The Regional School Unit 9 board of directors voting unanimously on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to promote a guideline regarding transgender and gender expansive students from a guideline to a formal policy. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 board of directors voted unanimously Nov. 28 on two new policies that will be added to the policy manual. The policies are ACAAA: Transgender and Gender Expansive Students and IMG: Animals in School.

Policy ACAAA had previously existed in the schools’ network as a guideline and is now being promoted to a policy following significant updates. The policy states it’s intent is to “1) foster a learning environment that is safe and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying; and 2) to assist in the educational and social integration of transgender students in our schools.”

Under the segment for definitions, the policy states “the terminology in this area is constantly evolving, and preferences for particular terminology vary widely.”

In its definition of gender identity, the policy replaces its original definition with the one defined in the Maine Human Rights Act as “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”

Under gender expression, the new policy adds “personal language/self-referential language” to its list of manners in which a person may represent or expresses their gender.

The policy also includes the term “gender expansive”, defining it as an “umbrella term used to describe a person who expands notions of gender expression and identity beyond perceived or expected societal gender norms. Some gender-expansive people identify with being either male or female, some identify as neither, and others identify as a mix of both. Gender expansive people include those with transgender and nonbinary identities as well as those whose gender in some way is seen to be stretching society’s notions of gender.”


Under section C regarding how to address the needs of a student that identifies as transgender, it specifically states the students do not require a medical diagnosis and the policy provides a significant update to the procedure for students and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s) that want the school to recognize the student’s identity as transgender or gender expansive.

This updates includes a stipulation for students that have not come out to their parents as transgender or gender expansive, stating “the administrator should first discuss parent/guardian involvement with the student to avoid inadvertently putting the student at risk by contacting their parent(s)/guardian(s).”

Significant changes were also seen in sections regarding the student’s privacy, which expands on the rights of the student to withhold their status as a transgendered or gender expansive individual, and student records, which elaborates on how a student’s preferred name and/or gender will be reflected in their records with the school administration.

Along with policy ACAAA is policy IMG: Animals in School. This new policy completely replaces the current policy in its entirety, and specifically states, “The board recognizes that having animals in the classroom can offer valuable student learning experiences, but is also concerned with the health and safety of students, staff, visitors, and the humane treatment of animals when they are brought to school.”

The new policy details what animals are allowed in school, how they should be cared for and what they can provide to the school. The policy goes on to clarify that therapy dogs were excluded from section one as they are addressed in greater detail in policy ACAC regarding service animals.

The policy states that animals “in the classroom must be directly related to the instructional program.” Staff members that wish to include an animal in their lesson plan must submit a request to the principal and include the instructional purpose and activity, the type of animal, the length of time the animal is expected to be present, and a plan for the care of the animal.

All domestic mammals/pets [including dogs, cats, ferrets, and primates] must provide current proof of rabies and/or other vaccination before they are allowed entry. Parrots, parakeets and other psittacine birds may not be brought to school unless they have been tested and certified as psittacosis-free.

For more information on these policies and more, visit RSU 9’s website.

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