Controversy has divided the Oxford Hills community as the MSAD 17 school board unanimously voted to postpone a decision on a highly discussed gender identity policy.
The proposed policy would allow students to choose how they’re identified and to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.
“The policy was written with the understanding of how critical it is that young people have safe spaces, and that schools should be one of those places,” Oxford Hills alumna Emma Day Branch said.
Some parents claim students could take advantage of the policy.
“I can’t imagine the thought of being a girl, a teenage girl in a bathroom right now wondering who’s beside me,” Armand Norton said.
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Other critics claim it undermines parental rights.
The policy does not require the schools to inform parents how students choose to identify at school.
“I’m a parent in the district. We have three existing policies that cover this under Title IX with regard to bullying and harassment. It’s an open-ended policy you know, it’s pretty heavy handed and it takes away a parent’s right to know,” state Rep. John Andrews said.
“I wish every kid felt safe at home, but some fear for their lives,” Katey Branch said.
About 700 residents of Paris were so upset by this policy they signed a petition to recall the two school board members who proposed it, Julia Lester and Sarah Otterson.
“You’ve got to represent the people that vote for you. You can’t just have your own agenda and expect a whole town to stand behind it,” Norton said.
Supporters of the policy said it is a representation of what people want.
That recall election will be held Jan. 10.
There’s no clear timeline yet on when the school board will vote on the policy.