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Maine Mom Sues School Board for Hiding Child’s ‘Gender Transition’

April 5, 2023

When Maine mom Amber Lavigne found out that her 13-year-old daughter’s public school had kept the child’s “gender transition” a secret and encouraged the middle schooler not to tell her parents, Amber demanded answers. But officials refused to engage in open dialogue, so yesterday the Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit on Amber’s behalf against the Great Salt Bay Community School Board for violating her constitutionally protected parental rights.

Amber was alarmed when she came across a chest binder—an undergarment used to flatten breasts—in her daughter’s belongings this past December. She immediately began to investigate where the binder came from, but what the Newcastle mom discovered shocked her: a school social worker who Amber’s daughter began seeing in October gave the child the chest binder and had secretly been advising her about gender transitioning. Making matters worse, the social worker told Amber’s daughter the school wasn’t going to inform her parents about any of it, and that the girl didn’t need to do so either.

When Amber contacted school officials, the administrators tried justifying the counselor’s actions. In fact, school personnel had already been referring to Amber’s daughter with a different name and different pronouns, effectively “socially transitioning” her in secret.

“This was no accident: my daughter’s public school counselor deliberately tried to keep me in the dark, encouraging my daughter’s gender transition and encouraging her to hide it from me,” Amber says. “When school officials found out, they actually defended the counselor’s actions, trampling on my constitutional rights at every turn. I deserve to know what’s happening to my child—the secrecy needs to stop.”

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held, over the last century, that parents have a fundamental right to control and direct the education, upbringing, and healthcare decisions of their children,” adds Goldwater Institute Staff Attorney Adam Shelton, lead attorney on the case. “But parents cannot meaningfully exercise this right if public schools hide vital information about their children from them—which is exactly what the Great Salt Bay Community School did to Ms. Lavigne.”

In February, the Goldwater Institute demanded the school board investigate the counselor’s actions and called on the school to adopt a policy requiring it—at a minimum—to inform parents of any decision that affects their children’s mental health or physical wellbeing. But the school board has not only refused to engage with Goldwater on these commonsense demands; it’s continued to release statements claiming that all policies and laws were followed. Today, Goldwater filed suit in federal court against the school board, the counselor who gave Amber’s daughter the chest binder, and several other school officials for violating the U.S. Constitution by keeping Amber in the dark.

Across the country, activist educators who think they know best are putting themselves between parents and children and attempting to replace parents as the primary raisers of their children. Just last month, for instance, the Goldwater Institute filed a brief in support of a mom and dad in Massachusetts who are suing their school district for deliberately hiding their two pre-teen children’s “gender identity.”

Public school secrecy goes beyond gender transitions, too. In states like Rhode Island and Texas, Goldwater is helping concerned parents get the answers they deserve after school districts charged them thousands of dollars in public records fees to find out what’s going on in their kids’ schools.

Public schools should never hide things from parents—whether it’s curriculum content or matters of health. That’s why Goldwater Institute is standing up for parents like Amber and empowering moms and dads nationwide to make informed decisions about what’s best for their children.

You can read our lawsuit here, and read more about the case here.



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