The Gorham School Committee voted unanimously last week to keep gender identity posters hanging in middle school classrooms.

Parent Eric Lane urged the committee at its Sept. 14 meeting to overturn Superintendent Heather Perry’s April denial of his request to remove the posters or provide an alternative viewpoint along with them.

“I hope tonight you will follow the district’s policy and either remove the posters or provide opposing viewpoints,” Lane urged the School Committee before it voted.

The seven-member board, sitting with its lawyer, voted 6-0 not to overturn Perry’s decision. School Committee member Phil Gagnon was absent.

School Committee member Nicole Hudson, who made the motion to keep the posters in place, said School Committee policies were followed and there is no need to post alternative viewpoints.

“I believe removing these posters, which inform our students of some of these definitions, would send a message that certain students belong in Gorham and others do not,” Hudson said.


Lane filed a complaint with the School Committee in May about the posters, which define terms like transgender, cisgender and non-binary, after Perry denied his request April 26 to remove them.

Lane has complained Perry and the School Department have discriminated against him for his religious views in making the request.

Jeff Christiansen, a 35-year Gorham resident, told the School Committee at the meeting that public schools are not religious institutions and he cited the separation of church and state.

Parents have the right to educate their children any way they see fit, he said. They can withdraw their children from public schools, educate them elsewhere or teach them at home.

“They do not have the right to dictate the education of all other children,” Christiansen said.

He was allowed 15 seconds past the allotted three minutes to wrap up his comments.


“I’ll skip ‘Love thy neighbor,'” Christiansen said while appearing to look in the direction of Lane in the audience and a woman behind him wearing a Jesus T-shirt. “You work on that one on your own.”

School Committee member Darryl Wright said keeping the posters is for the greater good of the school district.

“We need to build a safe place for all of our students and to raise critical thinkers,” Wright said.

The posters are in alignment, School Committee member Stewart McCallister said, with the district’s principles and core beliefs and also with Maine’s Human Rights Act.

Lane told the American Journal in a Sept. 16 email that he is compiling evidence that Gorham school policies were not followed regarding his request to have the posters removed.

“Once I have my evidence, I will be seeking legal counsel to discuss the legal consequences of a public school violating their own policy,” Lane said.


He said he is resubmitting some Freedom of Access Act requests to the school department for information about his case because he says earlier information requests were hampered. He has copied the state ombudsman on the resubmitted requests to ensure the law is followed, he said.

“I do believe I have been discriminated against,” Lane told the American Journal.




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