Judge rules against Ind. teacher who claims he was forced to resign for not using student’s preferred pronouns
UPDATED 8:34 AM PT – Saturday, July 17, 2021
A federal judge has ruled against an Indiana high school teacher who claimed he was forced to resign after rejecting a school’s transgender policies by refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.
In a ruling earlier this week, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson concluded the 2018 resignation of Brownsburg High School teacher John Kluge was accepted by the administration and the school district complied with all state and federal laws. Kluge maintained that he only submitted a letter of resignation because school officials threatened to fire him after they reneged on an original compromise.
That agreement permitted Kluge to refer to students by their last name, rather than their preferred pronouns as required in a newly enacted school policy. Kluge found this solution fostered a harmonious and undistracted learning atmosphere.
Federal judge rejects lawsuit by former Brownsburg teacher John Kluge.
He alleged religious discrimination and retaliation for being forced to resign after refusing to call transgender students by their preferred name@WISH_TV @93wibc pic.twitter.com/9ywkJ9oaK6
— Brady Gibson (@bradygibson) July 12, 2021
However, Kluge claimed that the school violated his constitutionally protected religious freedom when they walked back their original agreement, claiming they forced him to use student’s preferred first names. For Kluge’s attorney, the school’s decision begged the question of whether a government entity like a public school is in the position to force an employee to directly go against his or her religious beliefs.
“There is sufficient federal law that says they must make reasonable accommodation if he has reasonable beliefs,” said Kluge’s attorney, Roscoe Stovall.
However, Judge Magnus-Stinson concluded this week that the school could not accommodate Kluge’s religious beliefs without “sustaining undue hardship.” She added Kluge’s religious opposition to transgenderism is directly at odds with the school district’s policies aimed at affirming transgender students.
The ruling comes as public schools across the country have considered adopting similar transgender policies and for some, this week’s decision has threatened teachers’ ability to oppose these measures in the future.