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Judge dismisses lawsuit by mother who said school hid teen's gender expression

PORTLAND, Maine — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Maine woman who accused school officials of encouraging her teen’s gender expression by providing a chest binder and using a new name and pronouns, without consulting parents.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy acknowledged his decision that a mother such as Amber Lavigne “might expect school officials to keep her informed about how her child is navigating matters related to gender identity” but he concluded that she failed to establish legal claims for which the school district could be held liable.

The lawsuit filed last year was the latest to weigh a minor’s right to privacy when confiding in a mental health professional against a parent’s right to supervise their children’s health and education.

According to the lawsuit, a school counselor provided the chest binder and instruction on how to use it. The mother, who has since begun home-schooling her teen, said the school also began calling the 13-year-old by a different name and pronouns.

The lawsuit contended the mother had a “right to control and direct the care, custody, education, upbringing and healthcare decisions of her children,” and that Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta violated her constitutional right by keeping the student’s gender expression from parents.

The judge previously dismissed claims against individual school officials. The remaining claim against the school board was dismissed by the judge in his May 3 order.

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