Teacher claims he was forced to resign for not using transgender - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Teacher claims he was forced to resign for not using transgender students' preferred names

The Indiana teacher argues his First Amendment rights were violated, while LGBTQ advocates say “a lack of respect” for transgender students leads them to consider suicide. (Source: WRTV/CNN) The Indiana teacher argues his First Amendment rights were violated, while LGBTQ advocates say “a lack of respect” for transgender students leads them to consider suicide. (Source: WRTV/CNN)

BROWNSBURG, IN (WRTV/CNN) – A former Indiana orchestra teacher believes his First Amendment rights were violated when his high school instructed teachers to refer to transgender students by their preferred names.

John Kluge taught orchestra at Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, IN, for four years.

He says at the beginning of this year, the school administration sent an email instructing teachers to use transgender student’s preferred names, as reflected in the school database, instead of by their birth names.

Kluge didn’t agree with the policy and wanted to call students by their last names instead.

But he says the school wouldn’t listen, only giving him three options: follow policy, resign or be fired.

"I feel the compelled speech of forcing a teacher to take a side on this very highly controversial topic is a violation of our First Amendment rights," Kluge said.

The teacher says he submitted a conditional resignation letter because he felt threatened after a meeting in which he claims he was told he’d be suspended pending termination at the beginning of May.

The resignation letter had a tentative date of May 29, but Kluge says he withdrew the resignation days before the deadline.

However, Kluge was ultimately terminated.

The teacher would like the school board to reconsider the termination.

Dr. Jim Bohrer, the parent of a student in the school’s orchestra, has defended the teacher’s decision to stand by his beliefs, saying he thinks Kluge was “coerced” and his position was “targeted.”

But Chris Paulsen, executive director of the LGBTQ organization Indiana Youth Group, disagrees with Bohrer and Kluge.

"Showing a lack of respect for transgender youth is what drives up the suicide rates of transgender youth in Indiana," Paulsen said. "Indiana leads the nation in youth that consider suicide, and things like this contribute to that."

The school district says Kluge voluntarily resigned prior to the end of the school year, they accepted the resignation and they are in full compliance with state and federal laws.

According to the Brownsburg Community School Corporation a student is only able to get their name changed in the school database with a letter from their parent(s) and a healthcare professional.

Copyright 2018 WRTV via CNN. All rights reserved.

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