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Public weighs in on bill discussing gender pronouns

The public was welcomed to testify on bills pertaining to transgender athletes and pronouns in schools.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The public was welcomed to testify on bills pertaining to transgender athletes and pronouns in schools in Augusta on Monday.

LD 930 would ban transgender girls from competing on girls' sports teams. The bill's wording is vague and shortonly one sentence long. And a party spokesperson told NEWS CENTER Maine its sponsor, Republican Rep. Jeffrey Adams, of Lebanon, urged the committee to vote "ought not to pass,” as he instead wanted to see how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a case out of West Virginia. In the case, a 12-year-old transgender girl sued to continue competing on her sports teams after a 2021 state law barred her from doing so.

The committee obliged Adams' request and voted “ought not to pass.”

The other bill concerning transgender youthLD 678is two sentences long beyond definitions. It would prohibit public school staff from using names or pronouns for students not listed on their birth certificates without written permission from parents.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Katrina Smith, of Polermo, said the bill’s purpose is to stand up for parent’s rights.

NEWS CENTER Maine asked Smith if she was prepared for school staff to be forced to out a child to a family who is not supportive, or even potentially abusive, because of their opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.

She pointed to the state’s new provision—State Law Chapter 117which aims to strengthen protections against child abuse. Smith said that allows for better action among social workers in schools.

Smith also said it is absurd to think a family will not eventually find out their child’s intentions, and pointed to family therapy as a method to resolve issues once the family is made aware.

“I really do not feel they should bethe kids should beexclaiming in a public environment, with their friends and with their teacher, a new name without their parents knowing. It’s just gonna create even more problems,” Smith said. “I think that we all go to therapy when we’re 50 because we have problems with [our] parents. Why don’t we get the kids and their parents working together toward a good relationship when they’re 10, 12, 13, 15?”

Gia Drew, executive director of Equality Maine, testified against Smith’s bill. Before testifying, she told us she was concerned about the potential for kids being outed against their will.

“We want to be careful with that,” Drew said. “We don’t want to put a young person in harm’s way. And we don’t want a bill to put a young person in harm’s way, either.”

Monday’s meeting was just for public testimony, with more debate likely to come, as it has nationwide.

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