John Kluge decided that his overreaching religious beliefs were more important than the health of transgender students
John Kluge decided that his overreaching religious beliefs were more important than the health of transgender students | via local Fox affiliate

John Kluge was a music teacher at Brownsburg High School in Indiana. He refused to use correct names and pronouns because doing so violated his religious beliefs.

In 2017 the Brownsburg Community School District ruled that teachers were required to use gender-appropriate pronouns and the chosen names of transgender students. John Kluge, an orchestra and music teacher, refused to comply with the policy because it “violated his sincerely held religious beliefs©.”

In 2018, the school principal gave Kluge three options: Follow the policy, resign or get canned. The record is a bit murky but, apparently, Kluge agreed to resign at the end of the school year (and contract). The principal agreed to furnish him with references to obtain a new job.

“Misgendering or deadnaming vulnerable kids is cruel and unacceptable.”

Kluge attempted to withdraw his resignation. The written regulations require that resignations are final and may not be withdrawn. At the same time the schmuck stated that he could not fully comply with the name/pronoun policy.

In June, 2019, John Kluge sued the school district. The case is captioned: Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corporation.

Several prominent organizations moved to file amici curiae briefs. The judge determined that those briefs were unnecessary (see opinion conclusion below). Among these organizations were the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Academy or Pediatrics.

The judge determined that the school board was obliged to accommodate Kluge. However, the obligation could not overcome the importance of the policy.

John Kluge is an elder of his church. Among his claims were that being transgender is a sin and it was his duty as a Christian not to encourage the sin which he would be doing if he complied with the policy.

While Judge Magnus Stinson didn’t go there, the policy is based on the welfare of trans kids. In simplest terms, the more they are supported in their gender; the healthier they are. Misgendering or deadnaming vulnerable kids is cruel and unacceptable.

“I would not pop any champagne just yet.”

The conclusion of United State District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s ruling reads:

So, what's in a name? This Court is ill-equipped to answer that question definitively, but for the reasons articulated in this Order, it concludes that a name carries with it enough importance to overcome a public school corporation's duty to accommodate a teacher's sincerely held religious beliefs against a policy that requires staff to use transgender students' preferred names when supported by a parent and health care provider. Because BCSC did not coerce Mr. Kluge's resignation by misrepresentation and could not accommodate Mr. Kluge's religious beliefs without sustaining undue hardship, and because Mr. Kluge has failed to make a meaningful argument or adduce evidence in support of a claim for retaliation, BCSC's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, [120], is GRANTED and Mr. Kluge's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, [112], is DENIED. And because empirical data from non-parties concerning the importance of honoring a transgender student's preferred name and pronouns was not necessary to resolve the issues currently before the Court, Movants' Motion for Leave to File Brief of Amici Curiae, [131], is also DENIED. Finally, BCSC's Motion to Vacate and Continue Final Pre-Trial Conference and Trial, [156], is DENIED AS MOOT. Final judgment shall issue accordingly

I would not pop any champagne just yet. While no notice of appeal has been filed Alliance Defending Freedom (an anti-LGBTQ hate group) might jump on this. ADF’s calculus includes whether or not they can raise more money off of a case than they expend.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.