School Board Forced To Grant Teacher Religious Accommodation
This is one of those stories where there is a winner, but also losers. In one instance common sense won, yet some situations still exist where common sense is still on hold.
First, let’s celebrate the win. A teacher in the school district in Terre Haute, Indiana, who’s name is being protected, complained when a girl pretending to be a boy was placed under his supervision. The problem arose because the teacher supervises the boys locker room, which means the girl would be dressing and undressing in front of him. That is against his moral and religious convictions.
When the teacher originally requested a religious accommodation it was denied by the Vigo County School Corporation. However, it was then when the Liberty Counsel got involved. Liberty Counsel is a tax-exempt religious liberty organization that engages in litigation related to evangelical Christian values. Liberty Counsel was founded in 1989 by its chairman Mathew Staver and its president Anita L. Staver, who are attorneys and married to each other.
The counsel penned a letter to the board and explained that the teacher has:
“sincerely held Christian religious, scientific and moral beliefs about the nature of sex and sexuality; as well as about the rights of the boys and their parents.
His religious rights would be violated if he was to observe a female who is not his wife in a state of nudity or undress, or “cause minor boys to unknowingly undress in front of and be observed by a minor female.”
“The school district cannot force a male P.E. teacher to supervise a biological girl in the boys’ locker room where she undresses for gym class. Neither may a school force a teacher to lie to the boys and hide this situation from parents. And certainly, a public school cannot ignore religious accommodations which are protected by law. The school must reverse course and protect the rights and privacy of students, teachers, and parents,” Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel Chief Explained.
Liberty Counsel also wrote a letter directly to Superintendent Christopher Himsel and reminded him of Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Well, something worked, because the district reversed their decision and confirmed that the teacher would no longer have to supervise the girl.
That’s a good common-sense win and we commend the officials for their understanding in that situation of what was right and what was wrong. However, they need to extend that understanding, common sense and compassion even further as the liberty counsel pointed out.
“However, the school district continues to not inform the boys that a biological girl would be undressing with them in the open locker room area. School officials also have not informed parents about the situation.”
“Notably, the male teacher was informed by the school district that the girl he was to supervise is being chemically transitioned.”
So the Counsel advised the district:
“that Indiana law forbids female genital mutilation. If the district has knowledge of any intent to chemically sterilize or surgically mutilate this child in violation of Indiana law, it is obligated to report this child abuse to law enforcement.”
This is a paradoxical case in a state that obviously has paradoxical values. The school board allows transgender children to invade the locker rooms of the opposite biological sex, yet the state does not allow physical or chemical mutilation.
Here’s a simple solution. Biological boys play on only biological boys sports teams and use only the boys restrooms and locker rooms. Then, to be fair and inclusive, biological girls are treated the same way.
You see, fair, equitable and inclusive … works for me.