In October, my wife and I went to Portland, Maine for a few days of vacation. There’s plenty to do there, but one of our target destinations was the International Cryptozoology Museum. It features everything from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster and even ghostly spectral moose roaming the forests of Maine. For the record, we had a great time there and I highly recommend it if you happen to be in town. But it’s also kind of weird, right?

Maybe. But it’s far from the weirdest thing going on in Portland, which seems to be competing with its namesake in Oregon for the title of Epicenter of Weirdness. The culture there is just a bit… different, and now their local school board is instituting a new policy which should cement that legacy even further. Our Townhall colleague Timothy Meads had a report on Saturday on new rules established by the school board which will not only allow school-aged children to pick which gender they’d like to be, but forbids teachers from arguing with them or even taking the side of the parents if they disapprove.

This week, the Portland, Maine School District adopted a comprehensive transgender policy for their students. But in an attempt to welcome and create a safe haven for all, the left-leaning city has ended up crafting an overreaching debacle that tramples upon parental rights.

On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the Portland Board of Education unanimously approved a motion that requires all Portland, ME schools implement annual staff training on gender issues, “use a student’s preferred name and personal pronoun, and take the student’s side at school if there is disagreement with a parent’s wishes.”

The intent is to create a space welcoming for transgender individuals and pupils questioning their identity. The main purpose is so teachers and students now respect whatever their peers choose to identify as. The policy is consistent with state law, which since 2014 has allowed boys and and girls to use whatever bathroom they please based on their identity.

Keep in mind that this applies to all the schools and all the students, not just the high school classes. Meads brings up one of the obvious questions which follows such a decision. What about the parents? Portland can now have second-grade boys showing up and declaring that they’re girls, and the teachers will have to refer to them as such even if the parents specifically object. So let’s get this straight… your school system won’t allow the nurse to dispense an aspirin to a student without specific directions from the parent. They can’t go on a class trip without mom or dad signing off on it. But they can decide that they’re a different gender and make the adult teachers treat them as such while overruling the parents on the matter?

This is yet more insanity. But Tim Meads brings up an equally important question regarding what, if anything, anyone should do about it. Do we want the federal government interceding in this madness? Sticking to conservative principles of the best government being that which is closest to the people it serves, the answer should still be no. The relationship between the parents, the children and the schools they attend is about as much of a local matter as one could imagine.

The residents of Portland have the ability to speak up if they find this insanity intolerable through interaction with the school board and local elections. And if the people have spoken in sufficient numbers on the subject, more sane parents who don’t want their children endangered in this fashion may have to take a tip from The Walking Dead and consider the more drastic measure of packing up and moving to a place with fewer zombies roaming the streets.

The exception to that practice comes if it can be conclusively shown that policies being enacted by the school board are genuinely harmful to the welfare of the children. Sadly, that will have to wait until we can receive some sort of clarification from the courts on where and when these unscientific and reckless practices cross the line into actual child abuse.

Until then, perhaps we should just discontinue the practice of naming towns and cities “Portland” for a while. It just never seems to work out well.