Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys are taking a stand to protect the religious freedom of former Indiana high school music teacher, John Kluge.
Kluge, who taught at Brownsburg High School for four years, found himself in a challenging situation when the school district introduced a policy in 2017 requiring teachers to use pronouns and names that did not align with students' biological sex but instead matched their transgender identity.
In response to this policy, Kluge requested a religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, seeking to address all students by their last names, similar to how a coach would.
The school district initially granted his request, and he continued teaching successfully under this arrangement for an entire school year. However, due to complaints from a few students and teachers, the district later rescinded this accommodation, leaving Kluge with no choice but to resign from his teaching career.
In this context, ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham emphasizes that federal law safeguards employees' ability to live and work in accordance with their religious beliefs.
The Brownsburg school district's actions are seen as a violation of Title VII, a federal law that prohibits religious discrimination against employees.
This legal action is further supported by the recent Supreme Court decision in Groff v. DeJoy, which affirmed that employers must accommodate employees' religious practices unless it imposes undue hardships on their overall operations.
The ADF is now urging a federal district court to consider Groff in the case of Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corporation and uphold Mr. Kluge's right to religious accommodation under Title VII.
They contend that the school district's focus on enforcing endorsement of students' declared transgender identities, at the expense of Kluge's religious beliefs, constitutes a breach of Title VII. It is highlighted that demanding affirmation of beliefs or ways of life, whether within a school or beyond, is against the principles upheld by the law.
Local counsel, Michael Cork, is supporting John Kluge as part of the ADF Attorney Network in his fight to protect his religious freedom in this case.