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Teacher ‘terminated’ after transgender-name policy change files lawsuit

Former Brownsburg teacher files lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — John Kluge was the orchestra teacher at Brownsburg High School until the end of the 2017-18 school year … until, as he said, he was forced out.

“I was terminated from Brownsburg Community School Corp. because, as you heard, Brownsburg exalted sexual liberty over religious liberty by coercing teachers into speaking in a way that promoted a controversial sexual agenda rather than teaching the course content and loving the students,” Kluge said in a news conference Wednesday at the Indiana War Memorial. 

A few transgender students had chosen new names. Calling those students by their new names was, according to Kluge, a violation of his religious freedom. 

“Brownsburg mandated that all teachers start calling transgender students by a transgender first name and not their legal name,” Kluge said. 

Kluge asked the school for a reasonable accommodation or a way to make everyone happy and not offend him or the students.

The school agreed that at the beginning of the 2017-18 year he could call his students by their last names. The agreement didn’t last long, and, by the middle of the year, Kluge said, he was asked to resign or face termination.

The lawsuit claims he was coerced to resign.

He said he hopes, if the lawsuit is successful, that others are not forced into similar circumstances.

“So that employees are not coerced like I was into promoting a sexual agenda and speaking in a way that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs but are instead allowed to perform their jobs and do the work they were hired to do.”

The Brownsburg school district sent a statement to News 8 when Kluge resigned. That statement said, in part, “The administration accepted his resignation. The Brownsburg Board of School Trustees approved this resignation at the regular monthly business meeting on June 11, 2018.”

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