Maine’s K-12 Transgender Express encountered a speed bump last week just north of Bangor, jarring one of the wheels loose.
There were no reported injuries.
For now, the bus is parked in the breakdown lane, waiting for advice and roadside assistance from its high-priced Portland attorneys.
The mishap occurred in Old Town during the regular monthly meeting of the RSU 34 board of directors on May 16th. At its previous meeting in April, the board gave initial approval to a reckless, irresponsible, pseudo-scientific policy that would allow biological males who claim to be transgender to use the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.
Titled, “Transgender and Gender Expansive Students,” the policy is being peddled to local school districts by the Maine School Management Association, an Augusta-based nonprofit that’s been around since the 1970s lobbying the Legislature on behalf of the bureaucrats who run Maine’s K-12 public schools.
Having cleared the “first reading” hurdle with a unanimous 7-0 vote in April, the gender-bender proposal appeared to be on track to sail to enactment on the second reading last week.
So I was surprised to hear rumors a few days before the May 16 board meeting that the policy proposal might be tabled.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, but it’s still unclear who had second thoughts and why. The tabling motion states that the board wants the policy committee “to explore how other schools in Maine have handled this MSMA-recommended policy.”
During the time reserved for public comment, I urged the board to reject the policy. I cited the circular definition of the term “gender identity” in the Maine Human Rights Act, and the lack of any provision in the MHRA that mandates allowing biological males to relieve themselves in the girls’ restrooms, or shower in the girls’ locker rooms. And I reminded board members that Maine courts have NEVER ruled that public schools must permit students to access whichever restroom they prefer.
Doe v. RSU 24 is the 2014 Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision often cited by attorneys at the Portland-based law firm Drummond Woodsum as a mandate requiring schools to allow students who identify as transgender to use whichever restroom they want. As legal counsel to just about every school district in Maine, the more-than 100 attorneys who work for Drummond Woodsum have outsized influence over school board members who rely on the firm’s legal advice.
To put it bluntly, DW’s lawyers are misrepresenting the court’s decision in Doe v. RSU 24.
The case involved Nicole Maines of Orono, a 12-year-old student with a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a mental disorder. RSU 24 refused to allow the student to use the girls’ restroom, and the parents sued.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a very narrow decision in favor of the student, citing the medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria as the basis for its ruling. Here’s what the court actually said in Roe v. RSU 24 (underline emphasis added):
The determination that discrimination is demonstrated in this case rests heavily on [the student’s] gender identity and gender dysphoria diagnosis, both of which were acknowledged and accepted by the school….Thus, we do not suggest that any person could demand access to any school facility or program based solely on a self-declaration of gender identity or confusion without the plans developed in cooperation with the school and the accepted and respected diagnosis that are present in this case. Our opinion must not be read to require schools to permit students casual access to any bathroom of their choice. Decisions about how to address students’ legitimate gender identity issues are not to be taken lightly.
But the policy Drummond Woodsum is pushing on school districts across Maine specifically states that no medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is necessary. All that’s required is a self-declaration while at school that the student’s “gender identity” is different from the student’s biological sex.
In the words of the proposed policy that was tabled last week in Old Town, for a student to be considered transgender “…does not require a medical diagnosis.”
The good news is that the school board in RSU 34 (Old Town and Bradley) has hit the pause button for now. I would encourage all of the board members – as well as readers of The Maine Wire – to review the expert medical testimony presented by Dr. Alan Bean of Harrison when a similar policy was proposed for the Oxford Hills school district last November.