BROWNSBURG, Ind. -- A Brownsburg teacher came forward last week claiming administrators forced him to resign for refusing to use a transgender student’s new name, but one of his former students says getting names right is a matter of student safety.
“School will be a more comfortable environment,” Brownsburg High School sophomore Aidyn Sucec said. “I think that it's dangerous to have a teacher and trying to enforce his religious beliefs under the guise of morality on students.”
Former orchestra teacher John Kluge says the school forced him to resign because he refused to follow a policy that requires teachers to call transgender students by their preferred name instead of their birth name.
"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 told RTV6 in an earlier interview.
To get around the policy, Sucec said Kluge used last names for all of his students.
“He started calling us by our last names, it was one of those things where he was technically treating all the students the same, but everybody was aware of why he was doing it," Sucec said. "We all knew that it was because of the three trans students."
Aside from feeling disrespected, Sucec says Kluge’s actions were also harmful.
“He said that he doesn't want to condone students going down a path where 20 percent of trans people try to kill themselves but I don't think he recognizes the people like him and doing things like this are the reason that 20 percent of trans people try to kill themselves,” Sucec said. “I know he thinks he’s doing the right thing but he’s not listening to the actual people this affects.”
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