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Maine board members criticized for supporting proposed gender identity policy face recall

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Two members of a Maine school board are at the mercy of voters after a motion for a recall election was recognized at an emergency board meeting on Monday.

Julia Lester and Sarah Otterson are facing a recall effort after nearly 700 community members signed a petition for their removal. The Paris Select Board voted 4-1 to recognize the effort, placing the board members’ futures in the community’s hands.

The two members previously supported the district’s proposed gender identity policy, which caught criticism from parents who claimed the initiative would keep them in the dark about their child’s gender identity and expression.

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The policy, which would apply to students in grades K-12, also outlined students’ pronoun preferences and which locker rooms and bathrooms they would prefer to use at school, according to CBS 13 in Paris, Maine.

“I don’t want boys to be able to go into the girls room, and vice versa, and I have nothing against anybody who wants to live a certain lifestyle, I just don’t care, but I’d be worried if my grandchild was there, my little granddaughter and boys could go into the bathroom,” Paris Select board member Scott McElravy said. 

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Another person in attendance, Aaron Norton, who is behind the petition against Otterson and Lester, echoed complaints that the gender identity policy promoted “secrecy” and hindered parents’ “right to know.”

Last month, the board held an open forum so community members could speak openly on the issue. There, parents accused the schools of pushing for children to live “double lives” and for teachers to “withhold important information from parents,” according to WMTW in Norway, Maine.

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“Our schools should not essentially be promoting children to live a double life, one where they are one person at school and another at home, which can be mentally and emotionally taxing,” parent Terry Brooks said, according to the report.

While many are outraged by the proposed policy, the district claimed the initiative would help protect students belonging to LGBTQ+ by offering a “safe space” for students whose parents oppose their elected gender expression.

Although the proposal passed its first reading, it must pass a second reading before the district can enact it, CBS 13 reported.

Concerned parents have battled local schools in recent months over gender ideology they say has no place in education. 

Many have urged schools to instead focus on academic achievement, particularly in light of recent poor findings in terms of math and reading scores in the Nation’s Report Card.

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