A local chapter of a national conservative organization focused on parents’ rights in education believes that SAD 75 has some practices that are harmful to students.

The chapter of Parents’ Rights in Education, or PRIE, was officially established last March and has about 30 local members, according to member Allen Sarvinas of Topsham. His children attend Lisbon Falls Christian Academy, which makes it easy for parents of SAD 75 students to use him as a sounding board for their concerns, he said.

The group has taken some of their concerns to the SAD 75 school board and other district administrators, and plan to continue to do so, he said. Its main concerns center on Mt. Ararat middle and high school students’ involvement in the State Attorney General’s Office’s Civil Rights Team Project; a book, “The Bare Naked Book,” that is used as part of Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine curriculum for elementary school students; and a newly approved elective at the middle school called “So Change it! Health Advocacy.”


School Board Chairperson Frank Wright told The Forecaster in October that he had not received any requests from the group. When contacted for this article, Wright said, “As a board we try very hard to remain apolitical” and declined to comment further. School principals did not respond to requests for comment this week.

The group thinks the after-school civil rights team’s relationship with the Attorney General’s Office gives the state too much power to determine what students advocate for and the topics they cover, Sarvinas said.

The Civil Rights Project, according to the Attorney General’s office website, is based on its belief that “bias-based behaviors are especially damaging, and because of their unique nature, warrant specific preventative efforts.” The project “encourages school communities to engage in this important work, so that students of all identities feel safe, welcome and respected for who they are.”


The civil rights team at Mt. Ararat High School is hyper-focused on gender and sexuality, Sarvinas said, and “some kids don’t want to think about that all the time.” That focus may prevent some students from joining who want to cover other topics, he said.

“We do not believe minors have the ability to moderate their behavior concerning such highly emotional topics that always center on sexuality, race and climate,” Sarvinas said.

Some schools have civil rights team materials posted in hallways and team members at Mt. Ararat Middle School sometimes hand out materials at lunch, he said. PRIE disagrees with those practices because the Civil Rights Team requires parental permission to join, he said.  

One parent, though, said the civil rights team should be doing more to educate other students.

At a Dec. 8 School Board meeting, Keeley Forrestal, the parent of a Mt. Ararat Middle School student, said her daughter, who is Black, was the victim of a “hate crime.” She was subjected to a group chat labeled “We Hate Black People,” with pictures of the Klu Klux Klan and other disturbing racist images, Forrestal said. “I’ve spoken to the school but I don’t know if anyone is aware of that at all.”

“As a school board, and I know it takes a village, but we need to do a better job of educating our children,” she said. “Something that was really disturbing was that the messages by the students were looked at by some of the faculty, and those students were allowed back the next day … That was a threat to my child.” 


“I wish there was an email sent right away saying that this won’t be tolerated,” she added. 

Sarvinas said the group chat was made by students outside of the district.

Another of the group’s concerns is an updated version of a book used as part of the Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine curriculum that has been approved by the school board. “The Bare Naked Book” explains different body parts to familiarize elementary-aged kids with their bodies. Originally published in 1986, the first version’s page on genitals stated, “penises, that’s for boys” and “vaginas, that’s for girls.” The new version, published in 2021, instead says, “Genitals – different people have different kinds. Whatever you call whatever you have, your genitals belong to you.”

PRIE takes issue with that update, because it does not use “anatomically correct language,” Sarvinas said. “They are prioritizing ‘diverse’ gender ideology language over the most effective language to prevent child abuse. The use of anatomically correct language is in state law and district policy,” he said.

Another objectionable update to PRIE was a page on navels that includes a drawing of a bare-chested woman with nipple rings, something Sarvinas said is not school-appropriate for that age group. 

PRIE is also speaking out against a newly approved elective in the middle school called “So Change it! Health Advocacy.” The course description states its learning goals as, “students demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication and advocacy skills to enhance personal, family and community health.”

Sarvinas said that in the meeting in which the course was proposed, one example of a student project was advocating for a ban on plastic straws in local restaurants, something he said was outside of what the title of the course suggests it would be.

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