In mid-April, Laura Jane Klug was suspended from her teaching job in southeast Texas after students and their parents discovered that she is trans.
Last week on xoJane, she wrote her account of her suspension, the media frenzy that followed, the school board hearing on her reinstatement, and the support she received from across the globe.
“If any good can come out of my story I hope it is spreading the knowledge that transgender people are not people to be “feared” — but rather, simply people who deserve the same rights as everyone else,” she said.
Read more about Laura Jane Klug's story after the jump.In her article, Ms. Klug shared that she disclosed her transition status to Lumberton I.S.D.'s director.
The director agreed not to share this information with any parent or teacher; I felt they did not have a need to know. I agreed that I would not share my gender identity in any class I was subbing for. And such was the case until April 3. That day, I was assigned to sub for a 5th grade math class. The class came staffed with a teacher's aide. Wonderful, as there wasn't much in the way of instruction for me.
Five days later, Ms. Klug was notified that she was suspended from her substituting duties. Her neighbor, who had reacted negatively when she informed them of her transition, contacted the school.
Other parents found out after classmates and their parents outed Ms. Klug. Several parents contacted the superintendent and the school board.
According to Ms. Klug,
Much was said about me, both good and bad — very bad. Mis-gendered, mis-categorized and accused of fraudulently presenting myself. All from folk who don't know me, nor have any knowledge of gender dysphoria, gender identity and how they work. A School Board meeting was scheduled for the next week, in the meantime, the media ran with the story:
Texas Teacher Suspended for Being Transgender, or Fired for…or, the most offensive: Transvestite Teacher Suspended in Texas.
Although she experienced her fair share of undue criticism, Ms. Klug also noted that she received an outpouring of support almost immediately. The Pink News, a queer online media outlet in the UK, covered her story as well.
The district held a school board meeting to evaluate her employment. “Many vicious and hurtful things were said about me online, in the media and in the School Board meeting; hurtful and false,” Klug wrote. “I was called a 'transvestite,' they said I was hired as a man, that I will confuse the students when they see a 'man in a dress' or a 'woman with facial hair.'”
But supporters also showed up to the meeting, and five spoke in defense of Ms. Klug.
In the end, the school Board did the only thing they could: adhere to the letter of the law. Even though a case was made that having me would be a distraction for the students. The school district's own Non-Discrimination Ordinance lists “Gender Expression” as a protected class. And there was also federal law to consider.
Currently, Ms. Klug is still a substitute, though she is uncertain whether she will receive any assignments in the future. She remains hopeful that her story will help inform the general public that trans people “are not people to be 'feared'” and that they deserve equal protections and equal rights.
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.