Federal Court Rules in Support of Transgender Students 

Decides teacher’s “last-names-only” policy caused “demonstrable emotional harm.”

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that an Indiana high school did not violate a teacher’s religious freedom by letting him go for using “last-names-only” with his students. The teacher, John Kluge, had several transgender students in his classes and claimed he was exercising his religious beliefs by avoiding using the first names and pronouns transgender students chose for themselves.

The school originally gave Kluge permission to do so but received a number of complaints about the practice from both students and faculty as time went on. The school then informed Kluge that he would be fired if he continued upholding his last-names-only practice, which caused Kluge to leave his position in 2018. Kluge then sued the school in 2019 for religious discrimination in the workplace.

A key legal aspect of workplace religious discrimination is the burden to the workplace. Kluge argued that there was no burden to the school for allowing him to use last-names-only, but the court agreed that his practice was disruptive to the school’s learning environment. “Kluge’s last-names-only practice stigmatized the transgender students and caused them demonstrable emotional harm,” Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for the court.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For Chief Judge Diane Sykes and the judges of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals as they hear and decide cases.
  • For each judge and justice in the federal judiciary as they determine the constitutionality of organizations’ and institutions’ actions regarding religious freedom.

Sources: Reuters, Education Week


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