Indiana teacher forced out for rejecting trans pronouns files suit to affirm religious rights – LifeSite

INDIANAPOLIS (LifeSiteNews) – An Indiana music teacher forced to resign over his objections to referring to gender-confused students by inaccurate pronouns filed a motion asking a federal court to affirm his right to a religious accommodation under federal law.

In 2018, former Brownsburg High School music teacher John Kluge was pressured into resigning after the Brownsburg Community School Corporation (BCSC) rescinded the accommodation it had reached with him to allow him to refer to students exclusively by their last names instead of preferred gender pronouns or opposite-sex first names.

“I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle,” he said at the time. “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.” Kluge added that he was not attempting to force his beliefs on students but “wanted to present an environment where I wasn’t going to push one way or the other.”

Kluge sued, and the case has since been working its way through the courts, most recently when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a lower court’s judgment against him this summer. 

On November 3, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced that it has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana seeking summary judgment “that the district violated his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by failing to accommodate his sincerely held religious beliefs in the absence of undue harm and by retaliating against him for insisting on such accommodation.”

“District officials admit they never offered Mr. Kluge any alternate accommodation for his sincerely held religious beliefs,” the document argues. “Instead, district officials forced Mr. Kluge to resign, first assuring him that he could do so conditionally and then forcing his resignation over his objection and attempts to rescind it.” 

It says that the only justification school officials gave was the “negative reactions of a few third parties (i.e., teachers, students, parents) to Mr. Kluge’s religious beliefs and that they were being accommodated,” which his attorneys argue “do not represent an undue hardship for the district, particularly in the context of its overall business.”

Kluge “earned a reputation as a fun, engaging teacher who genuinely cared about his students, and the orchestra performed better than ever. But these results were not the school district’s highest priority,” the brief adds.

“Federal law protects employees’ ability to live and work according to their religious beliefs. Yet the Brownsburg school district ignored the law, deciding Mr. Kluge’s religious views couldn’t be tolerated, revoked his religious accommodation based on the grumblings of a few, and forced him to resign or be fired,” ADF senior counsel Travis Barham said. “The school district’s actions violate Title VII, a federal law prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of religion. As the Supreme Court recently affirmed in Groff, employers must accommodate employees’ religious practices unless doing so imposes undue hardships on their overall operations. We urge the court to apply Groff to uphold Mr. Kluge’s right to religious accommodation under Title VII.”

Across the country, teachers and students alike have been subjected to penalties for “misgendering,” i.e., neglecting or refusing to refer to others by opposite-sex pronouns despite the fact that evidence shows “affirming” gender confusion carries serious harms, especially when done with impressionable children who lack the mental development, emotional maturity, and life experience to consider the long-term ramifications of the decision.

Studies find that more than 80% of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence, and that even full “reassignment” surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm and suicide — and may even exacerbate it, including by reinforcing their confusion and neglecting the actual root causes of their mental strife.

The danger of keeping parents in the dark about such situations is grimly illustrated in the story of Yaeli Martinez, a 19-year-old to whom “gender transitioning” was touted as a possible cure for her depression in high school, supported by a high school counselor who withheld what she was going through from her mother. The troubled girl killed herself after trying to live as a man for three years.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration endorses surgical and chemical “transitioning” of children, refuses to oppose teachers hiding child “transitions” from parents, and has proposed tying federal education dollars to public schools’ obedience to LGBT “nondiscrimination.”