District approves resignation of Brownsburg teacher who refused to call trans students by preferred names

BROWNSBURG, Ind. – The Brownsburg Community School Corporation says the resignation of an orchestra teacher who refused to call transgender students by their preferred name has been approved.

The announcement was made at Monday night’s school board meeting, which teacher John Kluge was in attendance to try and rescind his resignation.

Kluge claims the school district forced him to resign over its transgender student policy. He says the district's requirement that teachers call trans students by their preferred names, rather than those given at birth, goes against his religious beliefs.

"I wanted to be able to teach my subject matter with a clean conscience," said Kluge when he took the podium during the meeting. “You’ve approved my resignation without me being able to appeal my resignation.”

Along with Kluge, about 45 other community members were signed up to voice their opinion about the situation, including a transgender student who was in Kluge's orchestra class.

"Everybody advocating in support for Kluge needs to think about what is like to be a transgender person and what it is like to live your life knowing that there are people that would say that you are not an actual human being and actively disrespect you," Aidyn Sucec said.

Many parents were upset about this internal document that outlines the district's transgender policy and answers to teacher's questions. The policy says students can ask to have their name changed at school with consent from a parent and doctor. Parents who disagree with the policy say they've never heard of this and didn't know it was being enforced.

"I'm sorry I know I sound like I'm ticked off because I am I'm fed up with this stuff from you guys. You are our elected officials. You work for us and the administration works for you so that makes you all responsible," parent Jeff Gracey said.

Kluge says he issued a conditional resignation but he says he was told he had until the end of May to withdraw it. On May 25th he tried to do that but says it was processed, not rescinded.

"You've approved my resignation without me having resigned and without me being able to appeal this to the board. Please be transparent and please reconsider this termination. Please reinstate me with this accommodation for next year," Kluge said.

The Brownsburg Community School Corporation issued the following statement regarding Kluge's resignation:

The Brownsburg Community School Corporation received a voluntary resignation from John Kluge prior to the end of the 2017-18 school year. The administration accepted his resignation. The Brownsburg Board of School Trustees approved this resignation at the regular monthly business meeting on June 11, 2018. Brownsburg Community School Corporation complies with all state and federal laws.

"I think that Mr. Kluge's religious beliefs have absolutely no place in a public high school I think what he believes is morally just conflicts with what not only  I believe. What my parents believe, what my psychiatrist, therapist and doctor believe and the school board believe are morally just," Aidyn said.