A school district in Indiana has relented from its demand that a male teacher supervise a nude, female student in a locker room, but a legal team that raised concerns about the district’s actions says the problems are not over yet.
At issue is a gender-confused girl in the Terre Haute, Indiana, school district who is being allowed to participate in a boys’ middle-school physical education class that involves her changing clothes in a boys’ locker room.
The dispute arose because public school administrators at Vigo County School Corp. ordered the male teacher to “supervise a gender-confused girl … in the boys’ locker room.”
The teacher requested a religious accommodation to be exempted from that duty, and was refused.
At that point Liberty Counsel wrote a letter to the district pointing out that the teacher, whose name is not being released, “has sincerely-held Christian religious, scientific and moral beliefs about the nature of sex and sexuality; as well as about the rights of the boys and their parents.”
His religious rights would be violated if he was to “observe a female (who is not his wife) in a state of nudity or undress,” or “cause minor boys to unknowingly undress in front of and be observed by a minor female.”
Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver explained, “The school district cannot force a male P.E. teacher to supervise a biological girl in the boys’ locker room where she undresses for gym class. Neither may a school force a teacher to lie to the boys and hide this situation from parents. And certainly, a public school cannot ignore religious accommodations which are protected by law. The school must reverse course and protect the rights and privacy of students, teachers, and parents.”
The legal team noted the teacher requested several times during August for the accommodation, including in a letter from Liberty Counsel to Supt. Christopher Himsel that cited Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The demand letter noted the teacher’s religious beliefs and objections, including that he could not “Lie to students and parents (whether by omission or commission).”
The district confirmed officials no longer would require the teacher to supervise the girl.
“However, the school district continues to not inform the boys that a biological girl would be undressing with them in the open locker room area. School officials also have not informed parents about the situation,” Liberty Counsel warned.
Further, the legal team pointed out, “Notably, the male teacher was informed by the school district that the girl he was to supervise is being ‘chemically transitioned.’”
So the team advised the district “that Indiana law forbids female genital mutilation. If the district has knowledge of any intent to chemically sterilize or surgically mutilate this child in violation of Indiana law, it is obligated to report this child abuse to law enforcement.”
The letter explains the school insists on supervision of students in the locker room, where showers are available and students sometimes are fully nude while changing, to prevent “overly rowdy behavior.”