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In a victory for concerned public school parents across the country, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order overturning an attempt from school administrators in Maine to ban a vocal critic from district property for expressing his disagreement with their policies.
According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon, the controversy began after conservative activist Shawn McBreairty spoke at meetings of the Regional School Unit 22 in Hampden in an effort to protest, among other things, library books he argued contained pornography and promoted transgenderism.
“The U.S. District Court for Maine issued a temporary restraining order allowing Shawn McBreairty back on school property after the father filed a lawsuit claiming the ban violated his constitutional rights. The court ruled that the First Amendment protects McBreairty’s comments at board meetings, where he has spoken out against sexualized school library books. The court also determined that the school board selectively applied its speech policy, which prohibits'”vulgarity,’ against McBreairty,” the Free Beacon reported.
The report added:
The school district’s criminal trespass notice against McBreairty is just the latest example of a school board attempting to silence parents who speak out against controversial sex and gender curricula. The National School Boards Association, which represents more than 90,000 school board members, called on the FBI last year to investigate parents who spoke out against sexualized lesson plans as potential domestic terrorists. In April, a board chair barred a Georgia mother from school board meetings after she protested sexually explicit books at her son’s middle school. Virginia’s Prince William County School Board issued a rule limiting public comment, which parents said was an attempt to stifle debate around controversial issues.
The Hampden, Maine, school district had barred McBreairty from all virtual and in-person school gatherings, the Free Beacon reported last week. The criminal trespass notice came after McBreairty spoke out at board meetings against school library books that focus on transgenderism, including The Other Boy, the story of a 12-year-old who tries to conceal that he is transgender when his family moves to a new town, and All Boys Aren’t Blue, which has been removed from libraries in at least eight states for concerns about “sexually graphic material.”
Court Overrules School District That Banned Father Who Exposed Obscene Library Books https://t.co/swQ3HokyWc
— Andrew Kosmowski (@BroAJK) July 24, 2022
Judge Torreson said in her opinion that “Here, it is hard to shake the sense that the school board is restricting the speech because the board disagrees with both McBreairty’s opinions and the unpleasantness that accompanies them,” characterizing the district’s actions as a potential act of unlawful viewpoint discrimination.
While the ruling is an encouraging win for parents, McBreairty’s attorney, Marc Randazza, said the district’s speech policies remain troublingly vague and capable of ensnaring others due to their prohibition on “vulgarity,” “gossip,” and “irrelevance.”
“There’s a policy against criticizing any school employees or officials,” Randazza explained, noting that a parent can “go there and say nice things about him, but you can’t criticize him. Tell me how in the heck that passes the First Amendment muster.”
“I’m trying to be the tip of the sword for people in Maine because cancel culture is so venomous here,” McBreairty told the Free Beacon. “It’s time that students, parents, taxpayers, and teachers start to find their own voice.”
On Monday, Randazza commended the judge as “principled.”
“Government apparatchiks can’t banish people from public life because they don’t like being challenged,” he said in a statement. “Serving in the government means you have to accept criticism. If you can’t do that, you have no business in that position. I’m very impressed with how much work the judge put into her ruling, upholding the First Amendment rights of someone with whom I presume she does not personally agree. But that’s what a principled judge does.”
“The difference between me and my client and the defendants in this case is that, in the future, when someone’s trying to stifle their freedom of expression, I’ll be there to defend their rights as well. These censorious communists would never stand up for an opponent’s speech,” he continued. “They are not just power drunk, but Peter O’Toole level schnockered out of their minds. I hope that this slap across their totalitarian faces sobers them up and they start behaving like American government officials, not soviets.”