Judge Rules Against Teacher Who Refused to Follow Trans Policy
Brownsburg Indiana: A federal judge in Indianapolis has ruled against a former Brownsburg teacher who said he was forced to resign after refusing to call transgender students by their chosen names.
John M. Kluge, a former music and orchestra teacher at Brownsburg High School (“BHS”), filed the lawsuit against Brownsburg Community School Corporation (“BCSC”) and several of its employees.
The judge on Monday rejected former orchestra teacher’s allegations of religious discrimination and retaliation against the Brownsburg Community School Corporation.
According to the judge, Kluge’s “religious opposition to “transgenderism” is directly at odds with [the district’s] policy of respect for transgender students, which is grounded in supporting and affirming those students.”
The judge also concluded that a public school corporation “has an obligation to meet the needs of all of its students, not just a majority of students or the students that were unaware of or unbothered by Mr. Kluge’s practice of using last names only.”
In July, Kluge told the principal he could not follow the name policy, and the principal gave him three options: follow the policy; resign; or be suspended, pending termination. Kluge refused to follow the policy or resign, so he was suspended, the court filing said.
According to the filing, he alleged that he was discriminated against and ultimately forced to resign because his sincerely-held religious beliefs prevented him from following a school policy that required him to address transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns and use of the restroom congruent with their gender expression.
During the summer of 2017, BCSC began to allow transgender students and students experiencing gender dysphoria1 to use the restroom of their choice and to change their names and genders in the BCSC database known as PowerSchool. Name changes
in the PowerSchool database required a letter from the student’s parent(s) and a letter from a healthcare professional.
BCSC employees, including Mr. Kluge, were instructed to refer to students using the names and genders listed in the PowerSchool database, which Mr. Kluge believes constitute preferred names “based upon the students’ gender dysphoria.”
In July 2017, Mr. Kluge informed BCSC Superintendent Dr. James Snapp that the requirement that he use the students’ names as listed in PowerSchool (“the Policy”) conflicted with his religious beliefs against affirming gender dysphoria, and Dr. Snapp responded that Mr. Kluge could either “use the transgender names, say he was forced to resign from BCSC, or be terminated without pay.”
Because Mr. Kluge refused to use the names listed in PowerSchool, Dr. Snapp initiated an administrative leave of absence for Mr. Kluge and Dr. Bret Daghe, the principal of BHS, “issued Mr. Kluge an ultimatum . . . mandating the use of
transgender preferred names, and giving Mr. Kluge [three days] to decide if he would comply.”
Mr. Kluge then requested “an accommodation for his religious beliefs,” and proposed the solution of “addressing all students by their last names only, similar to a sports coach.”
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