AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Education removed from its website a video containing an LGBTQ lesson plan for kindergarten students that was the subject of a Republican ad targeting Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.
The ad, which first aired Wednesday, accused the governor of spending $2.8 million to create “radical school lessons” aimed at the youngest children in public schools.
The Department of Education quickly reviewed the online lesson plan and said Wednesday it had been removed. The governor was not aware of the video “and agrees with the Department of Education’s decision to remove the lesson,” the governor’s spokesperson, Lindsay Crete, said in an email.
The video was produced for an online resource hub created early in the pandemic to allow teachers to share lesson plans. There are more than 400 optional lessons on the website.
On the targeted video, a teacher discusses “Freedom Holidays” like the Fourth of July and Juneteenth before moving to a discussion on the different sexual identities under the umbrella of “LGBT+” and of the rights to same-sex marriage.
The Republican campaign ad concludes: “Janet Mills’ radical agenda is just wrong for our kids and for Maine,” the ad says. The GOP attack ad is the first of the election cycle in which former Republican Gov. Paul LePage is attempting to unseat Mills.
Teachers were paid $1,000 in the first quarter, and $250 in subsequent quarters, to produce those videos in the early days of the pandemic as teachers scrambled to teach students remotely, said Marcus Mrowka, education department spokesperson.
The program, which is called Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education, or MOOSE, is highly regarded by educators but the video cited by Republicans didn't stand up to review, Mrowka said.
“A review of the video led the Department to conclude that the lesson is not something we would recommend including as part of kindergarten instruction, and, as such, has been removed from the site,” he said.
It's unclear how many teachers, if any, utilized the video, he said.
The program is undergoing a previously scheduled review as part of an effort to update the current offerings and to consider new, teacher-created material for the coming school year.