Conservatives Are Trying to Get This Teacher Fired for Being Nonbinary

This article was originally published by Them.

mid a nationwide harassment campaign against LGBTQ+ teachers, members of one southwest Oregon community used a school board meeting to protest the hiring of a nonbinary first-grade teacher, despite being told in advance that comments about individual staffers were not allowed.

The teacher in question, who has been left unnamed to protect their privacy, was recently hired to teach first-grade students at Griffin Creek Elementary School in Medford, Oregon, leading to social media uproar. At the start of last Thursday’s Medford School District board meeting, as local newspaper The Mail Tribune reported, the board chair told attendees that the meeting could be used to voice “objective criticism of district operations and programs” but not to make comments about “specific personal matters, including identifying details and names.”

Medford is the largest school district in southern Oregon, serving 14,000 students, but some protestors do not appear to even have children of their own in public school. Among the individuals quoted by The Mail Tribune were a “concerned grandparent” and another resident named Tanner Fairrington, who claimed that such issues were the reason he does not send his children to public schools. In his remarks, Fairrington said that preferred pronouns and gender identity were not “appropriate” for first-graders.

“It naturally raises questions and encourages questions on the topic, and many parents want these conversations to be had at home and not at school,” he said, per the Mail Tribune. “My wife and I want our children to attend traditional public school, and issues like this are why they do not.”

“If children are being asked to use preferred pronouns, are they also being informed that they have a right under the First Amendment to not use preferred pronouns?” Fairrington added. 

The notion that using people’s correct pronouns is a violation of freedom of speech is an increasingly popular one among conservatives. Unfortunately, a federal appeals court upheld that idea in a 2021 case, and that same rhetoric is being used to overturn the rights of trans students in Virginia in a set of proposed school policies released last week.  

On the other hand, Southern Oregon Pride founder Gina DuQuenne applauded the Medford School District for hiring a nonbinary teacher, adding that the reactions to that teacher’s mere existence “upset and saddened” her. 

“I hope we see more diversity in our classrooms. We need that so, so much,” DuQuenne told the Mail Tribune. “I would really suggest these people who are protesting, they educate themselves and get with the program. We are coming out, we’ve been out and we’re not going away.”

Them has reached out to Griffin Creek Elementary School and will update if we receive comment. The Medford School District declined to comment to the Mail Tribune, stating “as per board policy, and state and federal law, we do not discriminate for any reason, ever.”

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