Teacher Terminated For Refusing To Call Student Preferred Name
A former high school teacher is now claiming that he was asked to resign after he refused to address a transgender student by their preferred name, citing his Christian beliefs.
John Kluge, who taught orchestra at Brownsburg High School in Indiana for 4 years, failed to abide by a rule stating that teachers must call transgender students by their preferred names.
According to NBC-affiliate WTHR, he thought that he had passed the issue by making a deal with administrators that allowed him to call all students by their last names. Kluge told WTHR, “To call them according to a name that makes a claim that they are the opposite sex than what God has declared that they are from birth would go against my Christian believes.”
But administrators ending up going back on their deal, and forced him to resign. He claims that the policy — and his subsequent forced resignation — infringed on his freedom of speech.
“I feel the compelled speech of forcing a teacher to take a side on this very highly controversial topic is a violation of our First Amendment rights,” he told WRTV.
Kluge believes he adopted a “very common sense” position on the matter, and urged the school board to reconsider its decision. He says he would like to return to the classroom, if they will have him.
Students at Brownsburg High are allowed to change their preferred names so long as they have letters from a parent and a health care professional, according to ABC News. Sam Brinton of The Trevor Project, a non-profit serving LGBTQ youth, told WTHR that the population is at “high risk when they don’t feel respected and they are feeling all of these types of stigma and discrimination.”