(Friday, August 20, 2021) Today the Maine Department of Education launched a new website section devoted to improving school climate and support of LGBTQ+ students in Maine. 

“Every student in Maine has an irrefutable right to feel safe, recognized and valued in their school,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin (she/her). “The Department of Education is deeply committed to providing schools and educators the resources they need to ensure that theirs is a safe and welcoming climate, and to validating the voices and experiences of our LGBTQ+ students and school community members.”

The new website section highlights the DOE’s commitment to supporting “all LGBTQ+ identifying, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender queer and questioning students, families, and school staff.” Anyone can now log onto the site and find legal requirements, resources and best practices for students, schools, parents and communities seeking to make Maine more welcoming and affirming. Just go to https://www.maine.gov/doe/LGBTQ 

OUT Maine, a nonprofit that works statewide to build welcoming and affirming communities for Maine’s LGBTQ+ youth, and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a New England-based legal justice and advocacy organization, collaborated in this effort for over a year. The organizations commend the Department’s commitment to ensuring a fair and welcoming educational environment for all Maine students.  

“We are thrilled with and grateful for DOE’s strong statement of support for LGBTQ+ youth in Maine schools,” said Jeanne Dooley (she/her), Executive Director of OUT Maine. “The thoughtful collection of resources and specific guidance for school districts will be extremely helpful to schools that have been seeking DOE leadership on laws and best practices.” 

“We appreciate the Maine DOE’s support for LGBTQ+ young people, school staff, parents, and community members as valued members of the educational communities throughout our State,” said Mary Bonauto (she/her), the GLAD attorney who supported the efforts.  “The DOE recognizes that inclusive learning environments benefit everyone and contribute to student success at school and over a lifetime, and the resources they have compiled will contribute immensely to that endeavor for all students.  This is not just the right thing to do educationally, it is the law in Maine and across the United States.”

OUT Maine has an ambitious goal: to create more welcoming and affirming communities for Maine’s diverse queer youth in all of their intersectional identities by changing the very systems that serve them. For more information, visit www.outmaine.org

GLAD seeks to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation for all LGBTQI+ people, including those living with multiple marginalized identities, both in New England and nationally.  For more information, visit www.glad.org