In the early 2000s, my family was moving into an apartment in Portland. I was in the elevator with my 4-year-old son, and a neighbor said to me, “Your homosexual ass is not welcome here.”

When we got to our apartment, my young son asked, “Does he hate all of us, or just you?”

Over the past 20 years, there has been progress in the advancement of LGBTQ rights (and representation) in Maine, which is why I was so disappointed to read about an out-of-state marketing company, hired by the Maine Republican Party, using fear and hatred of LGBTQ people in one of its early gubernatorial attack ads. I was even more disappointed to see the current Democratic gubernatorial administration’s response to the ad.

One purpose of public schools is to teach young people how to live in a pluralistic society – which includes LGBTQ people. If the “Freedom Days” lesson featured in the attack ad could have been better, then make it better.

Please don’t let Maine’s Republican Party demonize LGBTQ people (and our allies) again. That was the Maine I grew up in – and the Maine that led to the 1984 murder of Charlie Howard.

And, please don’t let Maine Democrats get away with sacrificing LGBTQ Mainers for political expediency again.

What I said to my young son all those years ago was, “It’s my job to make sure this place is safe for us. All of us.”

I am still committed to that. Who’s with me?

Kelley McDaniel

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