Americans can resist those who try to impose gender confusion on society. That is the conclusion flowing from two crucial decisions by judges in Iowa and Florida.
In the Iowa case, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the First Amendment protects students who refuse to use “preferred pronouns” at school. The Florida decision defended a Miami teacher fired in 2019 for a similar stand.
Neither case is final. Higher courts will still have to speak. However, both are hopeful signs that some sanity is returning to courts that liberal activists often dominate.
A Small Town With a Big City Mindset
Marion, Iowa is in the eastern part of the state, near Cedar Rapids. It is the headquarters of the Linn-Mar Community School District. The city’s website presents a beautiful and growing community that looks like a refuge from America’s major cities and their insanity.
However, the local schools succumbed to the same waves of “woke” lunacy as many others. In August 2023, the district approved “Code 504.13-R” to regulate the treatment of those who claim to be “transgender.”
The School Board’s Code contains all the boilerplate language expected in postmodern America.
”These administrative regulations set forth the district’s protocols that will be utilized to expeditiously address the needs of transgender students, gender-expansive students, nonbinary, gender nonconforming students, and students questioning their gender to ensure a safe, affirming, and healthy school environment where every student can learn effectively.”
“Gender Support Plans”
The policy authorizes a “Gender Support Plan,” which any student can request. These have far-reaching implications. “Any student in seventh grade or older will have priority of their support plan over their parent/guardian.” Translated into plain language, the policy says the school system favors twelve-year-olds’ whims over their parents’ legitimate concerns and God-given authority.
The Code requires that school personnel facilitate these transgender fictions. “Staff members should always work with a student, regardless of gender identity, to address concerns regarding inclusion or safety and develop a plan for participation that addresses the student’s concerns.”
The Code also regulates other students. “Every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity.” Although the Code did not specify specific forbidden language or punishments, the schools promised to defend that “right,” even if the offender was another student.
Unconstitutionally Vague Rules
Predictably, the policy ignited controversy within the Linn County community. Parents Defending Education brought suit against the district. On September 29, 2023, the Court found that the system’s attempt to impose these vague rules on students violates the First Amendment protection of free speech.
The Court’s reasoning was clear. It concluded that Parents Defending Education will likely succeed in its claim that the policy “is void for vagueness.” Such vague policies do not “provide adequate notice of the proscribed conduct” and, thus, lend “itself to arbitrary enforcement.” Perhaps, the Court continued, “while a lesser standard of scrutiny is appropriate because of the public school setting, a proportionately greater level of scrutiny is required because the regulation reaches the exercise of free speech.”
The President of Parents Defending Education, Nicole Neilly, applauded the Eighth Circuit Court’s decision. However, her statement contained a badly needed note of caution and guarded optimism. “Yet these policies remain on the books in far too many districts across the country. Parental exclusion policies are a loser in the Court of public opinion—and I have no doubt that they will eventually be struck down in the Court of Law as well.”
Offending “Woke” Sensibilities
Over 1,500 miles separate Miami, Florida from Marion, Iowa. Their local cultures could hardly be more distant. However, schools that inject themselves into the “transsexual” circus are common to both.
On December 19, 2019, Yojary Mundaray was a science teacher at Miami-Dade School’s Jose de Diego Middle School. That day, she got into a dispute with one of her students, identified in court documents only as “Pat.”
An official court document describes the episode.
“The incident at issue started when Mundaray reprimanded Pat and another student for engaging in routine classroom horseplay. In doing so, Mundaray told Pat to stop ‘playing rough with the boys.’ It is undisputed that Pat is a biological female and that she is so identified in the school records…. Until December 20, 2019, Mundaray had no reason to think that Pat was not the girl she objectively appeared to be.
“Soon after being reprimanded, Pat asked to speak privately with Mundaray, and the two stepped away from the other students for that purpose. Pat then revealed to Mundaray that she is transgender and now identifies as a male…. Pat told Mundaray that henceforth she wanted Mundaray to address her using masculine pronouns. Mundaray explained that she could not do that due to her Christian beliefs. Pat’s response was, ‘I think God made a mistake.’
“Pat’s statement contradicts the orthodox Christian belief that God is inerrant and infallible. Regardless, she was criticizing God (or, more likely, mocking the teacher’s faith, insulting Mundaray). Mundaray replied, ‘I’m a Christian, and my God made no mistakes.’”
The Miami-Dade Schools terminated the teacher’s employment on June 4, 2020. On December 12, 2022, the Commissioner of Education charged her with “violating the Principles of Professional Conduct” “failing to make reasonable efforts to protect a student from conditions harmful to learning and/or to the student’s mental and/or physical health and/or safety” and “failing to take reasonable precautions to distinguish between personal views and those of [the] educational institution.” On May 5, 2023, the Commissioner added a fourth charge, “having been found guilty of personal conduct which seriously reduces the teacher’s effectiveness as an employee of the school board.”
On October 2, 2023, Florida administrative law Judge John Van Laningham recommended that Mundaray be reinstated. According to Florida law, the state’s Education Practices Commission would have to do the actual reinstatement, but this is an essential first step in the teacher’s fight to get back a job she should never have lost.
“A State-Sponsored Religion”
Perhaps even more important is the language that Judge Van Laningham used to justify his decision.
“Advocates of transgenderism can be as doctrinaire as religious zealots these days…. [A]dhering to the traditional view that gender is biologically determined can get a person excommunicated from a job in this instance. Indeed, a reasonable argument can be made that transgenderism is fast becoming, if it has not already become, a kind of state-sponsored religion…. Mundaray’s refusal to convert to this new secular faith cost her dearly.”
While this result is encouraging, this case is far from over. The Commission could appeal it to the Florida court system and, perhaps, to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Judge Van Laningham stated a case that pertains to many people facing leftist demands generally and transgender tyranny in particular. Because of their unique position, teachers are on the front line of this battle, and all too many of them are on the other side.
Time to Engage the Battle
The words of Sir Winston Churchill accurately describe the current state of resistance to transgender tyranny. “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
In such a war, courage and a reliance on Our Lord and Our Lady’s protection are the only reliable weapons.