A substitute teacher in Texas has allegedly been suspended from her job at a public school for being trans. Laura Jane Klug was working as a substitute for a fifth grade class in Lumberton, Texas until Tuesday when she was suspended pending a decision by the school board. No official reason has been given for the suspension, but several parents have told local news affiliates that they had launched complaints due to the fact that Klug is trans.
Roger Beard, father of one of the fifth graders Klug was teaching, told 12 News, "If it does affect my child and his ability to learn or if it causes questions that I don't feel are appropriate, then undoubtedly there's an issue with having somebody transgender, transsexual or transvestite to be teaching that age group."
Which is a fairly bizarre assertion in that there's no reason having a transgender woman for a teacher inherently interferes with a student's ability to learn, unless I guess the teacher is bad at her job, which no one is alleging, as far as I can tell. In fact, given the fact that this parent has repeatedly referenced the young age of Klug students — a common dog whistle tactic evoking the idea that LGBT people are natural child molesters — plus the fact that he clearly doesn't know what terms to use for a transgender person, I'm pretty inclined to think that "trouble learning" is just an excuse.
Klug herself has apparently never received complaints like this before. She says she has always been professional at her job and would never discuss her gender identity with students.
If the school board decides against her, however, there is very little Klug would be able to do about it. Texas, like most states in the U.S., does not include gender identity as a protected category, meaning it's perfectly legal to fire someone for being trans.
Many parents in the school district have expressed their support for Klug. Jammie Marcantel, another fifth grade parent, told a local news station, "My son knows who he is and I don't think any outside influence is going to change that. I'm more concerned about straight predatory teachers rather than I am someone who lives an alternative private alternate lifestyle. I don't worry about my son."
Hopefully she and other supportive parents will show up to the school board meeting. Because not only is it truly awful to deprive a transgender woman of her livelihood for no reason other than her gender identity, but removing Klug would also send a message to the kids she teaches that trans people aren't "supposed" to be teachers. When the message we should be sending the next generation is that trans people are people who should be treated just like anyone else.