I love Maine. I spent countless weekends in The Pine Tree State when I was a kid, visiting the Rangeley and Rockland areas regularly. It holds a special place in my heart not just for the rocky shores or the whoopie pies, but the people. There is a simplicity about life in the most monochromatic state in the union that my parents and I have found to be incredibly accepting of gay people. My parents live in Maine now, operating a bed and breakfast.
When I see a headline about a high school coach in Maine — my adopted home — encouraging his football players to tease an opponent about having two moms, it undercuts everything I know about Maine.
Neighboring New Hampshire’s motto is “Life Free Or Die.” I’ve always found the same attitude in Maine. It’s a complicated social structure, from conservative values to the reliance on government programs. The population owns a lot of guns, for hunting and self-protection, yet has embraced left-leaning social movements like the push for same-sex marriage. In 2012 the state took the extraordinary step of legalizing marriage equality by a popular vote.
Mainers are good people.
So when I see a story like the one coming out of Gray-New Gloucester High School a half hour north of Portland, it sinks my heart.
According to the Portland Press Herald, the head football coach instructed his players to taunt an opponent based on the sexual orientation of his parents.
The varsity football coach at Gray-New Gloucester High has resigned after allegations arose that he instructed his players to taunt a Yarmouth player about having two mothers as parents.
The parents, Lynn and Stephanie Eckersley-Ray, say Gray-New Gloucester coach Duane Greaton told his players to taunt their son every time he was tackled during a game last Friday by saying, “Who’s your daddy?”
It’s bad enough that any football coach would instruct a player to commit a foul (in this case, one of the worst kinds of fouls you could commit — unsportsmanlike conduct). But to focus that unsportsmanlike conduct on the sexual orientation of anyone involved is particularly egregious. It is not becoming of a Mainer.
If true, I’m glad the coach has resigned. No coach who uses the race, gender, religion or sexual orientation of anyone to attack them has any place in today’s educational system.
Hopefully this will serve a lesson to other coaches that this kind of disgraceful behavior will not be tolerated by the educational system in America going forward.