KITTERY POINT, Maine (Christian Examiner) – One school counselor in Kittery Point, Maine, decided she knew better than parents, and some experts, about exposing young children to what at least one psychiatric authority describes as the "mental disorder" of transgender identity.
Dana Richerich, guidance counselor at Horace Mitchell Primary School forced kindergartners through third graders to listen to her read from a "picture book" about an imaginary transgender child—then sent an after-the-fact email about her activity to parents. It was part of a lesson about tolerance and acceptance, a school official said, adding that 20 of 22 classes were forced to be part of the indoctrination.
Failure to notify parents in advance was "an oversight," said Allyn Hutton, superintendent of the local schools.
But some community members suspect school officials knew parents would object to the controversial content.
"The story is about a young child 'with a boy's body but a girl's brain,' who goes through a childhood struggle of identifying with her true self," wrote Jesse Scardina for Seacoastonline.com.
Paul R. McHugh, the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University who served as psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975–2001, expressed his medical opinion about the transgender identity political agenda in a Wall Street Journal editorial last June.
McHugh said advocates of the transsexualism movement "are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention."
He said confusion about gender identity is "in one's mind" and science shows that in the majority of cases the confusion simply goes away.
"When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70 percent - 80 percent of them spontaneously lost those feelings," he said. "Some 25 percent did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned."
Meanwhile, research by the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Sweden—where the Nobel committee on physiology and medicine is located—indicates surgery is no the answer either.
In a long-term study that followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery, researchers found transgender individuals began to experience increasing mental difficulties about 10 years after having the surgery. Notably, this cohort experienced a suicide mortality rate almost 20 times more than the non-transgender population.
"The whole culture at Mitchell School is about teaching tolerance and respect," Hutton told local media. "The people presenting the lesson thought [the book] was one more piece of teaching that lesson.
"In retrospect," the school superintendent continued, "we understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions."
The story of the school's action received national attention after a disgruntled parent wrote to the Sean Hannity of Fox News.
"The concerned parent says her son had many questions for her after she asked him about the book," according Hannity.com. "For instance, he asked his mother if he was 'transgender' or not, and also whether or not he could be 'a girl in love with a girl.'
"The mother says that up until the time the topic was brought up in school, her son had never said anything like that before," Hannity said. "'I was taken aback by it,' the parent said. 'Being seven, once you put something in their mind they don't forget so easily.'"
FIERCE SEXUAL POLITICS
The email to parents contained a link to a blog post by Richerich who stressed the importance of homosexual rights and claims.
"Some may think primary school students are too young to worry about addressing issues surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students," she said. "Not so, experts say. It's never too early to begin teaching children about respecting differences."
In a public discussion about Richerich's controversial advocacy, homosexual activists "shouted down" objections by commenters on SeacoastOnline.com.
In the Kittery Point area, a community of about 10,000 in population, there are three schools and 10 churches, two of which are Baptist.
Justin Kauffman, pastor of Faith Baptist, told Christian Examiner his children were homeschooled and he was unaware of books used in the local schools.
But that does not mean he did not have something to say about the matter.
In a blog post written March 25, just days before the controversy took place March 30, Kauffman wrote about "Peace of Mind."
He referred his readers to 1 Peter 1 which he said is a passage that should remind Christians they are strangers in the land.
"Our first step in receiving peace of mind is humble submission," Kauffman wrote. "Give the problem to God, and understand His concern for you."
It was Kauffman's first blog post since last October.