Members of the Regional School Unit 9 community are planning to attend the district’s Board of Directors meeting Tuesday night to raise concerns about a poster on gender-identity education at Mt. Blue High School. Pictured, the poster created by OUT Maine offers definitions for gender, biological sex and various forms of gender identity. Screenshot

FARMINGTON — Parents and community members of Regional School Unit 9 are planning to attend Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting to speak out against concerns surrounding gender-identity education in the district.

According to posts in the “RSU9 parents for transparency and truth” private Facebook group acquired by the Franklin Journal, members have been encouraged to attend the meeting.

The concerns to be addressed at the meeting are with a poster about gender identity hanging in the window of the guidance counselor’s office at Mt. Blue High School.

Former RSU 9 Director Jesse Sillanpaa posted Friday, Sept. 9, “please join us and show the board that we are the ones that control what our kids learn and see in school.”

“If you would like to see it [the poster] removed or get more information on where it is specifically located please come to the meeting,” Sillanpaa wrote in another post with a picture of the poster attached.

Sillanpaa resigned from the board in September 2021 due to the “the current climate of schools and our state.”


He wrote in his resignation letter that the board had an “obvious agenda” and he had “lost all faith in any democratic process happening in the district.”

He had also taken issue with the district’s universal masking policy.

The poster, titled “Gender 101,” explains the concept of gender, biological sex and various gender identities.

It was created by OUT Maine, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization with the goal “to create more welcoming and affirming communities for Maine’s diverse queer youth in all of their intersectional identities by changing the very systems that serve them.”

“[Gender is] a social construct based on a group of emotional, behavioral and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s assigned biological sex,” the poster reads. “Gender has several components, including gender identity, gender expression and gender role.

“[Sex is] the set of biological and physiological characteristics that determine someone’s biological sex assigned at birth rather than determining one’s gender.”


The poster continues with definitions for “intersex,” “transgender,” “cisgender,” “gender non-conforming” and “gender fluid.”

It’s unclear when discussions around the poster began, but RSU 9 Directors Alexander Creznic and Charles “Chip” Hinds were seen looking at and taking a photo of the poster following an education policy committee meeting Aug. 2.

At the board’s Aug. 23, meeting, Matthew Martin of Farmington addressed the same concerns about the poster during public comment.

He asked the board if they had received his email discussing the concerns, to which all board members but Creznic and Hinds said no.  However, Chair Carol Coles and Director Dee Robinson of Chesterville said they had received multiple emails from other people regarding the poster.

“It’s come to my attention that a political-activist poster is on the door to the guidance counselor’s office at Mt. Blue High School and I wish to express my desire to have it removed immediately,” Martin said. “Gender and birth are not even relevant to the torturous psychobabble of the rest of the poster. Take these political-activist lies down immediately.”

In the Facebook group, Creznic also posted on Aug. 26 that he was “seeing issues brought up in this group and would like to get more information (specifics) so that your problems can be addressed.”


He also offered to “meet in person” to discuss the issues further.

RSU 9 is one of many districts in Maine confronting concerns around LGBTQ+ education and advocacy.

Regional School Unit 56’s board of directors voted 7-2 on Aug. 9 to remove“Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe from Dirigo High School’s library shelves in Dixfield, according to the Rumford Falls Times.

Pam Harnden of the Livermore Falls Advertiser reports RSU 73 will also be reviewing complaints around “Gender Queer,” as well as “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo.

The Portland Press Herald reports Buxton-based SAD 6 is also considering a ban.

No complaints about “Gender Queer” have yet been made public in RSU 9.


Analysis from the Movement Advancement Project found from 2020 to 2021, there were proposed “bills in at least 14 … states considered ‘Don’t Say Gay’ and other related legislation that specifically seeks to censor discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity, ban LGBTQ-inclusive books or materials, and more.”

Chalkbeat reports that both LGBTQ+ students and general educators feel targeted by these bills, which critics call “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bills.

One in Florida, which went into effect July 1, requires teachers to notify parents of “changes in students’ mental or emotional condition,” which educators fear will require them to inform parents anytime a student discusses gender or sexuality with them.

The bill also “allows parents to report and potentially sue school districts if they believe a teacher has discussed sexual orientation or gender identity with students in grades K-3 or with older students in a way that’s not ‘age appropriate,'” Chalkbeat reports.

While there are no such bills yet in the state, Maine’s Republican Party amended its platform in April to “to call for a ban on sexually-based material, transgender identity and ‘critical race theory’ in public schools,” according to the Portland Press Herald.

The RSU 9 Board of Directors will meet for their bi-monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Forum at Mt. Blue Campus.

There are no items on the amended agenda, sent Monday morning, explicitly addressing the poster.