Heather MacDonald of Rumford addresses Regional School Unit 10 directors Monday night at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Regional School Unit 10 directors pushed back Monday against comments from two women who regularly attend meetings to criticize lessons on gender identity and sexuality taught in district schools.

Carol Daigle of Mexico and Heather MacDonald of Rumford have addressed the board during public comment at several meetings this spring and summer.

“The inclusion of the LGBTQ lessons which is a gay, lesbian, straight education (plan); all of these are radical homosexual agendas,” Daigle said. “They want to get to the kids so that they can increase their numbers.”

She said she read several online studies that showed transsexual teens have high rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts. In one study, she said, “82% of transgenders have considered killing themselves (and) 40% have attempted killing themselves.”

Daigle also said that being transgender is considered a mental illness by authorities on some sites.

She was interrupted twice by Director Allison Long of Buckfield.


Being LGBTQ is “not a mental illness; I think we’re continuing (to be) vulgar and (objectionable to LGBTQ people,” Long responded to Daigle’s assertions.

“It’s your opinion,” Mexico Director Peter DeFilipp told Daigle.

“The only agenda here is your own,” Director Janet Brennick of Mexico responded to Daigle.

Chairman Greg Buccina of Rumford asked Daigle to “please wrap it up” after her three-minute time limit expired.

MacDonald said using words “interchangeably that have very different meanings, such as equity and equality, we are entering a dangerous place as a society. It leads to lowering the bar for all.”

She said her son’s fifth-grade individualized education plan last year was not completed until several months after it was due, citing it as an example of how schools are failing students.


“So, you don’t have time to get the IEP reviewed (in) their required time by law, but you have time to invade the innocent minds of children and ask them about their sexuality, which is none of your business; tell them they are ‘less than’ because of their skin color and cover the school walls with propaganda,” MacDonald said.

Matthew Martin of Farmington told directors the district’s connection with Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit school support organization, was causing the district to be “bribed (and) bought out” and to be part of a “. . . hopeless mire of equity (and) inclusion (falsehoods) that goes nowhere but to add to your pocketbooks.”

The Great Schools Partnership website includes an RSU 10 segment as part of its success stories titled Educational Equity: Taking an Inclusive Approach to Equity in RSU 10 Western Foothills. It says that strategies used to teach about equity in the district were “the creation of a districtwide equity team that included teachers from an array of grades, students, principals, the superintendent, members of the school board, custodians, and more.” Other strategies include “school-based civil rights teams, and a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) summit for students.”

Following the comments from Daigle, MacDonald and Martin, some directors suggested the possibility of tightening rules for public comments.

“We definitely need to do something about the public comments,” Director Bonnie Child of Mexico said. “It’s now devolved into a couple people reporting in every single time.”

She said she wasn’t sure if the board should pursue legal help or if they just need to “be firm and fair.”


“We’re just letting yelling happen and it’s just not conducive (for productive meetings),” Child said.

Buccina said, “I think that’s what it is. They come here to try to surprise ya, play gotcha and tell you that you’re doing a terrible job at everything, which is totally untrue.”

“I will tell anyone who is listening that the teachers and the staff and the administration of our district have at the top of their (list), their only priority are students in our district, their academic endeavors and for those students to feel safe and welcome in our schools,” Director Abbey Rice of Rumford said. “All of us, I believe on the board, are pulling for that as well.”

Director Jeff Sterling of Rumford said he thought the public commenters were “very well prepared; they speak very well.” He wondered if they should include any affiliations with groups or organizations when they sign in to speak at a board meeting.

He also thought it would be beneficial to the board if those who give public comment include written sources for materials they reference.

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