Counselor fired over Gender Support Plan sues South Madison Schools
PENDLETON, Ind. (WISH) — Kathy McCord worked for South Madison Community School Corp. at Pendleton Heights High School as a counselor for 25 years.
She says she was fired after she did not conform to the district’s Gender Support Plan and spoke about it publicly to a reporter.
Now, she’s suing the school district.
The plan instructed school staff to keep students’ requests to change their gender or pronouns at school private from parents if the students asked. McCord says she believes it is wrong for information about their child’s gender identity to be kept from parents.
“And I became very concerned about that, and I voiced my concerns to my administration but was told that I had to follow that plan,” McCord said.
In March, I-Team 8 reported McCord sent an email to other teachers asking them to not support the Gender Support Plan that took effect in August. Also, McCord spoke to a reporter about the plan last year.
“Ultimately I was approached by a reporter who parents had contacted about this policy, and he wanted to ask me questions about the policy, and I answered his questions truthfully and confirmed them,” McCord said.
Her lawsuit filed Thursday claims a free speech violation.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing McCord. Vincent Wagner, one of her attorneys, said, “The core claim is public employees like Kathy can’t be fired for speaking out on what’s going on in the school, for things that matter in their community and they can’t be forced to give up their core beliefs to keep their job.”
Opponents of disclosing gender and pronoun change to parents when a child is uncomfortable say it could pose a safety risk to students. McCord believes parents should be involved in all major decisions regarding their children.
“You know as a Christian we know god gives us the children to take care of and as parents that’s what we’re supposed to do until they’re ready to do that themselves,” McCord said. “And I’ve experienced that a lot with parents at school and worked with those parents through some of these trials. And as a parent, I can’t imagine how upset I would be to find out my child is going through a difficult time like that and I was kept out of that.”
Multiple people spoke in support of McCord at school board meetings over the course of her suspension and firing. At least one person spoke in support of transgender people.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Indianapolis.
McCord says she wants to become an educator again.