A teacher at an Indiana high school claims administrators forced him to resign over his refusal to call a transgender student by the student’s desired name.
According to ABC News, Brownsburg High School in Indiana has a policy requiring teachers to call transgender students their desired names over their birth names. When the orchestra teacher John Kluge refused to comply in the name of free speech, opting instead to simply use the student’s last name, administrators came down hard on him, he alleges.
“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,” Kluge told ABC affiliate WRTV.
Kluge claims that the school told him to follow the policy, resign, or face termination. After submitting a conditional resignation, he later withdrew it. However, a school district representative claims he voluntarily submitted the resignation, which they accepted.
Kluge recalled his meetings with administrators as “very threatening” and “bullying.”
“I enjoy being the orchestra teacher at Brownsburg,” Kluge wrote in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that the administration is not letting me come back and that they are unwilling to continue a reasonable accommodation that most people consider to be very common sense.”
The administration claims to have complied with state and federal laws. The Brownsburg Community School Corporation also has a rule stipulating that a student can use their preferred name only with a letter from a parent and a healthcare professional.
LGBTQ activists celebrate the firing and say Kluge’s attitude contributes to suicide rates.
“Showing a lack of support for transgender youth is what drives up the suicide rates of transgender youth in Indiana,” said Chris Paulsen, executive director of the LGBTQ organization Indiana Youth Group.