|Former music teacher John Kluge (right) with unnamed attorney in June, 2018. Kluge claims that transgender accommodations amount to religious discrimination.
via NBC News
A former music teacher has sued his school district (below the fold) for religious discrimination. Apparently, requiring proper forms of address for transgender students is abhorrent to a religious conservative. About a year ago I wrote about John Kluge and Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana. (At the time the soon-to-be-dead cat seemed funny.) Kluge claimed that he had a religious duty to deadname transgender students.
Not being able to abide by school policy to treat gender diverse students with kindness, Kluge resigned under pressure. Kluge then unresigned. The school district, having accepted the resignation, did not agree to retain Mr. Kluge. Kluge claimed religious discrimination.
About five or six months later, Mr. Kluge made a complaint to the EEOC which is required in advance of suing for employment discrimination in federal court. At the risk of over-generalizing, the EEOC investigates the complaints. Sometimes the EEOC mediates disputes. Sometimes the EEOC sues the employer on behalf of the complainant. In most cases — and in this case — the EEOC issues a “Right to Sue” letter giving the complainant 90 days to file a suit in federal court.
The foundation of religious disdain for transgender people lies in Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” In spite of scientific realities, the fanatical religious set takes that passage to mean that transgender people do not exist. The very idea that sex and gender are separate constructs in enough to drive a fundamentalist to prayer, … or Xanax.
A few thousand years after Genesis, Jesus said that “Render unto Caesar …” line. However, Mr. Kluge is determined to inflict his Genesis fetish on everyone else. I suspect that Kluge finds it necessary to deadname and misgender trans kids in order to demonstrate his disapproval; to shame these children. It is obnoxious and it is unnecessary. The very fact that Kluge attempted to rescind his resignation seems to show that he was willing — and able — to comply with the rules.
From a legal perspective I would think that Garcetti v. Ceballos would apply. In 2005 the Supreme Court ruled that the speech of public employees pursuant to their official duties is not protected by the First Amendment. Kluge is alleging religious discrimination, harassment and retaliation. “Kluge’s sincerely-held religious beliefs include a belief that it is sinful to promote transgender behavior.” My sincerely held religious beliefs … Never mind. I already used up a murdered cat.
When people deadname or misgender trans kids, they do violence to those kids. These are fragile children who are at substantial risk for self-harm. Basic kindness should guide adults and should prevail over self-proclaimed religious dogma. Every time I read the phrase “sincerely held religious beliefs” it is used to establish a flimsy reason to discriminate.
Mr. Kluge might respond that he is showing true Christian love through the truth where truth is arbitrary and part of a belief system. and inconsistent with medical science. It’ not just another example of Christian privilege but of Fundamentalist Christian vanity.