Riley Colby, a transgender woman, spoke along with other members of the community group Equity Buckfield at the RSU 10 board of directors meeting Monday at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. Colby said she “could have avoided many traumas throughout my younger life, as well as adulthood, had all of us been better informed, supported and validated in our schools.” Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

BUCKFIELD — About two dozen members of the RSU 10 community attended the board of directors meeting Monday at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School where some expressed their dismay about comments made during the public comments portion of the prior board meeting on March 14 at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.

During the March 14 meeting, RSU 10 community member Heather MacDonald spoke out about her “concerns over the increased violence, racism and sexual harassment and the use of the gender unicorn” at the schools. She read her statement addressing concerns about “implementation of (Critical Race Theory) in this district,” and that a Social Emotional Learning class “is the delivery system being used for CRT.”

Following MacDonald’s comments at the meeting, community member Carol Daigle said, “I learned about the gender unicorn, and I cannot express my alarm at involving such a thing with children, not just children, but other people’s children, not yours, not the school system’s, other people’s. I am horrified that my tax dollars are paying for such things.”

During Monday’s board of directors meeting at BJSHS, three members of Equity Buckfield, a community committee, spoke in disagreement with the prior women’s comments.

Riley Colby, a transgender woman, told the board of directors that she attended BJSHS from seventh to 12th grade. Colby said she grew up “with no representation, support or validation,” and she experienced depression and social anxiety as well as thoughts of suicide by her freshman year in high school.

“Queer kids are bullied because their peers don’t understand them,” Colby said. “One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm, the absence of empathy and understanding is sufficient.


“I could have avoided many traumas throughout my younger life as well as adulthood had all of us been better informed, supported and validated in our schools. I am grateful to RSU 10 and the Equity Committee for the steps taken toward supporting kids like me,” Colby said.

Everett Tilton from Buckfield read a statement on behalf of the BJSHS Civil Rights team, saying, in part, “The BJSHS civil rights team supports students, staff and community members, no matter their race and skin color, national origin and ancestry, religion, disability, gender, including gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.”

Cory Nicholson, another member of Equity Buckfield and Tracy Bullecks of Hartford also spoke, asking the board of directors “to condemn hateful words like those we heard two weeks ago,” said Nicholson and to “heed your own policy in ensuring that these students are guaranteed the right to an atmosphere of learning free of bias and prejudice,” said Bullecks.

Also, Clarissa Fish, the director of Special Services and a member of the RSU 10 Equity Committee, gave a presentation regarding an online Belonging and Inclusion summit for students in grades 5 to 12 scheduled for March 30.

Fish began by reading a mission statement for the Equity Committee, saying: “At RSU 10, it is our collective responsibility to create and maintain a safe space for all students, families and staff. We are committed to elevating marginalized voices in order to grow and learn, and to become an anti-racist and anti-bias learning community.”

The online summit promoting student diversity, equity and inclusion is an optional event for students and it will be held during school hours, Fish said. Participating students will choose sessions relating to “topics of supporting diversity and equity, racial justice, and understanding gender” according to a letter sent to students’ families from Leanne Condon, the assistant superintendent and Title IX coordinator, and Kasey Flagg, the district’s mental wellness coordinator.

The keynote speaker for the summit will be Jamaica Ford, alumni of Mountain Valley High School class of 2012. Ford is self-described as “an activist of change and (Black Lives Matter).

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