On an average day in downtown Portland, I wake up and walk my dog, an unremarkable task.

A Progress Pride flag flies with the American flag at the Skowhegan Free Public Library on June 24, 2021. The flag includes black and brown stripes to represent LGBTQ+ communities of color and the pink, light blue and white stripes of the Transgender Pride flag. Maine is one of several states, including Indiana and Iowa, where proposed legislation would require parental consent for students to use names and pronouns that differ from those they were assigned at birth. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel, File

I may, on that walk, go past Planned Parenthood on Congress Street. If I’m as much as wearing purple skinny jeans, one of the protesters who frequents this specific corner may refer to me with a slur. I may continue along Congress, on this average day, and pass Congress Square Park, where there may well be a group of surprisingly joyous individuals, playing music and dancing, bearing signs asking the community to “Choose love.” I smile. This contrast in these same-day experiences is not unique.

In neighboring New Hampshire, the American Civil Liberties Union has identified four recent bills designed to target LGBTQ rights. Available health care and content allowed in local school systems are both up for consideration in legislative bargaining.

What of Maine?

L.D. 678 is a proposal that, if passed, will “require parental approval for public school employees to use a name or pronoun other than a child’s given name or pronoun corresponding to the gender on the child’s birth certificate.” The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee but has not been scheduled for a hearing.

As with any piece of legislation, this has a purpose: someone is to be served, something protected or a right or group of rights upheld. The state Legislature works to create an organized framework for a better Maine for all. However, grave issues arise when the nature of said legislation discriminates against specific groups, notwithstanding their marginalized history.


If jaywalking is an act that results in a fine, one knows this is because elected officials are attempting to keep pedestrians safe. If truancy is an act for which a juvenile faces consequence, this is something designed to keep our young ones organized, within an established school routine.

Likewise, consider the proposal on pronoun use and ask yourself: Who is this for? Who is being protected? Whose rights are being upheld? Moreover, whose are not? Those in support of this bill will say that this is designed to provide parents with more control over what their children are exposed to. However, the impacts of requirements like the one proposed spread much farther.

Agree or disagree with the ideals that inspire this bill, a child’s identity, gender or otherwise, is one that they uniquely experience, with or without approval.

This experience stands rigid with or without religious reprimand, imposed moral objections or other reprehension. School is a place where a child in an unwelcoming home environment may find solace. If L.D. 678 becomes law, the probability of such comfort wanes.

Yes, school is a place for learning. However, school is also a social structure designed to mold a child into a framework that they will work within throughout adulthood.

As parents of children in Maine’s schools, as onlookers who have fewer stakes in the matter or those who personally believe in a strict binary that corresponds with one’s gender assigned at birth, we must ask the question: Who is this proposal serving? Who is being protected? What precedent would this set for adults of similar demographics if sanctuaries of learning are those first targeted for such intense regulation? It’s proposals like L.D. 678 that are responsible for the extreme duality I’m already experiencing as an adult on my average days here in Maine.

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