A student has spoken out after a teacher at a US school refused to call transgender pupils by their preferred names.
John Kluge, a former orchestra teacher Brownsburg High School in Indiana, ignored a policy that means staff must call students by their chosen name instead of their birth name.
Kluge claimed he was forced to resign for refusing to stick to the policy.
But now, one of Kluge’s ex-students has come forward and defended the policy, highlighting the high suicide rates for trans people.
“School will be a more comfortable environment,” second year student Aidyn Sucec told RTV6. “I think that it’s dangerous to have a teacher trying to enforce his religious beliefs under the guise of morality on students.”
In response to the policy, Sucec said Kluge began calling all pupils by their last names.
“He started calling us by our last names, it was one of those things where he was technically treating all the students the same, but everybody was aware of why he was doing it,” Sucec said. “We all knew that it was because of the three trans students.”
Sucec added that Kluge’s actions were harmful to trans students.
“He said that he doesn’t want to condone students going down a path where 20 percent of trans people try to kill themselves but I don’t think he recognises the people like him and doing things like this are the reason that 20 percent of trans people try to kill themselves,” Sucec said. “I know he thinks he’s doing the right thing but he’s not listening to the actual people this affects.”
Kluge previously spoke out about his decision to leave the school.
He told RTV6: “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.”
The former teacher added that he was forced to resign because he would have otherwise been fired by the school for not obeying the policy, which was introduced at the beginning of this year.
Kluge later released a statement to RTV6.
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He said: “I love serving the kids in the community and would like to continue teaching at Brownsburg.
“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.
“Again I appreciate teaching at Brownsburg High School and hope the board will reconsider terminating me.”
Supporters of Kluge are asking people to sign a letter addressed to the school’s board, which calls for Kluge to be given his job back.