A community member speaks during the public comment session of SAD 75’s School Board meeting on Sept. 28 at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. Luna Soley / The Times Record

Parents in the Topsham area expressed frustration and concern last Thursday over proposed changes to a policy that would allow transgender and gender-expansive students to come out at school without informing their parents, if they choose.

The Maine School Administrative District 75 School Board planned to review the policy on Sept. 28, but it postponed the reading after feedback from the district’s Mental Health Committee and Policy Committee, suggesting the board add language to protect the privacy of trans and gender-expansive students. 

Under the change, teachers and administrators would be instructed to discuss parent involvement with the student and to use their best judgment as to whether parents are informed. 

Many parents took the podium during public comment to speak out against the policy recommendation, saying it made them feel “out of the loop” in their children’s lives. 

Mt. Ararat High School senior Kristina Roscoe, the school board’s student representative, who said she identifies as bisexual, said in an interview after the meeting that coming out at home was difficult.

“It makes you feel naked,” she said. “From a student’s perspective, a student deserves a level of privacy. Nobody is being hurt by a student wanting to be called by a different name or different pronouns.”


Susan Horowitz, a parent from Harpswell, agreed. 

“I think that if parents are involved in their kid’s life, then they most probably know what’s going on with the kids,” Horowitz said. “And if they’re not aware, it’s because the kids probably don’t feel safe.”

Many of the people who spoke, Horowitz added, “feel like the school policy is saying that the parents can’t be involved. The school policy’s not saying that. The school policy is just presenting a window for those kids who don’t feel safe at home.”

Horowitz also expressed her disappointment, after the meeting was over, that the majority of the parents who spoke left after the public comment period. She questioned whether this showed a true interest in their children’s education.

Leah Marks, of Topsham, was — along with Horowitz — one of the few parents who stayed.

“I choose to homeschool my two younger girls and will do so until SAD 75 shows me, through policy, that students in this school district are children first, not students first,” she said.

Roscoe said it’s unfortunate that some children feel they can’t confide in their parents about issues of gender identity or sexuality.

“Something that a lot of parents struggle to accept is that they’re not the number one confidante for their kids all the time.”

The SAD 75 School Board will review the amended policy at its upcoming meeting on Oct. 12.

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