Ex-teacher sues after ousting over transgender student names

A former central Indiana teacher who lost his job after citing religious reasons for disagreeing with a policy compelling teachers to call transgender students by their preferred names rather than birth names has sued the district.

The federal lawsuit filed last week claims the Brownsburg Community School Corp. and its administrators violated John Kluge's First Amendment right to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion, among others. The lawsuit seeks full back-pay and the value of benefits as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The school corporation enforced Kluge's resignation as a high school orchestra teacher one year ago despite his attempt to rescind the resignation.

Kluge, who had worked in the district for four years, said he was forced to resign by officials who threatened to fire him.

Kluge said he had reached a compromise with school administration during the 2017-18 school year that allowed him to refer to all students by their last names, but administrators informed him several months later that he would no longer be allowed to do that.

School district spokeswoman Vicky Murphy declined to comment on pending litigation.

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