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Maine mother sues school, argues officials withheld information about child's gender transition

A Newscastle mother is suing the Great Salt Bay Community School Board and Central Lincoln County School officials for what she says is a violation of her constitutionally-protected parental rights.

Attorneys with the Goldwater Institute have filed a lawsuit on Lavigne's behalf in federal district court in Portland. According to the lawsuit, school social workers gave Lavigne's 13-year-old child a chest binder and began using a name and pronouns not given to her child at birth. And Lavigne alleges the school told her child to withhold this information from their parents.

The complaint argues the school district violated Lavigne's parental rights to control and direct the education and upbringing of her child by intentionally withholding information about her child's gender expression.

And Lavigne argues that by concealing this information from her, the school has violated her due process rights under the 14th amendment.

The lawsuit names the school board, the school's principal and two social workers, as well as Central Lincoln County School System Superintendent Lynsey Johnston, as defendants in the case.

The school district didn't immediately return a request for comment. But according to the lawsuit, school board officials have previously said students have a right to privacy, regardless of their age.

"We agree that while students do have a right to privacy, there is kind of a countervailing parental right to know what's going on with their children," said Adam Shelton, a staff attorney for the Goldwater Institute.

"We're not arguing here that the school can't use different pronouns or a different name, simply that if they're going to do that they must inform parents of that decision. And then that way parents can fully exercise their right to choose where to send their student to school," he added.

According to the lawsuit, Lavigne removed her child from the Great Salt Bay Community School and started homeschooling them instead.

Lavigne is seeking an injunction preventing the school from calling her children by different names and pronouns without her permission, as well as undescribed damages that would cover the costs of removing her child from the school.

The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute has represented families in several other states in so-called parental rights cases.