September 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

A former high school music teacher in Brownsburg, Ind., has lost a legal challenge he filed over his refusal to call transgender students by their preferred names.

John Kluge resigned from the school in May 2018 after he resisted a district policy requiring staff to call students by their chosen names. School officials tried to find a way to accommodate Kluge, who said he had religious objections to transgender rights, by allowing him to call students by their last names, but some students reported that his behavior made them uncomfortable.

Kluge resigned, but later tried to rescind the resignation. When the school board refused to reinstate Kluge, he sued the Brownsburg Community School Corporation (BCSC). He was represented in court by Alliance Defending Freedom, a prominent Christian nationalist legal group.

 A federal court rejected Kluge’s case in July.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled that Kluge’s “religious opposition to transgenderism is directly at odds with BCSC’s policy of respect for transgender students, which is grounded in supporting and affirming those students.” She added that the public school “has an obligation to meet the needs of all of its students, not just a majority of students or the students that were unaware of or unbothered by Mr. Kluge’s practice of using last names only.” (Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corporation)