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Religious teacher won't call transgender kids by preferred name — and says he was forced to resign

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Indiana teacher John Kluge says that he was forced to resign from his teaching position at Brownsburg High School after he refused to call transgender students by their preferred names.

What are the details?

Kluge, 28, and a former orchestra teacher, said that the school had started enforcing a policy requiring teachers to call students by their preferred names.

Because of his religious beliefs, Kluge said that he could not bring himself to comply with the policy, so he took it up with school officials who reportedly permitted Kluge to call the kids by their last names instead to avoid issues.

According to a report in the Indianapolis Star, however, officials nixed their deal with Kluge several months ago and said that for the upcoming school year, Kluge would be required to call students by their preferred names.

Kluge said that the school did not provide a reason that they reneged on their initial compromise.

According to a memo from the Indiana Family Institute titled, "Transgender Policies," students must have written consent from both a parent and a doctor in order for the school to call the students by their preferred names rather than their birth names.

NBC News reported that representative for the school district provided a statement that said that Kluge "voluntarily submitted his resignation prior to the end of the school year."

"The resignation was accepted by the administration," a representative said, and noted that the district "complies with all state and federal laws."

Kluge begs to differ, however, and has said that he submitted the letter because school officials threatened him with a firing.

Kluge said that he asked to have the letter withdrawn.

"They're acting as if I have [resigned], even though I'm pleading, 'No,'" he said according to the Indianapolis Star. "I'm not dead yet. I still want to work here."

What about the policy?

According to the Indianapolis Star, Kluge says that the policy goes against his religious beliefs and also violates his constitutional rights.

"I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that's a dangerous lifestyle," he said. "I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing."

Kluge says that despite his feelings about calling students by their preferred names, he does care for them.

"I really do care for all of my students," he says, "which is why I don’t want to be compelled to speak in such a way that I believe I’ll be encouraging them in something that’s dangerous."

Anything else?

According to the Indianapolis Star, Kluge plans to appeal to the school board to keep his job.

The next meeting is set to be held on June 11.

NBC News reports that the Indiana Family Institute's website features a statement from Kluge.

"I view my responsibility to students in my community as more than just helping them become the best musicians they can be, though I certainly devote a considerable amount of time and effort to that worthy goal," Kluge's statement reads. "I wish to remain a teacher in good standing with the administration. However, as much as I love my job and would desire to keep it, I cannot take actions that could encourage harm to the students in my care and provide a poor example for others. I ultimately must submit my conscience to a higher authority."

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