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Teacher who refused to use transgender pupils’ chosen names resigns in emotional hearing

Jess Glass June 13, 2018

(Creative Commons)

An Indiana teacher who refused to call transgender pupils by their chosen names has officially resigned following a school board hearing.

John Kluge, a former orchestra teacher Brownsburg High School in Indiana, ignored a policy that meant staff must call trans students by their chosen name instead of their birth name.

Kluge said that having to abide by the policy violated his First Amendment Rights as it goes against his religious beliefs, and instead called pupils by their surnames.

Kluge originally called pupils by their surnames (David McNew/Getty)

However, just a few months ago, he was told that he would no longer be allowed to call students by their last names and would therefore have to implement the policy in his classrooms.

Kluge submitted a letter of resignation in May but later tried to withdraw it, only to find that it had already been accepted.

On Tuesday, the school board formally accepted his resignation in an emotional hearing where Kluge broke down into tears after hearing the decision.

Some students and community members supported Kluge (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty)

Speaking to the school board, Kluge said the issue was one of conscience and that he had not intended to cause problems.

“I wanted this to be a non-issue,” he said.

“I wanted simply to be able to teach my subject matter with a clean conscience.”

At the hearing, Kluge claimed he had been denied the opportunity to appeal his resignation.

He previously claimed he had originally filed the letter with instructions for it to be submitted on May 29, after the school year ended.

However, when he had a change of heart and tried to withdraw the resignation on May 25, he was informed it had already been processed and he discovered that he had been locked out of the district’s email system.

Kluge claimed he was blocked from accessing staff email (Creative Commons)

Many students and community members spoke out on Kluge’s behalf during the meeting, praising his work as a teacher.

However, other pupils criticised the orchestra teacher’s actions and how he justified them under religious expression.

One pupil told the board: “I think that Mr Kluge’s religious beliefs have absolutely no place in a public high school.

“I think that what he believes is morally just conflicts with not only with what I believe, what my parents believe, what my psychiatrist, therapist and doctor believe, and what the school board believes are morally just.”

According to NBC News, Kluge is now seeking legal advice in order to appeal the decision.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 23: Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, at the Stonewall Inn on February 23, 2017 in New York City. Activists and members of the transgender community gathered outside the historic LGTB bar to denounce the new policy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Many people protested at the meeting (Spencer Platt/Getty)

Kluge had previously said that he felt uncomfortable conforming to the policy because, in his opinion, it would appear as if he was endorsing said student identifying as transgender.

“I really do care for all of my students,” he told The Indianapolis Star on June 6.

“Which is why I don’t want to be compelled to speak in such a way that I believe I’ll be encouraging them in something that’s dangerous.”

More: current affairs, Education, Indiana, LGBT, LGBT rights, teaching, Trans, Transgender, US, US

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