More than 150 Deer Isle and Stonington residents have signed a letter demanding that local school board member William Shepard immediately resign from his seat over anti-LGBTQ comments he posted on Facebook.
The letter, which includes the names of 157 people and is directly addressed to Shepard, is expected to be presented to the CSD 13 board on Tuesday, Aug. 3, when it meets at 5:30 p.m. at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. The district comprises the two towns, which jointly operate an elementary school and high school located in the town of Deer Isle.
“During the course of your term as a member of the School Board, you have repeatedly used your social media account to disparage and cast judgement on persons based on their sexual orientation,” the letter says. “Harmful and discriminatory language does not foster inclusivity or promote a positive learning environment for our students, school staff, administrators, or volunteers.”
Shepard’s Facebook comments are inconsistent with the board’s policy requiring “ethical and responsible behavior” by board members and set a negative example of cyberbullying and disrespectful use of social media, which is a “fundamental breach” of an elected official’s responsibilities, the letter says.
“For these reasons, we believe you are no longer fit to serve in this capacity as a member of the CSD 13 School Board and we respectfully request that you resign,” it says.
The comments that prompted the letter include Bible references and criticisms of same-sex marriage and celebrating Pride in June, according to Genevieve McDonald, who represents Stonington and other towns in the Maine House of Representatives. According to McDonald, in one Facebook post Shepard allegedly called same-sex marriage a “rape of the natural world.”
McDonald, who shared screenshots of Shepard’s posts with the Bangor Daily News, said she believes Shepard should resign from his post.
“As a parent, I do not want my children to attend a school where the adults in leadership are failing to support the students and are instead contributing to their challenges,” said McDonald, a Democrat.
Contacted early Tuesday afternoon, Shepard declined to comment on the situation, saying only that he has a written statement that he plans to make at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Shepard is a Stonington resident.
Jane Osborne, a Deer Isle resident and chairman of the school board, said Tuesday afternoon that she expects both critics and supporters of Shepard to speak at the board meeting. She said there is no mechanism to remove Shepard from the board, so whether he continues to serve will be entirely up to him.
Osborne declined to comment on the allegations against Shepard.
Shepard was elected to a three-year term on the board in 2020, defeating longtime school board member Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw by one vote, 461-460, according to the Ellsworth American weekly newspaper.