Judge hears arguments in lawsuit over Orono school’s treatment of transgender child

BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court judge will decide whether a lawsuit filed by an Orono couple over the local school district’s handling of their transgender child’s transition from male to female will go forward.

Justice William Anderson heard oral arguments on motions for summary judgments Wednesday morning at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

The family, along with the Maine Human Rights Commission, sued the district in November 2009. Defendants in the lawsuit include Kelly Clenchy, the former superintendent of the Orono School District, now Riverside RSU 26, and officials at Asa Adams School.

The family and their child are not identified in the lawsuit but are referred to as the Does. They are seeking damages, claiming the mother and the two children, both identical twin boys, were forced to move to Portland to find a more supportive school environment. The father remained in Orono, where he is employed by the University of Maine.

Last year, Anderson dismissed a portion of the most controversial claim that administrators at Asa Adams School were obligated under the Maine Human Rights Act to allow the transgender child to use the girls bathroom rather than a restroom for staff.

“[T]his ‘accommodation’ claim would impose upon Superintendent Clenchy and the various school entities defending this suit an obligation to accommodate [the child’s] transgender status by allowing her to continue using the girls’ bathrooms consistent with her gender identity,” the judge wrote. “Neither the language of the [Maine Human Rights Act], the language of the [Maine Human Rights Commission’s] own internal regulations, nor prevailing case law interpreting the Civil Rights Act requires this type of accommodation.”

The judge allowed the claim that the school discriminated against the child when she was at Asa Adams School and another seeking damages to go forward. The original complaint has been amended to include other alleged incidents during her year at Orono Middle School.

On behalf of the school district, attorney Melissa Hewey of Portland has denied all the allegations outlined in the amended complaint.

Bennett Klein is the family’s attorney. Klein works for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



Steve  Dosh's picture

Judge hears arguments in lawsuit over L G B T kid . ...

Thanks Jim , 12.09.20 16:10 ? hst
And what if your child was L G B T ( not YOU Jim , lol ;) ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lgbt Love love /s, Steve

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

How old is this so called

How old is this so called 'transgender child'?

Karen Parker's picture


It said that one of the parents works for U of Maine System, Why couldn't they just HOMESCHOOL their Childern at home. That way the girls that were born GIRLs will feel safe going to the BATHROOM at School.

Kristina Gailloux's picture

born that way

I'm pretty sure God makes us whatever gender we are and thats what we are suppose to be...if he wanted a boy to be a girl, it'd be born a girl and vice versa...it's just kinda silly...if a boy wants to play with girls stuff or wear it, whatever, but don't change their body because of it. Some parents are just crazy.

Roger Moulton's picture

How do you check the sex of an animal?

Ever had a litter of puppies? What's the first thing you check for to know it's sex? Oh it's "parts". We don't say oh this one gives a lot of love doesn't like to wrestle with the boys, lets remove his "parts" and add girl parts and sell it for an extra $100 as a female. Your child is a BOY. HE was born a boy and may have feminine tendencies but he's still a boy. Does his body produce testosterone? I bet it does.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great post; well stated.

Great post; well stated.

Roger Moulton's picture

just watched the video

Just watched the video. And "she wanted to be treated like all the other girls", well sorry she IS NOT LIKE the other girls. And unless they robbed her of a bathroom I don't see any discrimination or wrong doing. Again you can't force everyone to accept you. I'm a jerk and 95% of people that read this can't accept that I'm a jerk and you know what I'M OKAY WITH THAT, because I'm okay with me, and if you aren't look at yourself not EVERYBODY else. And they excluded her from that bathroom because her darn parts aren't the same THATS WHY. I would normally make a comment about the intelligence of the attorney here but he makes tons of money off cases like this so maybe I'm the dummy.

Roger Moulton's picture

Are you kidding me?

Know I don't understand the whole transgender thing I just don't. However my daughter plays with a 5 year old boy who prefers girls toys/clothes and really I think would rather be a girl if he had the choice. So the whole "born that way" might be valid, HOWEVER! You are absolutely insane if you think your child born a boy should be allowed in a females restroom. Unfortunately for your child the only fair thing to do would be to allow him/her whatever to use a staff bathroom. If they allowed him/her to enter the females bathroom, there would be little perverted boys that claimed to be transgender just to gain access to the girls bathroom. Use common sense. How many times do you think the school has encountered such a thing? Do you really think it's fair to sue them, which by the way dummies there money comes from taxpayers, just because they handled this to what they thought was(and I completely agree with) the best way to handle it. People like he/she's parents and the lawyers representing them need to go away, which they will probably do once they (in my opinion) rob the school district and taxpayers because of their sons unusual problem. And it is unusual to all who will call me insensitive for that comment. Unusual is not a negative word it simply means different which also is not always a bad thing either. Accept your own differences and realize that others will have to take time to accomodate you and some may not choose to accept or accomodate you period. Sounds to me like your son/daughter and you as parents haven't really accepted your childs difference. And for that you deserve money? Please.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...