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Teacher awarded $60k settlement in lawsuit over gender-neutral pronouns

Joseph McCormick May 29, 2016
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A trans teacher has won a $60,000 settlement in a case which arose when staff members allegedly refused to use appropriate pronouns.

Leo Soell will receive the settlement from the Gresham-Barlow School District.

As well as paying the settlement, the district has also agreed to install gender-neutral restrooms in its facilities within three years.

Fellow staff at Hall Elementary School refused to use “they” to address Soell, who doesn’t identify as male or female.

Soell said their colleagues failed to use the appropriate pronouns, and instead referred to them as “Miss Soell”, “she” and “lady”.

The teacher also said they were banned from speaking to students about their gender identity.

They say they were told by the school to respond, if asked by students, saying: “We all have private lives, and it would not be appropriate to talk about our private lives during the school day.”

The teacher filed a complaint about co-workers, but despite an investigation by the district, no action was taken.

This led to a lawsuit being filed by Soell against the district.

“I actually feel safe now,” Soell told Oregon Live after the settlement.

“There will always be people who push the boundaries, but I’m not worried about them anymore because I know that my district supports me.”

Soell began their employment at Hall Elementary in 2013, but came out earlier in 2016.

Since the settlement they said no staff members had used incorrect pronouns.

This school, where 19 percent of the student body identifies as transgender, has taken some amazing steps to help promote equality.

More: bathroom, pronouns, teacher, US

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