Mom of Maine girl who got chest binder at school files lawsuit

A Maine mom has filed a federal lawsuit against her 13-year-old daughter’s school board after she claimed the girl was secretly given a gender-transitioning device known as a “chest binder” and was referred to as a boy.

Amber Lavigne alleges that the Great Salt Bay Community School Board violated her constitutional rights when school staffers secretly provided gender transition counseling to her daughter, the National Review reported.

The transgender guidelines “are unconstitutional insofar as they provide for the concealment of, or do not mandate informing parents of, a decision to provide ‘gender-affirming’ care to a student,” the suit alleges.

The New Castle resident and lawyers with the conservative Goldwater Institute filed the lawsuit Wednesday in US District Court.

The case stems from her claims that a social worker gave the teen the chest-flattening garment and encouraged her to keep it a secret from her parents.

Lavigne has said she contacted Superintendent Lynsey Johnston and Principal Kim Shaff about the matter, but that they appeared to support the social worker, Samuel Roy.

She claimed the school officials declined to turn over records, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, according to the news outlet.

The mother’s lawsuit alleges that school officials “intentionally concealed” the gender counseling from her.

“This was no accident: my daughter’s public school counselor deliberately tried to keep me in the dark, encouraging my daughter’s gender transition and encouraging her to hide it from me,” Lavigne said in a statement released by the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute.

Lavigne claims school social worker Sam Roy, above, provided her daughter with the chest-flattening garment without notifying the mom.
“When school officials found out, they actually defended the counselor’s actions, trampling on my constitutional rights at every turn. I deserve to know what’s happening to my child—the secrecy needs to stop,” she added.

Lead attorney Adam Shelton said: “The Supreme Court has repeatedly held, over the last century, that parents have a fundamental right to control and direct the education, upbringing, and healthcare decisions of their children.

“But parents cannot meaningfully exercise this right if public schools hide vital information about their children from them—which is exactly what the Great Salt Bay Community School did to Ms. Lavigne,” he added.

The institute said the lawsuit names Johnston, Schaff, Roy, social worker Jessica Berk and the entire school board, The Maine Wire reported.

Great Salt Bay Community School didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

The National Review said Johnston did not respond to its inquiries on Wednesday.

In February, the principal defended school staff, saying they are required to follow state and federal civil rights laws about discrimination and privacy.

“A misunderstanding of these laws pertaining to gender identity and privileged communication between school social workers and minor clients has resulted in the school and staff members becoming targets for hate speech and on-going threats,” Schaff wrote in a letter to parents, the National Review reported.

Lavigne, a Democrat who runs a mental-health business, has told the outlet that her daughter began talking to a school social worker near the end of seventh grade about her mental health issues including some gender identity matters.

The parent said she spoke with the staffer about the issues, but came away thinking they weren’t particularly serious.

The girl admitted she got the chest binder at the Great Salt Bay Community School, where she had been reassigned the new social worker.

At the beginning of eighth grade, the girl was assigned a new social worker, Roy, without Lavigne’s knowledge – and the mom discovered the chest binder in the girl’s bedroom, according to the outlet.

School officials in Maine have defended policies that exclude parents from gender transition counseling on the basis that some might have negative reactions if their kids asked to switch genders, The Maine Wire reported.

But the suit argues that Lavigne never gave school officials any reason to believe she would act that way toward her daughter if she found out about the counseling.

“[Lavigne] has never given Defendants cause to believe that [her daughter] will be harmed in any way by Plaintiff’s knowledge of such facts, nor is there any basis for such a belief. Consequently there is no rational basis for the Defendants’ withholding and concealing such information,” the filing states.

And yet, a welfare agent from Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services visited Lavigne based on an anonymous tip about alleged abuse shortly after she complained about the secret counseling, the lawsuit states.

In March, Lavigne told The Maine Wire that she believed the visit was in retaliation against her for speaking out against the school.

School officials have refused to say whether they filed the anonymous complaint.

* Article From: The New York Post