An Ohio teacher is suing her former school after she was forced to quit her job for not using students’ new gender identity pronouns, she says.
Vivian Geraghty, 24, a former English teacher, has filed a lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Middle School south of Columbus. She says district officials forced her out even though her Christian religious beliefs prevent her from using students’ preferred pronouns.
The teacher’s lawsuit, filed last week in federal court, accuses the school of retaliating against her for exercising her right to free speech as well as violating her right to practice her Christian religion. The suit also names the education board and two school district employees.
Geraghty quit her teaching position about a week later on August 26, according to her lawsuit.
The problem started when two students asked Geraghty to use new names that align “with their new gender identities rather than their legal names.” One of the students also requested that teachers use a preferred pronoun, the lawsuit alleges.
Geraghty went to the principal in hopes of reaching a solution, but the principal and his superior, the director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, told her “she would be required to put her beliefs aside as a public servant,” according to the lawsuit. She was allegedly accused of insubordination and told that continuing to teach without participating with the students’ gender transitions would “not work in a district like Jackson.”
She was informed that if she would not participate, she must resign immediately, the lawsuit claims.
Geraghty says she attempted to tell the principal that forcing her to resign was a violation of her free speech, but the principal repeated that as a public servant she must “set [her] religious convictions aside” or resign. The principal’s superior then handed her a laptop and told her to draft her letter of resignation immediately, the lawsuit says.
Geraghty is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which filed the lawsuit on her behalf.
“No school official can force a teacher to set her religious beliefs aside in order to keep her job,” said ADF attorney Logan Spena. “The school tried to force Vivian to recite as true the school’s viewpoint on issues that go to the foundation of morality and human identity, like what makes us male or female, by ordering her to personally participate in the social transition of her students. The First Amendment prohibits that abuse of power.”
Geraghty is not the first teacher to be disciplined over refusing to affirm a student’s new gender identity.
In March, a veteran teacher in Kansas, also a Christian, sued her school after she was suspended under the district’s bullying and diversity and inclusion policies. That teacher was also denied the religious exemption she requested for the district’s new policy that teachers must use students’ preferred names.
Back in 2018, a Christian teacher in Indiana lost his job after the school district decided to stop letting him refer to all students by their last names so he would not have to affirm “transgenderism.”