John Kluge, an Indiana high school band teacher, says he was fired from his job because he refused to address a transgender student by their preferred name. Doing so would have violated his Christian beliefs, according to ABC News.
Kluge had, until this year, been the orchestra teacher at Brownsburg High School in suburban Indianapolis. However, that all changed when a transgender student came into his orbit. In order to protect the student’s privacy, the media is not saying whether the youngster was transitioning male to female, or vice versa. Therefore, the Inquisitr will use gender-neutral pronounces to refer to the student for the remainder of this article.
The student had asked to be addressed by their preferred name, rather than the name on their birth certificate, and Brownsburg High School required teachers to do so, according to written policy. Kluge, however, felt that, as a Christian, addressing the student by their preferred name was tantamount to taking a side on the issue of transgender rights, and he declined to do so, according to Huffington Post.
“I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle. I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing.”
He offered instead to address the student simply by their last name, a request that he describes as “reasonable.”
And Kluge was allowed to do that, at least initially, he claims. But earlier this year, he says he was told that he could not longer do so. What’s more, he claims that he was brought in to a meeting with his superiors, a meeting which claims was “very threatening and bullying.” At that meeting, he says, he was told he could either comply with the school’s transgender policy and address their student by their preferred name, or be fired.
What happened next is a matter of dispute. Kluge claims that he submitted a “conditional resignation letter with a tentative date,” and then four days later asked to withdraw it. However, he soon found himself locked out of the school’s email system, and learned from colleagues that his job had been listed as available on the district’s website. In other words, he’d been fired.
As is almost always the case when it comes to employment matters in public schools, the school isn’t saying much, citing employee privacy. In a statement to the media, a district spokesperson said only that Kluge had resigned, and that his resignation had been accepted.
Kluge says he plans to appeal what he calls his firing at a school board meeting later this month.