in a lawsuit. Lavigne is suing the school district alleging a violation of her constitutional rights.
Opponents of Chapter 117 believe what happened in Damariscotta will become codified as standard operating procedure if the rule is confirmed.
The rule now heads to the State Senate for a vote.