TURNER — Directors of Maine School Administrative District 52 voted unanimously Thursday to review the district’s policy on selecting educational materials at the request of a director.

Parents have expressed concerns about sexual content in school library books for months, primarily ones with LGBTQ themes.

In January, the board ultimately chose to keep “Gender Queer: A Memoir” in the Leavitt Area High School library, but not without lengthy debate and concern from parents. The book, which describes the author’s journey to understand their gender and sexual identity, depicts some images that some parents felt were not appropriate for high school students.

In October, high school Librarian Judith Lashman told directors that district librarians choose materials that are beloved favorites, complement academic curriculums, are recently published and provide a diverse perspective.

The board’s curriculum and policy subcommittee will conduct the review of the Selection of Educational Materials policy and send recommend changes to the full board for consideration.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Jamie Johnson of Turner told the board the review will be a large undertaking.


“You shouldn’t expect further policies from us to be reviewed if we’re going to undertake (a review) such as this,” she said.

Originally, Director Anthony Shostak of Greene proposed that the subcommittee should research and recommend changes to the policy to add greater restrictions on sexually explicit content. However, directors later amended his motion in a 8-1 vote to remove the specific directive related to sexually explicit content.

Shostak, who is a member of the subcommittee, said reviewing the policy without this directive “dilutes the message” the board is sending to the community.

“I think that’s unfortunate,” he said.

Director Jessica Nichols of Turner, who first proposed the amendment, disagreed.

“I think the message is sent that we heard the community and we heard what you brought forward,” she said. “It is not our job individually to tell (the subcommittee) what we want, we want to give them the leeway to talk about it and do some research, and that’s not something that we can decide right now.”


During public comment Thursday, Nicole Hart of Turner, wearing a shirt with the words “Gays against Groomers,” said  sexually explicit materials in schools have caused division in the LGBTQ community.

“I am a member of the LGBTQ community, and I am mortified that these sexually explicit books are what you have chosen to be pushed upon students to reflect what this community is about and to aid those that may be questioning their sexuality,” she said.

Directors suggested the subcommittee could consider proposing stronger language restricting sexually explicit content during their review, but that it shouldn’t focus solely on that single concern.

The policy was last revised in March 2018.

Shostak, Johnson and Tammy Fereshetian of Turner are members of the subcommittee. Its next meeting is at 5 p.m. Thursday at Greene Central School.



Due to an error in the state education funding formula, MSAD 52, along with most school districts in Maine, will receive more money this coming school year than previously anticipated. The district will receive $370,677 more from the state, for a total of $16.7 million.

Superintendent Cari Medd said the additional funds will be used to reduce the tax impact on residents Greene, Leeds and Turner, and the district would not look to make new additions to the budget, which includes a school resource officer.

The district has also identified over $100,000 in reductions, largely the result of a lower-than-expected increase in health insurance costs for staff.

The budget total stands at $32.4 million, down from the initial proposal of $32.8 million.

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