FORT KENT, Maine — The father of a Fort Kent Elementary School student told the school board that a teacher on staff encourages their students to lie to parents about their request that the kids use the non-binary honorific “Mx.” rather than “Miss,” “Ms.” or “Mr.” to address the educator.
Mark Forino, whose daughter and son attend fourth and fifth grades, respectively, made the accusations during a public meeting of the SAD 27 school board Monday evening.
At a time when school boards across the country are flooded with gender and sexuality issues in schools, this is the latest example of accusations being made at a local level.
“She is more concerned about teaching about her sexuality than she is [their subject],” Forino said. “It is none of our kids business if you’re married to a man or woman.”
Forino said the teacher, who was not present and who Bangor Daily News is not naming until more information is available, yelled at his fifth-grade son and a classmate on Friday when they referred to the person as “Miss” rather than “Mx.”
Forino also claimed the teacher asked students not to tell their parents that they insist on the gender-neutral honorific.
“You have a teacher at the school that feels it’s perfectly okay to be telling stuff to the students to be kept from their parents,” Forino told the board.
Asking or encouraging students to keep specific information or incidents from their parents is a violation and can lead to disciplinary action against teachers up to dismissal, according to SAD 27’s written policy.
Board Chair Keith Jandreau Jr. told Forino the procedure for filing a complaint about a teacher is to first address the teacher, then the principal and then the superintendent.
“This is the worst-case scenario to bring it up to the school board,” Jandreau said.
Superintendent Ben Sirois said he has not received any complaints from parents regarding the teacher.
“No one has brought any of this to my attention outside of one board member who had some questions early on in the year,” Sirois said.
Sirois said he will investigate the matter. School policy dictates that administrators investigate complaints about personnel before consideration or action by the board.
The teacher did not respond to requests for comment.