Counselor fired over Pendleton school’s gender plan sues in federal court
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A counselor fired from Pendleton Heights High School in March has sued the school district in federal court.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the district court in Indianapolis.
Before the South Madison School Board fired Kathy McCord, she was put on administrative leave in December for telling other teachers at the Pendleton school not to support the district’s new Gender Support Plan. The plan, which began in August, provides students with a confidential document they can fill out alerting school officials of their preferred pronouns. In the district’s plan, students can also choose to keep that information confidential from their parents or school staff.
Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent McCord, a 37-year educator, in the 72-page lawsuit. The conservative Christian legal advocacy group has sought to expand Christian practices within public schools and in government, to outlaw abortion, and to curtail rights for LGBTQ people.
The lawsuit says McCord’s First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated with her firing. She is seeking reinstatement to her job, back pay and monetary reparations for damages upon reinstatement, and a permanent injunction to prohibit McCord from participating in the Gender Support Plan.
On May 4, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law a requirement that schools notify a parent if a student requests a name or pronoun change at school, one of the final bills approved in a legislative session that had targeted LGBTQ+ people in the state, especially students.
Indiana’s name and pronouns law, which goes into effect July 1, would require school officials to provide written notification to a child’s parent or guardian within five business days of the child asking to be called a different “pronoun, title, or word,” according to the bill. It also prohibits, from prekindergarten through third grade, instruction on “human sexuality,” something that is not defined in the bill.
“I believe in parental rights,” Holcomb said in a statement. “I also just believe its commonsense that sex education should not be taught in prekindergarten through third grade.”
Also, Holcomb in April signed into law a ban on gender-affirming care for minors in Indiana