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AUGUSTA, Maine – The issue over whether schools in Maine will be required to allow “transgender” students to pick which restroom – boys or girls – they feel like using is prompting another look at the state law on which the restroom dispute rests: the Maine Human Rights statute of 2005.
Their own lawyer told commission members requiring all students to use “biology-based” restrooms and locker rooms in the state’s schools is illegal and cannot be allowed to continue.
“Schools cannot discriminate against sexual identity or gender identification. Schools therefore cannot segregate students based on sexual orientation and identity,” commission legal counsel John Gause said yesterday.
Now Maine pro-family activists say the vote to delay a decision is a smokescreen and they are aiming higher than just stopping the guidelines. They want a repeal of the Human Rights statute.
Steve Martin is the host of the Aroostock Watchmen Radio Program and he’s hoping the people of Maine will notice what the commission legal counsel is saying and take action in the fall.
“Hopefully the people will hear what the commissioners are saying and rise up and vote out the officials who put these unelected people into their positions. I’m hopeful that the people will put people back in the Maine state legislature who support decency and common sense,” Martin said.
Paul Madore of the Maine Grassroots Coalition said the public meeting and any future public hearings are to make the people think they’re being heard.
“We have to keep in mind that the proposed guidelines were mostly drafted by
radical homosexual organizations. The commission sought the input of these radical homosexual groups on purpose and there was no impartial and objective source of information,” Madore said.
“So the future hearing is a dog and pony show to create a lot of communication confusion,” Madore said.
Martin agreed that any public hearing will be for public appearance.
Listen to an interview with Steve Martin:
“The legal counsel’s statements that the proposed guidance is already being used is evidence that this process is window dressing,” Martin said.
“They want to show that the public was listened to, but they’re not going to listen to us unless we ratchet up the pressure in other ways,” Martin said.
There even are questions on the commission itself.
Commissioner Kenneth Fredette believes the consequences for opening public restroom facilities to people of the opposite biological gender is one that hasn’t been considered.
“It’s a very emotional issue and the statute that was passed by the legislature and affirmed by the voters of the state of Maine was done very broadly and what they’re doing is trying to figure out what the statute means,” Fredette said.
“It was a poorly worded statute that the people of Maine voted on back in 2005,” Fredette said.
Fredette also believes the people of Maine likely didn’t foresee transgendered restroom use as a result of the statute and that the commissioners pushing the guidance are not likely to be the ones to live with the results.
“The consequence is to be borne by other people who are in the bathroom. My
daughter might be shocked by the experience of having someone who is
biologically a male come into the bathroom while she is in the process of using the bathroom,” Fredette said.
“I don’t know how that will affect her and I don’t think we need to be putting students at risk for that kind of a situation,” Fredette said.
Listen to an interview with Ken Fredette:
Fredette believes that the commission is involved in lawmaking and that lawmaking isn’t the commission’s function.
“The commission shouldn’t go anywhere from this point because this is an issue that is more properly addressed by the Maine legislature,” Fredette said.
“We are talking about an issue that is going to affect every school in Maine and every student in Maine. That’s more properly addressed by those people we’ve elected or by the people of the state of Maine, not five unelected commission members,” Fredette said.
Madore believes that the possible April or May public hearing is mostly for show, but Maine’s parents and families still have an option open to them.
“I think that a lot of what happens depends on the people. However, I think that eventually the effort to stop the implementation of these radical policies is to campaign for a repeal of the 2005 law. We have to take direct aim at that law,” Madore said.
Martin agrees that repealing the 2005 law is the best course of action.
“It may come to that. We have no other course of action to take but to repeal the 2005 law,” Martin said.
“We think the support of the people of Maine is out there and that the people are willing to put themselves on the line and repeal these laws,” Madore said.
The current push started over the commission decision last year that found a school in Orono, Asa Adams School, discriminated against a boy by denying him access to the girls’ restroom.
The ripples from the ruling now are being felt. According to documents obtained in the state, the University of Maine already is expressing alarm.
A letter from the university office of equal opportunity noted, “There will likely be cases in which allowing a transgender student to participate in gender-segregated sports in accordance with the gender identity or expression will raise legitimate concerns about fairness in competitive interscholastic sports. …”
The letter pointed out “unintended consequences,” such as “a transgendered individual’s participation on a gender-segregated team could result in the NCAA’s treating that team as a mixed team. This would have a number of serious consequences including potentially impacting the institution’s compliance with Title IX.”
Currently, Colorado, Iowa, Washington state, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco have rules, policies or laws dealing with transgender restroom accommodations. The Maine rules would make Maine the first state in the U.S. to adopt the policies for elementary and secondary school students and the first to extend the rules to private and sectarian schools.
This is not the first time the argument has arisen. WND previously reported when the city council of Tampa, Fla., voted unanimously to include “gender identity and expression” as a protected class under the city’s human rights ordinance, leading some to fear the council has opened the city’s public bathroom doors to sexual predators masquerading as protected transsexuals.
A statement from the American Family Association explained, “Tampa Police arrested Robert Johnson in February 2008 for hanging out in the locker room–restroom area at Lifestyle Fitness and watching women in an undressed state. The City of Tampa’s ‘gender identity’ ordinance could provide a legal defense to future cases like this if the accused claims that his gender is female.”
WND also reported on a similar plan adopted by fiat in Montgomery County, Md., which opponents said would open up women’s locker rooms to men who say they are women.
The issue also has come up in Colorado, where Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law a plan that effectively strikes gender-specific restrooms in the state.
And city officials in Kalamazoo, Mich., only weeks after adopting a “perceived gender” bias plan, abandoned it in the face of massive public opposition.