An Ohio public middle school forced a Christian teacher to resign for refusing to refer to students by pronouns inconsistent with their biological gender.
Now Vivian Geraghty, a devout Christian who taught English at Massillon’s Jackson Memorial Middle School, is suing the school for violating her constitutional rights.
When Geraghty was informed that two of her students identified as transgender, she approached Kacy Carter, the principal, to gain further clarity on school policy, hoping to find a mutually acceptable solution. Instead, she contends she was interrogated about her religious beliefs by Carter and Monica Myers, the district’s director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. They allegedly told Geraghty that her refusal to use different pronouns was “insubordination” and would “not work in a district like Jackson.”
When she refused to compromise her religious beliefs, Geraghty alleges Carter and Myers said she had to resign immediately, despite Geraghty pointing out they were violating her First Amendment right to free speech.
Although Geraghty had never faced any prior complaints or disciplinary actions, she was effectively fired and escorted out of the building, in the middle of the school day, for refusing to affirm transgender ideology.
“No school official can force a teacher to set her religious beliefs aside in order to keep her job,” said Logan Spena, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). “The First Amendment prohibits that abuse of power.”
On Monday, ADF filed the lawsuit on Geraghty’s behalf against Carter, Myers and the Jackson Local School District Board of Education.
“Jackson Local School District officials require their teachers to immediately and personally validate a child’s gender transition even if doing so violates their religious beliefs, conscience, or sound judgment,” said Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel for ADF. “Increasing evidence suggests that this approach may lead adolescents to unnecessarily pursue dangerous medical interventions like puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or life-altering surgeries.
“Vivian treated every student with equality and respect. It was unlawful for school officials to terminate her employment simply because she wanted to avoid using her voice to validate ideas that violate her faith and jeopardize her students’ wellbeing.”
Geraghty says she is suing for damages, hoping to correct the harm caused to her by her unjust termination.