WINSLOW — A group of about 10 people attended a school board meeting this week to argue that, despite recent revisions, the school district’s policy on transgender students still allows for parents to be excluded from school conversations about their child’s gender identity.

The Winslow Public Schools’ policy regarding transgender students was first implemented in 2019, but Superintendent Peter Thiboutot said in a January memo the school board revised it in December to “clarify some of the ambiguous language that was in the previous policy.”

“Specifically, it helped to clarify that parents will be, and always have been, a part of the process when discussing a possible plan to support students that identify as transgendered or gender expansive,” Thiboutot wrote.

But the group that attended Monday’s meeting, comprised of Winslow residents and others from nearby towns, still argued the policy does not do enough to ensure parent inclusion. The same group has attended school board meetings in recent months to repeatedly voice the concerns.

People in the group cited an email in December sent by a high school counselor to faculty sharing that a student wanted to be called by a new name and pronouns, but the counselor in the email asked staff not to divulge the information to the student’s parents who were “not on board yet.”

Thiboutot issued a public statement Jan. 9 acknowledging the email and saying that it appeared the “new language in the revised policy was not fully implemented while a staff member was working with a student.”


Thiboutot said the matter was reported to the administration and “steps were immediately taken to correct the concern raised.”

Steve Soucy, the parent of a student at Winslow High School, said Monday that even with the revisions the policy is “not clear and still leaves room for error and (leaves) parents out of the equation” when their children come out at school.

The incident led some of those attending the board meeting Monday to protest not just the policy on transgender students, but the display of LGBTQ flags in Winslow schools.

Winslow resident Ryan Clark compared displaying the rainbow flag to displaying a Confederate flag. He said the rainbow flag is misappropriated from the Bible.

“That flag was stolen from us and used in a way that we find offensive,” Clark said. “As long as that flag hangs in the windows … my three children are not going to go to school here.”

Thiboutot explained Tuesday that flags people are referring to are actually stickers that were handed out by a student civil rights club and displayed in some places.


Katie Lutts, a program director with advocacy group OUT Maine, said Tuesday that the LGBTQ flag is not a political statement like the Confederate or other flags. “The existence of a human being is not political; it’s as simple as that,” Lutts said.

She said that from her perspective, as a Maine health educator for nearly 15 years, seeing rainbow flags in school is a “silent message” to queer or other students telling them they’ll be safe there.

“As far as I’m concerned, any student who feels safer is going to do better in their academics,” she said.

School board Chairman Joel Selwood was asked Monday why Pride flags are allowed to be displayed in schools, and he said such conversations are to be had with administrators before they come to the school board.

Selwood said since the policy on transgender students was updated as recently as December, the board does not plan on reviewing it again soon.

“We just did the policy … at some point you have to move on and go to the next one, because there’s plenty of work to be done,” Selwood said. “It would take a majority of the board to bring that back.”

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