Ohio (WTRF) — An Ohio middle school teacher, citing her religious beliefs, was forced to resign after she told her boss that she would not address students by their preferred pronouns, according to a report by NBCNews.
Vivian Geraghty, the teacher, is suing Jackson Memorial Middle School’s principal, the Board of Education, and another district employee.
Geraghty, a professed Christian, was working at the Massillon, Ohio school in the Jackson Local School District, as an English language arts teacher up until her resignation on Aug. 26.
She stated in court documents that before she left she taught her class while remaining consistent with her religious practices and scientific understanding of human identity, gender, and sex.
In early August, two of Geraghty’s students requested that she use names associated with their preferred gender identities instead of their legal names, and one of the students also requested to be addressed by their preferred pronoun.
The lawsuit states that the district had adopted a policy that required teachers and staff to use the preferred pronouns of students.
The request by the students directly opposed her religious beliefs so Geraghty met with principal Kacy Carter. She hoped that together they could compromise on a solution that would allow her to continue to teach with violating her religious beliefs and constitutional rights. Geraghty explained to Carter that she would not use the students’ preferred pronouns.
The suit goes on to state that Geraghty was later called into another meeting with Carter and Monica Myers, another district employee. During this meeting Geraghty was told that she would have to put her beliefs aside because she was a public servant, and her failure to do so would be insubordination.
Geraghty refused to back down and was sent back to her classroom, where minutes later she was pulled from the classroom and was told to change her mind or resign, NBCNews reported.
Geraghty felt she had no choice but to resign in that moment and she was escorted out of the building.
Geraghty’s attorneys, Alliance Defending Freedom, argue in the lawsuit that the principal did not explore other possible solutions, such as moving Geraghty to another classroom or having her address students by their last names.
The lawsuit also alleges that the policy is not fairly enforced citing that Carter, as principal, is allowed to avoid using pronouns.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, stands behind their client’s choice because she shouldn’t have to choose between her job and her faith.
Logan Spena, legal counsel with Alliance shared in a Facebook statement, that no school official should force staff to set aside religious beliefs in order to keep their job, citing The First Amendment.
The Board of Education, district superintendent Christopher DiLoreto, Myers, and Carter could not immediately be reached for comment.