A school district following Maine’s Human Rights Law and providing special accommodations to a 10-year-old with “sexual orientation or gender identification” issues is being accused of discrimination by a man whose grandson is being denied those same accommodations because of his sexual orientation – that of heterosexuality.
The dispute at Asa C. Adams Elementary School in Orono has the school committee on the defense, the grandfather on the march, and the local Bangor News newspaper trying to set rules for “Christian” behavior for the community.
Paul Melanson (Photo courtesy Christian Civic League of Maine)
At the heart of the issue is the treatment being provided an unidentified 10-year-old at the elementary school, according to documentation from the Christian Civic League of Maine.
The organization is reporting Paul Melanson found out his grandson’s school was allowing another boy to use the girl’s restroom, and decided that wasn’t right. He told his grandson to follow the other boy into the girl’s restroom whenever he saw the other boy doing it, and when he did, the boy was confronted by school officials and warned against such behavior, and the grandfather was confronted by police.
However, Melanson responded to those concerns by alleging the school was discriminating against his grandson by depriving him of the accommodations allowed others, simply because of his sexual orientation, an action banned under state law.
League attorney Steve Whiting confirmed Melanson has a point, noting that the state’s “gay” rights law passed in 2005 indicates Melanson’s grandson should be able to use the girl’s bathroom if the school allows another 10-year-old boy to do that.
Now Melanson, whose battle may very well be foreshadowing similar issues that appear to be developing in other parts of the country with similar “gender issues” laws, is vowing to continue the battle.
When the local school committee scheduled five minutes of meeting time for him to present his concerns, he was shut down by officials after three minutes, and left, promising that his lawyer would continue pursuing answers.
His pursuit of answers has been praised by the Civic League, whose executive director, Michael S. Heath, described Melanson’s reasoning as “sound.”
“Nevertheless, he has been told by school administrators, and the local police, that his grandson cannot use the girls’ bathroom. The administration persists [in] allowing only one boy to use the girls’ bathroom at the Asa Adams Elementary School,” Heath wrote. “Mr. Melanson has asked the school board to produce their written policy on bathroom usage by transgendered children, or any children for that matter. While they have not produced a policy for Mr. Melanson they have allowed the intensity of the discrimination against his grandson to increase. Melanson fears the school may expel him.”
Kelly Clenchy, the superintendent for the local Union 87 district, initially told Melanson the “transgendered boy” was only being allowed to use a teacher’s restroom, but Melanson later found that appeared to be incorrect. The acting principal also referred to the student as a “special-needs” child.
But Orono School Committee chairman Robert Swindlehurst told Melanson that the bathroom usage by the “transgendered boy” now is “appropriate.”
The Bangor Daily News editorialized that the Christian Civic League should “have larger concerns than the bathroom practices of an elementary school student” and called the organization “obsessed with sex.”
“The Orono School Committee is to be commended for striving to protect the boy’s identity, and whatever remains of his privacy. And that privacy is at the heart of the matter. The boy’s bathroom needs could stem from a past trauma, a physical disability, a psychological malady, or from gender identification issues, none of which should be disclosed to the public,” the newspaper said.
“It’s likely there are more effective, and certainly more positive ways for the league to be a Christian witness. In these financially difficult times, why doesn’t the league serve as a network, facilitating church volunteers to check on seniors and help shovel out their walkways and drives, help close gaps in leaky doors and windows, offer rides to appointments and donate to heating oil accounts for the poor,” the editorial continued.
But some readers objected.
“If Supt. Clenchy and Chairman Swindlehurst and the so-called Educators of the Asa Adams Elementary School had handled this situation better than the lying and threatening way that they did, then Melanson probably would not have had to take this to the lengths that he has,” suggested Andrea of Mapleton.
“I can’t help but see a bit of the holier than thou attitude coming from both the CVL and the editor of this piece,” added Vernon of Bangor.
Rick, from Houlton, wanted to take the newspaper editorialists to task.
“According to them, Christ-like means to run around and do nice things for people and just stay out of issues that meddle with the feelings of people directly concerned. Since the only way we really know Jesus is through the New Testament, I was wondering, when is the last time you read what it says about Jesus? Have you ever read it? This Jesus was interested in what is right and wrong to the extent that He threw furniture out of the temple, drove people out with a whip and raised the moral tension so much that the leaders nailed Him to a cross. When you encourage the Christian Civic League to be Christ-like, I wonder, is it a Christ of your own making?” he wrote.
A similar issue is developing in Montgomery County, Md., where citizens have launched a petition drive against a law they say essentially would allow people to choose their gender when using public facilities.
“This is a bad law all around and should be repealed,” said Michelle Turner, a spokeswoman for the new group planning to operate under the name Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government.
Its website, Not My Shower, already has been launched.
The new statute was first given the green light by elected officials in Montgomery County and now has been signed into law by County Executive Ike Leggett.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett
“By the stroke of a very powerful pen, County Executive Leggett has broken the biological barriers that separate male and female facilities,” the group announcement said. “No longer will women and girls be able to feel completely safe in the most private and personal bathroom and locker facilities of schools, public pools, malls, stores, health clubs, restaurants and other such public places throughout the county.”
Even Patrick Lacefield, the county’s communications director, told WND that the law does not specifically prevent men who claim to be women or women to claim to be men from using “intimate facilities” such as restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to the sex they happen to choose.
“We do not feel that it was necessary to explicitly state that,” he said.
The plan also could be targeted by a court action, according to officials with an advocacy law firm.
“The definition for ‘gender identity’ is so vague that no individual of ordinary intelligence can possibly know when they are violating Chapter 27,” Robert Tyler, general counsel for the Advocates for Faith & Freedom, told county officials in a letter.
“Pursuant to the definition of ‘gender identity,’ an individual can choose a gender without limitation whatsoever,” he said.
PFOX is engaged in a fight in Montgomery County seeking a court order to halt a public school sex curriculum because it contains “scientifically flawed and politically biased” information.
The organization joined with Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and the Family Leader Network in filing the request for the court-ordered stay of the program targeting middle school and high school students in the district.
The organizations said the local board, headed by Nancy Navarro, adopted the curriculum that teaches anal sex as unexceptional and “intentionally excludes” warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health of the high medical dangers related to those behaviors.
Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, a prominent public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is assisting PFOX and the pro-family groups in their lawsuit against the school board.
The curriculum includes lessons intended for eighth-graders and adopts the language and points of emphasis employed by promoters of homosexuality. Also, 10th-graders will be taught about making announcements that they are homosexual and how to use a condom.