Maine teen gets chest binder at school without consent

A Maine mom has called for an investigation into her 13-year-old daughter’s school after she claims a social worker gave the teen a gender-transitioning device known as a “chest binder” and encouraged her to keep it secret from her parents.

Amber Lavigne, of Damariscotta, told the National Review that she found her daughter’s chest-flattening garment in December and confronted the teen, who claimed a friend gave it to her.

“I want you to think long and hard if there’s anything else you want to share with me about this because I am going to reach out to your friend’s mom,” Lavigne said she told her daughter.

The girl then admitted she got the device at the Great Salt Bay Community School, where she had been reassigned to a new social worker, Samuel Roy, according to the outlet.

But school officials never informed the mother and Roy never reached out to her, according to the National Review.

Amber Lavigne
School officials appeared to support the social worker and didn’t answer questions from Amber Lavigne, pictured here.
Amber Lavigne via National Review

Lavigne said that when she discovered the chest binder, she emailed Superintendent Lynsey Johnston and Principal Kim Shaff.

Shaff called her the next morning to ask for more details about the binder and what, exactly, was in it, she said.

“Because in her mind I’m talking about, like, a three-ring binder, something you should find in a school,” Lavigne told the news outlet.

Lavigne emailed the superintendent and principal as to who was responsible for giving her daughter a chest binder.
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Amber Lavigne addresses a recent school board meeting.

In a phone conversation, “I poured my heart out to this woman. She absolutely validated my feelings and made me feel like something was going to be done,” she said.

Lavigne said that during a meeting with Shaff and Johnston, they “both sat there and expressed grave concern for what happened with my daughter.”

After meeting with Roy, the school officials appeared to support the social worker and did not answer Lavigne’s questions or turn over any records, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the National Review said.

“These people had no desire to work with me as a human being,” the mom said of the school board and district leaders.

Lavigne also found out that school staff had been referring to her daughter by a new name and by male pronouns.

“I feel like my rights were violated and my daughter’s education was put on the back burner,” Lavigne told the Washington Times. I feel like they overstepped and drove a wedge between my child and her family.”

Lavigne pulled her daughter out of this school. She is being represented by attorneys from the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, who argue that the school’s actions are unconstitutional and violate her rights.

A letter sent to school board Chairman Samuel Belknap by the Goldwater Institute said the actions “violated Ms. Lavigne’s fundamental constitutional right to control and direct the education, upbringing, and healthcare decisions of her daughter, as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” the Washington Times reported.

The conservative public policy research and litigation group called for a probe into Roy’s actions — and for the board to update its policies to make it clear that parents must be advised of decisions affecting their children’s mental health and physical well-being.

Amber Lavigne found her daughter’s chest-flattening garment in December.
Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

“Parents aren’t going to be able to effectively ensure the safety of their kids if they’re missing out on critical information involving their kids,” institute lawyer Adam Shelton told the National Review.

In a recent letter to the community, school officials claimed that “certain parties are spreading a grossly inaccurate and one-sided story,” adding that they could not respond due to confidentiality reasons, according to the outlet.

“Those promoting this false narrative are apparently disturbed by our school’s ongoing and steadfast commitment to providing all students with safe and equal access to educational opportunities without discrimination because of, among other things, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, as the Maine Human Rights Act requires,” the latter reportedly said.

The girl then admitted she got the chest binder at the Great Salt Bay Community School, where she had been reassigned to a new social worker.
The girl then admitted she got the chest binder at the Great Salt Bay Community School, where she had been reassigned to a new social worker.
Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Lavigne acknowledged that her daughter is struggling with her gender identity – but said that when she was younger she liked painting her fingernails and putting on makeup.

“That’s one of the most bizarre things about this,” she told the National Review.

“I wanted so badly for my daughter to be an athlete, because I was an athlete. I was a wicked tomboy growing up. I’m like, ‘She’s going to be a basketball superstar.’ I couldn’t get this kid to pick up a frigging baseball and throw it at me to save her life. She was into tutus and My Little Ponies,” Lavigne said.

“The first time I really started to hear her discuss gender ideology in general, she started talking about a friend being pansexual, and another friend being polysexual,” she continued. “I’m like, ‘Why are we talking sexual right now? You’re 11.’”

“She’s having a hard time, because she thinks that she’s a boy, and I’m not allowing her to make life-altering decisions right now that are irreversible.”

Amber Lavigne

Shelton, the Goldwater Institute lawyer, agreed that the girl had a right to meet with Roy confidentially, but he noted that “the social transitioning involved the entire school as a whole, not just the counselor.”

He claimed school officials overstepped their bounds when they took active steps to encourage or assist the girl with a social transition.

“That’s the big difference for us, when it goes from kind of listening and just hearing to actively doing something in support of it,” Shelton told the outlet.

“Once you go into that active situation, you have to at least inform parents about what’s going on with their children, because if this is something that’s going to be a large, life-changing decision, parents should know so parents can support their children,” he added.

Lavigne said she has come under attack on social media by members of the generally left-wing community.

She also said her relationship with daughter has become strained as a result of the ordeal.

“She’s having a hard time, because she thinks that she’s a boy, and I’m not allowing her to make life-altering decisions right now that are irreversible,” Lavigne said. “And I think, for her, that’s just me being an unsupportive mom.”

She added: “If she at 18 starts taking testosterone and decides to mutilate her body, am I going to express to her some concerns? Absolutely.

“Am I going to write my kiddo off? Never in a million years. This is my baby girl. At the end of the day, I’m not going to destroy my relationship with my child to be right,” Lavigne added.

The National Review said its multiple efforts to reach Belknap, Johnston, Shaff and Roy were unsuccessful. 

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