I’m writing regarding the gender policy proposed for SAD 17.

I support these measures to protect LGBTQ+ youth. Youth mental health is a top health priority, and LGBTQ+ youth are among the most at risk in Maine.

Due to the stigma and bullying experienced in schools, at home and in community settings, LGBTQ+ youth are twice more likely to seriously consider suicide and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.

As a student at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, I had close friends who experienced bullying and hardship in school and at home due to stigma around gender and sexual identity. These harms are not only painful in the moment but have lasting health impacts — i.e. higher risk for depression, substance use and chronic illnesses.

For many of us, this is not anecdotal. These numbers speak to our own experiences and those of friends and family.

This policy was introduced in response to teachers and administration seeking further guidance supporting LGBTQ+ youth. Many communities face similar challenges and have developed policies creating safer school environments.


The policy being introduced is built on these precedents, data, legal counsel and statewide expert support. Example: data shows using preferred pronouns and names reduces risk of suicide by over half. By honoring chosen pronouns/name, using bathrooms kids feel safest in, and allowing youth to determine who has information about their gender identity, this policy offers these vulnerable youth needed protection and safety at school.

I hope our community and school board will support this important policy.

Emma DayBranch, South Paris


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