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Paris school board members who supported gender identity policy recalled in vote

More than 300 votes were cast to recall the school board members.

PARIS, Maine — Residents in the town of Paris, Maine voted 333 to 243 to recall two MSAD 17 school board members who backed a proposed student gender-identity policy.

Voters recalled school board members Sarah Otterson and Julia Lester. Lester resigned from the board before the election. The town has since filled her position. 

Otterson and Lester both backed the now-tabled policy that could have allowed students to choose how they want to identify. The policy emphasized student-teacher privacy, which worried opponents teachers would be allowed to withhold important information from parents. 

"You think they would be fired for coming up with a radical agenda like this,” Tim Honey, who voted to recall the two school board members, said.

Paris resident Lesli Olson told NEWS CENTER Maine gender identity policies like these are important and voted against the recall. 

“Many people view it as taking away a parent’s right to have their children be able to speak privately to people at school, but in fact, it’s for the safety of the children because the suicide rate among these kids is really high," Olson said.

The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health shows suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ youth over the years. 

The Paris town clerk said the town will appoint someone to finish Otterson's term, which expires in June. 

Otterson did not respond to NEWS CENTER Maine's multiple requests for comment. 

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