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Transgender Woman is Asked Not To Return To Work After Parents Raised Questions About Her Sexuality

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM CDT

A transgender substitute teacher in Southeast Texas was asked not to return to work after some parents expressed concerns about her sexuality. Laura Jane Klug was put on suspension while Lumberton I.S.D. will privately decide whether she can return to the classroom.

Klug told KBMT that she had worked at the school before without incident and that "I have always conducted myself in a professional manner and would never discuss my gender identity in school."

Before L.I.S.D. makes its final decision there will be a public hearing on Thursday where individuals from the community can express their opinions. Local organizers including the Stonewall Democrats of Southeast Texas and other LGBT allied groups have rallied behind Klug.

Read what Lumberton conservatives have to say about the issue below the jump.

A poll taken by KBMT that accompanied their story asked the question, "Should transgender people be prohibited from becoming a teacher?" Although it was an unscientific internet poll the story gained a lot of attention and the results were encouraging: 87% said transgender people should not be discriminated against while just 13% said they should.

The issue sparked Lumberton native and conservative blogger David Bellows to write on TexasGOPvote:

"Like it or not, a transvestite is a distraction. Not only that, he frightened and confused many students who then went home to their parents who had to have age inappropriate conversations with their children."

Bellows went on to question Klug's mental state and emotional health. That sentiment was allegedly shared by parents in Lumberton, including Sheli Wells, whom he quoted as saying:

"I did have to explain to my daughter what transgender was last Thursday afternoon because it was her home room class he was in. I was none to happy to venture down that road with my 11 year old. Judge? No. But do I have reservations about WHY this person wants to be in our schools for $60 a day, you better believe it."

It seems the same folks who do not believe schools should teach sex education also do not want to have to teach it to their children themselves either. Fine, but questioning "why" someone would want to teach or insinuating ulterior motives because of their gender identity is a bridge too far.

Roger Bread's son was also in the class and told KFDM:

There are something that we can accept in society that children are not going to accept the same way we do...This is a very big distraction. I really don't want them teaching, especially this age group."

The theme here is simple: these parents seem to have very little exposure to nontraditional gender roles or identities and they want to ensure they can insulate their children from the natural curiosity of those who different.

Thankfully, not all parents at this Lumberton Middle School felt this way. One parent said, "I think it's awful my heart goes out to this woman and I'm really sad that things like that still go on." Another parent told KBMT:

"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."

Of course beyond hurtful words and actions there are legal concerns.

Equality Texas sent a letter to L.I.S.D. demanding that Klug be reinstated as a teacher.

"As the fiduciary agents of LISD we want to be certain that you are aware that denying employment on the basis of a person's gender expression is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that doing so creates liability for the district," wrote Tornabene and Rudner, the Chairs of Equality Texas and Equality Texas Foundation respectfully.

However, Texas state law does not protect employees based on their sexual orientation or identity.

The public hearing portion of the school board will be held Thursday evening, April 10 at 7:00 pm at the L.I.S.D. Administration building (121 South Main, Lumberton, TX  77657).

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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Do not republish without express written permission.

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