In a recent editorial (“Our View: All Maine schools should heed panel’s ruling on bullying,” July 17), the Portland Press Herald made this argument: “It’s a school’s responsibility to pay attention to its own culture of tolerance, and if the climate becomes hostile, the school can be held liable for violating a student’s civil rights.”

The editorial went on to state: “Every school should be confronting a culture that treats any variation from the majority in perceived sexual orientation and gender expression to be alien and worthy of contempt.”

In other words, if a student deviates from the majority in any way with respect to sexual orientation or gender expression, he or she should be protected from any negative reactions on the part of others.

It is here that the Press Herald, and indeed, most commentators, go too far. I suggest that there are indeed certain expressions of sexual orientation or gender of which we have every right to be intolerant.

In the online Free Dictionary, I find this definition of “paraphilia”: “Sexual perversion or deviation. A condition in which the sexual instinct is expressed in ways that are socially prohibited or unacceptable or are biologically undesirable, such as the use of a nonhuman object for sexual arousal, sexual activity with another person that involves real or simulated suffering or humiliation, or sexual relations with a nonconsenting partner. Kinds of paraphilia include exhibitionism, pedophilia, transvestism, voyeurism, and zoophilia.”

Either the Press Herald believes that any of these forms of sexual expression should be protected, or it must specify why some should be protected, and others not. In the latter case, some set of boundaries needs to be specified, and their locations defended. Otherwise, we will eventually find ourselves forced to legally defend forms of behavior that no civilization should tolerate.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island