KENNEBUNKPORT – Parents and the School Board of Regional School Unit 21 are calling out the conservative group “Advocates For Truth In Our Schools,” which held a meeting at a local Kennebunkport business on March 12 to discuss combatting “transgender ideology” in schools.

The event, which was hosted by the construction firm Spang Builders, was billed as a discussion put on by concerned citizens regarding RSU 21’s policies towards transgender students and was protested by multiple RSU 21 parents.

At one point, the owner of Spang Builders came out and spoke with the protestors. Their picket ultimately led to a call to the police.

ATOS’ meeting drew roughly a dozen people – including House Rep. Dan Sayre, D-Kennebunk – and was led by Thomas Moyer, a school psychologist who has worked in schools in New York, Maryland and in Maine.

Moyer founded ATOS last year after hearing that Kennebunk High School acknowledged Transgender Day of Visibility.

“I thought that was not an appropriate thing to do, and so I decided to explore this issue further and just got into it,” said Moyer. The group is currently made up of five people, he said.


“It’s dangerous, someone’s going get hurt, and it’s probably going to be a trans kid,” said Nicole Rea, one of the RSU 21 parents who protested.

Rea stood on the drive leading up to Spang Builders with signs expressing support for trans and nonbinary students. The signs also called out Spang Builders for hosting the event, she said.

Two other parents joined the picket but Rea and another parent (the third had left by then) were eventually asked to leave by police, who informed them they were on private property.

Tim Spang, the owner of Spang Builders and a one-time candidate for the RSU 21 School Board, told the Kennebunk Post that he allowed ATOS to use his conference area because the Kennebunk Free Library said that the group could not have the event there.

ATOS was denied a room at the library after failing to follow the usual procedure for reserving a room, according to Kennebunk Free Library Director Michelle Conners. Conners declined to say more about the situation.

Rep. Sayre, who represents Kennebunk in the State Legislature, and his wife Claudia Sayre, who sits on RSU 21’s School Board, attended the ATOS meeting. Only two people at the meeting identified themselves as parents with students in RSU 21.


Moyer’s comments received a mixed reaction from the group, with some expressing sympathy for his views and others, including Rep. Dan Sayre, pushing back on some of his assertions.

Much of Moyer’s presentation focused on praising traditional gender roles.

“People who identify as transgender have normal, healthy male or female bodies. Because culture recognizes differences between males and females, social conventions and standards for boys and girls that serve to respect and protect them have been put in place – like separate locker rooms, bathrooms and sex segregated sports,” he added.

Moyer also took direct aim at RSU 21, saying that its policies promote “transgender ideology.”

RSU 21 has a policy that outlines its approach to “foster(ing) a learning environment that is safe and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying” and “assisting(in) in the educational and social integration of transgender and gender expansive students.”

The policy describes when, in the district’s eyes, a student is considered transgender or gender expansive. “This involves more than a casual declaration of gender identity or expression, but does not require a medical diagnosis,” according to the written policy.


The policy includes a number of steps – such as contacting the building administrator or the student’s guidance counselor – and notes that if a student hasn’t yet told their parents, the school employee should first talk about parent involvement with the student.

School Board Chair Ein Nadeau said that the policy is in legal compliance and not up for review any time soon. The district would not revisit the policy until 2026, unless something in the law changes and prompts a sooner revision.

Nadeau released a statement on behalf of the School Board at the end of February upon learning of the event planned for March 12.

“The premise of the meeting does not align with our values or district policy. RSU 21 supports the rights of transgender and gender-expansive students and staff,” she wrote.

During the meeting, Moyer said that the sizable percentage of high school students in York County who identify as either gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning is a result of schools “affirming” those identities, not because the number of LGBTQ students is actually that high.

In 2023, 25.1% of York County high school students identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “questioning” according to the 2023 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. The percentage of York County high school students identifying as transgender was 4.7% according to the same survey, up .6% two years prior.


Nationwide, some 7% percent of the population identifies as LGBTQ according to a 2022 Gallup poll, and nearly a third of Gen Z adults identify that way.

One attendee took issue with Moyer’s assertion that just because historically very few people were openly LGBTQ, that means the true number of LGBTQ people is low. Sayre also expressed skepticism on this point.

But others were sympathetic towards Moyer’s arguments. One woman said she also thinks that there’s a “true” number of transgender people, a number that’s smaller than current data suggests.

Moyer’s comments echo a national trend of legislation targeting LGBTQ student rights and education. In states that have passed laws aimed at restricting LGBTQ students rights, hate crimes have increased four fold, according to a recent Washington Post investigation.

A 16-year-old nonbinary high school student named Nex Benedict from Oklahoma died by suicide last month after having a physical altercation in a school bathroom. Benedict’s family said that the teen was subjected to bullying at school.

Advocates for transgender and gay rights have drawn a connection between Benedict’s death and anti-trans laws passed in Oklahoma, including one that requires students to use bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate.


Nicole Rea, the mom who protested the event, said she had Nex Benedict on her mind when she was protesting on March 12.

When asked directly whether he thought his statements about gender and objections to RSU 21’s policies make it more dangerous to be a trans student, Moyer said no.

“This isn’t doing violence to anybody. Just because we have a different point of view isn’t causing violence,” he said.

After Moyer spoke, the crowd heard from Allen Sarvinas of the group Parents Rights in Education, a 501c3 aimed at reforming the “education system to protect our children.” Sarvinas talked about the legal status of parents’ rights in Maine.

“Parents’ rights” – a nebulous term that encompasses the idea that parents have control over their children’s upbringing, which extends to school curricula and policies – has become an increasingly loud rallying cry among conservatives.

Calls to require that schools disclose a student’s gender identity or sexual orientation to parents without the consent of the student are often articulated via parents’ rights.


Outside the event, Nicole Rea said that Tim Spang – the owner of Spang Builders – came out and spoke with her. Rea told Spang that it was wrong for him to host the event, and told him her concerns that a trans student would get hurt as a result.

After the conversation, one parent who joined the protest posted a video on Facebook, taking issue with the event using strong language, according to Rea. It was the video that prompted Spang Builders to call the police.

Tim Spang said he was willing to let the parents protest on his land until he saw the video, when it was clear they were no longer going to be “nice.” Rea said she did know they were on private property.

“Regardless of whether you agree, these kids exist,” Rea said she told Spang.

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