A teacher in Brownsburg, Indiana says he was forced to resign after refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred name.
John Kluge, the former orchestra teacher at Brownsburg High School, claims he was ‘essentially fired’ for refusing to use a trans student’s chosen name because it went against his religion.
The announcement of Kluge’s resignation came on Monday, 11 June at a school board meeting. During the meeting, Kluge attempted to rescind his resignation.
‘I wanted to be able to teach my subject matter with a clean conscience,’ Kluge said when he took the podium at the meeting. ‘You’ve approved my resignation without me being able to appeal my resignation.’
In addition to Kluge, 45 other community members voiced their opinions about the situation. This included a transgender student from Kluge’s orchestra class.
‘Everybody advocating in support for Kluge needs to think about what is like to be a transgender person and what it is like to live your life knowing that there are people that would say that you are not an actual human being and actively disrespect you,’ said trans student Aidyn Sucec.
However, many parents were upset about an internal document that outlines the school district’s policies on transgender students. This policy states students can request to have their name changed at school with permission from a parent and doctor. Parents who disagree with this policy claim they never heard of it and were unaware it was being enforced.
‘I’m sorry I know I sound like I’m ticked off because I am I’m fed up with this stuff from you guys. You are our elected officials. You work for us and the administration works for you so that makes you all responsible,’ parent Jeff Gracey said.
Official school board response
The Brownsburg Community School Corporation issued the following statement upon Kluge’s resignation:
‘The Brownsburg Community School Corporation received a voluntary resignation from John Kluge prior to the end of the 2017-18 school year. The administration accepted his resignation. The Brownsburg Board of School Trustees approved this resignation at the regular monthly business meeting on June 11, 2018. Brownsburg Community School Corporation complies with all state and federal laws.’
‘I think that Mr. Kluge’s religious beliefs have absolutely no place in a public high school,’ Sucec said. ‘I think what he believes is morally just conflicts [sic] with what not only I believe, what my parents believe, what my psychiatrist, therapist, and doctor believe and the school board believe are morally just.’
Learn more about Kluge’s resignation in the videos below: