An Indiana high school counselor fired for speaking out about the school district’s transgender student policy is now suing the district.
Kathy McCord filed a lawsuit in federal court last week against the South Madison Community Schools Corporation near Indianapolis.
The lawsuit alleges that the school district violated her First Amendment rights by retaliating against her for voicing her disagreement with the district’s “Gender Support Plan.”
McCord, who has spent 37 years in education, was fired from Pendleton Heights High School in March after revealing details about the strategy, which involved concealing a student’s new gender identity from their parents.
Initially, McCord went along with the policy despite her qualms.
“I prayed about it a lot … and I went along with it at that time,” McCord later said.
On August 16, McCord sent an email to teachers who had a student in their classes who was adopting a new gender identity.
Her email informed the teachers that the student would like to go by “he/him” pronouns and a new name, but the student’s family was not supportive of the gender transition, so “any correspondence home or in reference to the student” should use the student’s old name.
“Please make sure to make a note of this in your sub folder,” McCord wrote to the teachers.
Later though, McCord began to feel differently.
“But when it started back up in the fall of ’22, I just felt like when that email came out, that God really reached out and said, this happened, now you’ve got to deal with it. I just didn’t feel like it was something I could let go and not simply answer the questions,” the former counselor said.
“I just felt like I had to do more for this situation as it’s unfolding across the country,” McCord said.
Days after McCord’s email came to light, dozens of concerned parents and other community members showed up at the December 8 school board meeting.
Tonight at 7pm, parents will be showing up to the SMCSC Admin building in Pendleton, IN, to protest the firing of Kathy McCord—a counselor who revealed and denounced a hidden transgender policy at the school. pic.twitter.com/AqwFeclWsx
— Tony Kinnett (@TheTonus) March 2, 2023
At that meeting, the school board struggled to answer questions from the public about where the policy came from and who in the district was responsible for overseeing it.
“So my kid needs permission to ingest a cough drop, but they can change their gender at school without my consent, notifying me?” one man asked. “That is crazy. Do you see the absurdity in that?”
Another employee at Pendleton Heights High School, teacher Amanda Keegan, ended up resigning in part to protest the gender policy.
“When I had to look at that parent, and feel like I was lying to that parent … I was sick to my stomach. I can’t lie to parents. I can’t do that again,” Keegan told The Daily Signal in December.
McCord is being represented by the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“Kathy knows that kids do best when schools and parents work together. But South Madison’s harmful policy leaves parents in the dark,” said ADF Senior Counsel Vincent Wagner.
“South Madison violated Kathy’s rights by forcing her to contradict her religious beliefs and participate in this policy. Schools can’t keep secrets from parents about their children’s mental health and wellbeing,” Wagner said.