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Maine School Hides ‘Gender Transition’–Goldwater Stands Up for Mom

February 6, 2023

Maine mom Amber Lavigne is demanding answers: a public school not only kept her 13-year-old daughter’s “gender transition” a secret, but also encouraged the child not to tell her parents—all in violation of the Constitution. Now the Goldwater Institute is stepping in to hold the Great Salt Bay Community School accountable.

When Amber came across a chest binder—an undergarment used to flatten breasts—in her daughter’s belongings this past December, she was alarmed and immediately began to investigate where the binder came from. 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.

Amber contacted school officials, only for administrators to defend 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 is unacceptable: a school employee secretly encouraged my daughter to change her gender and hide it from me,” Amber says. “The school never stopped trying to keep me in the dark at every turn, repeatedly stonewalling me when I tried to find out what was going on. My parental rights aren’t up for debate: I deserve to know what’s happening to my child in school.”

Now the Goldwater Institute is defending Amber’s parental rights, demanding the school board investigate the counselor’s actions and calling 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. This includes attempts to “socially transition” children or provide them with chest binders.


The school’s actions toward Amber and her daughter aren’t just wrong—they’re unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has consistently held that parents have a fundamental right to control and direct the education, upbringing, and healthcare decisions of their children. The Court has upheld this right against bans on teaching certain languages, bans on private schools, and compulsory attendance laws—and it’s even held that parents have an absolute right to restrict visitation from their child’s grandparents. In other words, parental rights are broad and tolerate only those intrusions that are completely necessary to protect the health and safety of children, like laws against child labor.

But across the country, activist educators think they know better than parents. Even the New York Times recently admitted that schools are encouraging student gender transitions “without parental consent,” and that “parents of all political persuasions have found themselves unsettled by what schools know and don’t reveal.”

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.

Whether it’s matters of health or questions about their children’s curriculum, public school districts should never hide things from parents. That’s why the Goldwater Institute is fighting to empower moms and dads to make decisions that best meet their children’s needs—and standing up for parents like Amber.

You can read our demand letter here.

Adam Shelton is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute.



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