A Georgia substitute teacher is suing after being fired for raising questions about depictions of same-sex couples in a picture book included in a library read-aloud to elementary school students.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit First Amendment legal advocate, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Lindsey Barr. The book she questioned as a substitute and parent at McAllister Elementary School near Savannah, All Are Welcome, has illustrations of same-sex couples parenting and expecting children.
ADF says Barr merely raised concerns about the book as a mother in speaking with the principal. Her two children were excused from the read-aloud program as she requested, but she soon found herself banned from teaching at the school or anywhere else in the Bryan County School District.
“Lindsey spoke out as a Christian, a mother, and a private citizen on a matter of public concern – namely, the content and age-appropriateness of a picture book that the school planned to read to her kids that conflicted with her family’s values and faith,” ADF Senior Counsel Philip A. Sechler said in a statement. “Yet, school officials immediately retaliated against her for expressing those views and fired her from a job at which she excelled.
“The First Amendment protects the right of Lindsey – and all public employees— to express their concerns about what schools are teaching their children without the government cancelling them.”
ADF further argues that Barr’s termination violates Georgia’s new Parents’ Bill of Rights, which establishes a “fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their minor children” and a “right to review all instructional material intended for use in the classroom of his or her minor child.”
ADF says it sued the principal and several district officials in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia only after its Sept. 13 letter urging Barr’s reinstatement was rejected by the district.
In the statement, Tyson Langhofer, ADF senior counsel and director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, explained the ominous nature of Barr’s treatment.
“Terminating a teacher for engaging in First Amendment-protected expression creates an atmosphere of fear and is intended to send a message to Lindsey and others in the community that, if they criticize the school’s approach to cultural or political issues or express viewpoints contrary to the school’s preferred viewpoints, they will face consequences. This is unlawful, and sadly, why this lawsuit is necessary.”