Florida Teacher Files Complaint After Being Fired for Using Gender-Neutral Honorific
A Florida teacher has taken legal action against their former employer, Florida Virtual School, after being terminated for using the gender-neutral honorific “Mx.” instead of “Ms.” or “Mr.” in school communications.
The teacher, known as AV Vary, filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging discrimination based on gender identity and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Vary emphasized that their use of pronouns and birth-assigned sex has no impact on their ability to teach science. They view their termination as unjust and unwarranted.
The Use of “Mx.” and its Importance
Vary began using the honorific “Mx.” at the start of the school year to demonstrate support for LGBTQ students in light of recent legislation targeting this community. By using “Mx.”, Vary wanted to create a welcoming environment and reassure marginalized students that they had a safe person to confide in.
Controversial Legislation and School Policies
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which initially restricted classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. This law was later expanded, further limiting teacher-student communication on these topics.
Florida Virtual School, as a public institution, is obligated to adhere to Florida laws and regulations. This includes the use of personal titles and pronouns within the school system.
Attempts to Reach a Resolution
Vary initially received acceptance from Principal KJ Anderson to use the honorific “Mx.” in their email signature and school communications. However, Anderson later requested that Vary use a standard courtesy title such as “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, or “Mr.” Vary expressed their discomfort with using gendered titles and proposed alternative gender-neutral options like “professor” or “teacher.”
Despite discussions and emails exchanged with human resources, the school insisted that Vary must change their courtesy title to comply with the law. Vary’s refusal to do so led to their suspension and eventual termination.
The Fight for Civil Rights
Vary filed a complaint with the EEOC, asserting that their right to use their preferred title aligned with their gender identity is a civil rights issue. They acknowledged their privilege in being able to pursue a legal battle while unemployed, emphasizing their desire to use their privilege to advocate for others.
The Larger Context
This incident involving Vary is part of a broader trend where teachers are facing scrutiny over what is deemed appropriate content for children. Similar cases involving LGBTQ topics in education have arisen in Florida and other states.
Vary, however, clarified that they did not verbally explain the use of “Mx.” to their students. Instead, they made the change without announcement, and the students effortlessly adapted to it.
Read More of this Story at www.nbcnews.com – 2023-11-11 01:53:00
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