BREAKING: Transgender teacher says she’s been reinstated by Lumberton school district

Laura Jane Klug

Laura Jane Klug

A transgender substitute teacher says she was reinstated late Thursday by Lumberton ISD.

The Southeast Texas district suspended 52-year-old Laura Jane Klug earlier this week after parents complained and threatened to keep their children out of school.

After hearing from 13 public speakers on the issue, the Lumberton school board discussed Klug’s case in a lengthy closed-door session. When the meeting finally broke, Klug said Superintendent John Valastro told her she will remain on the rolls as a substitute in the district.

“I do feel relieved in the fact that I have been reinstated,” Klug told Lone Star Q by phone just before midnight. “I’m not going to jump in and start subbing tomorrow. I do want to give them some time.”

There was no immediate public announcement of the decision, and district officials couldn’t be reached to confirm Klug’s reinstatement. Klug said Valastro asked her not to apply for the first opening that comes up, because he plans to meet with the district’s principals on Monday.

“Hopefully this is going to be a really good learning moment for everybody involved,” Klug said. “It’s certainly an opportunity for principals to address the issue of people who are gender-nonconforming. Also, it might encourage somebody who is questioning their gender to maybe come forward.”

Those who addressed the school board during public comments were evenly divided on the issue. The meeting room was standing room only, with people spilling into the hallways,. Some of Klug’s supporters, who reportedly outnumbered opponents, wore pro-equality buttons and had their hair dyed purple.

One speaker accused Klug’s supporters of bullying the school board, while another said he was concerned about what bathroom she would use. One of Klug’s supporters was in tears as she told the board that her father doesn’t know about her gender identity.

But ultimately it may have been the law, and not emotional pleas, that convinced district officials to reinstate Klug.

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that the provision covers transgender people.