RUMFORD — Complaints were voiced to Regional School Unit 10 directors Monday about issues regarding race and gender and about posters in the Mountain Valley Middle School cafeteria defining sexual terms.
Carol Daigle and Heather MacDonald addressed the school board in March about educating children in matters of race and sexuality.
Daigle asked why there were posters on the cafeteria walls at the middle school in Mexico with written definitions of various words such as nonbinary and pansexual.
“So, I’m just wondering why these have to hang on the cafeteria wall? she asked. She said the definition of pansexual on the poster is: No limit to whom (someone) wants to date. “I believe that’s been prettied up a lot because it really (means) no limit to whatever you want to have sex with.
“Again, I ask why is that hanging on the cafeteria wall? Because I believe that this is an education facility,” Daigle said. She said the posters were “normalizing sex of any sort” and the school was doing nothing but indoctrinating students into a sexual lifestyle.
“This is once again, as I said before, this is what pedophiles read,” she said.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with pedophiles,” Director Bonnie Child of Mexico said. “I feel like we’re attacking certain people … and I just feel like, once again, we’re using some language that could be hurtful to people that are listening.”
Board Chairman Greg Buccina of Rumford eventually told Daigle she had exceeded the three minutes normally allowed for each person during public comments.
On Tuesday, middle school Principal Ryan Casey said the posters were created by mostly eighth grade students as part of their work on the Civil Rights Team, which is part of the Maine Civil Rights Project, and “not a school curriculum.”
The students chose to write some definitions of words that were “most likely being misused” and they were writing to “properly define keywords,” he said.
Casey said it’s important to give students a voice and “make sure that voice is an educated voice.”
Ryanne Prevost, a math teacher at the school and the Civil Rights adviser at the school, wrote in an email response, “The Civil Rights Team at MVMS is part of a statewide Civil Rights Team called the Maine Civil Rights Team Project. This group provides resources for schools in the state of Maine. The state has a list of suggested projects and our students choose this one, which is to define words. In the project, students identify terms and important words that they feel their school should have awareness of. They define these terms in their own words and create a graphic that represents that definition.”
Prevost included information on the Civil Rights Vocabulary project, which listed words and concepts about race and skin color, national origin and ancestry, religion, disabilities, gender, including gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation. Also listed in the project’s recommendations was one to “think about what’s age-appropriate. When in doubt, share plans with administration.”
MacDonald read a letter she wrote to the board of directors. “I’m here to speak about (Critical Race Theory) also known as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and (Social Emotional Learning) and the hyper-sexualized agenda being pushed on our kids in this district.
“It seems nobody’s willing to admit that this is really going on,” she read. “Our children are being told that based on their skin color and gender, they may have white privilege with the guilt” and they “have to deal with implicit bias, explicit bias, racial prejudice, microaggressions and are either the oppressor or the oppressed.
“You’re also teaching sexual content that is not age-appropriate and without parental consent,” MacDonald wrote. “There is no valid reason to define children by their sexual orientation. My children’s sexuality is none of your concern. When parents speak up, they’re told it’s the kids who want to talk about sex.”
RSU 10 includes Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Hanover, Buckfield, Sumner and Hartford.