One Indiana teacher says he wants to keep his Christian beliefs and serve as an educator, but the public school system won’t bend.
John Kluge, a Brownsburg orchestra teacher, submitted his resignation on Monday under pressure from the school to conform to their new policy on transgender students.
In front of a packed room filled with supporters, Kluge made an emotional plea to the school board for his job, saying, “Please reconsider this termination. Please reinstate me.”
According to WTHR, the school policy requires teachers to refer to transgender students by their opposite gender.
"I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that's a dangerous lifestyle," Kluge, a devout Christian, told the Indianapolis Star newspaper. "I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing."
The school initially compromised with Kluge, allowing the father of two to use the last name of his students instead of gender identifications.
This compromise abruptly came to an end when Kluge says he was given an ultimatum: Either adhere to the new policy or be terminated with a choice of resignation.
Kluge calls these untenable conditions an affront to his religious freedoms and his First Amendment rights.
Emotions ran high at the school board meeting, with witnesses holding back tears while testifying in support of Kluge.
One former student said she owes her college career choice to Kluge, adding, “I don’t think I would be there without him. He is a very fair teacher.”
Another student showed his support for Kluge, telling the school board, “He loved every student, he included every student and he protected every student in his class.”
Despite the outcry of support for this teacher, WTHR reported this statement from the school board: “This teacher voluntarily submitted his resignation prior to the end of the school year. The resignation was accepted by the administration. Brownsburg Community School Corporation complies with all state and federal laws.”
Pastor Jim Bohrer, of Hope Community Church, added that he thought this was a witchhunt against people of faith.
Bohrer, who serves as Kluge’s pastor, he told the Indianapolis Star that Kluge is a model teacher.
"He treats them all the same," he said. "He cares deeply. This is not an issue of John excluding anyone. This is purely the administration trying to get rid of John for his convictions."
Although the night ended with Kluge in tears and the school board accepting a resignation that he says he was told he could withdraw, he insists he will live to fight again.
WTHR reports Kluge’s attorney is looking into other legal avenues to have him reinstated.
According to Kluge, he just wants to get back to doing what he loves, which is teaching music to kids.
The twenty-something thinks the best way to do that in this sexualized climate is to "present an environment where I wasn’t going to push one way or the other," he told the Indianapolis Star.