A school district in Southeast Texas has suspended a transgender teacher in response to complaints from parents.
Laura Jane Klug told 12 News she’s substituted before without any problems at Lumberton Intermediate School, in Lumberton ISD near Beaumont. However, after she substituted in a fifth-grade class this week, parents complained and she met with Superintendent John Valastro. Valastro told Klug she was suspended pending a decision by the school board about whether she can continue to teach in the district.
“I have always conducted myself in a professional manner and would never discuss my gender identity in school,” Klug said.
Parents who complained, including Roger Beard, told 12 News they believe Klug’s gender identity is a distraction for their children.
“If it does affect my child and his ability to learn or if it causes questions that I don’t feel are appropriate then undoubtedly there’s an issue with having somebody transgender, transsexual or transvestite, to be teaching that age group,” Beard said.
Unfortunately for the school district, it faces a potential lawsuit if it follows through with Klug’s suspension or bars her from teaching in the district.
Courts have ruled that the constitutional principle of equal protection prohibits government employers from discriminating against LGBT employees. In addition, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that it protects transgender workers.
Lumberton ISD also has a nondiscrimination policy that includes gender identity and expression, but it appears to apply only to the district’s career and technical programs. A separate policy covering employees doesn’t include gender identity or expression.
The school board meets Thursday.
Watch the report from 12 News below.