Laura Jane Klug, a fifth grade substitute teacher for Lumberton Independent School District in Texas who also happens to be transgender, was suspended on Tuesday after parents complained to the school.
According to one Lumberton father:
“If it does affect my child and his ability to learn or if it causes questions that I don’t feel are appropriate then undoubtedly there’s an issue with having somebody transgender, transsexual or transvestite, to be teaching that age group.”
The scariest part? Discriminating against teachers based on gender identity is entirely legal in the state of Texas.
A school board meeting will be held tonight to discuss Klug’s continued employment at Lumberton. I can’t imagine how it must feel for her to be put on such a display for public community debate. She said, in fact, she keeps her gender identity private. “I have always conducted myself in a professional manner and would never discuss my gender identity in school,” Klug told KBMT news.
What makes Klug’s suspension more egregious is the smear campaign some media outlets have launched against her, which are really attacks on all transgendered folks. The media watchdog group Media Matters For America noted how the conservative blog Breitbart quoted David Bellow, a blogger at TexasGOPVote.com, about essentially Facebook-stalking Klug and deciding she is too “emotionally disturbed” to teach. Here, Bellow details the assumptions he made after viewing Klug’s Facebook profile:
…what I found was an emotionally disturbed and confused older man. He has not always wanted to be a woman. According to a note he posted on his Facebook page on July 7th, 2011 titled “How Much More Can I Take?” Kurt Klug was emotionally distraught and seemingly ready to give in with his life because of the pain of his female wife leaving him. The pain and distraught of his wife leaving him must have driven him to decide that he wanted to become a woman. From 2011 until now, Kurt changed his name to Laura Jane Klug and started dressing up like a woman and acting like a woman. He has joined many lesbian, gay and transgender pages on Facebook.
Bellow then goes on to express “pity” for Klug:
Let me get one thing straight, I do not hate this man, nor am I angry at him. I feel bad for him. He was so hurt and emotionally distraught that he was driven to wanting a radical change. He seems like he was and maybe still is a Christian, but he is certainly hurting and has lost his way. We all have issues and this is his issue.
Call me crazy, but publicly invalidating a person’s gender and questioning their mental wellbeing — especially from what you read about them on Facebook — is hardly a caring act. Bellow’s implication that transgender people are inherently disturbed is not only blatantly untrue, it’s archaic. Get with the program: being transgender is not a mental illness.
It seems that most Lumberton parents and teachers are outraged at Klug’s suspension and will likely be speaking out in her favor at the school board meeting. A Lumberton mom said “I’m more concerned about straight predatory teachers rather than I am about somebody who lives an alternative private lifestyle. I don’t worry about my son.” (Can we give this lady a high-five?) Journalist Andy Kopsa has laid out some steps we can take to stand up for Klug before tonight’s meeting, including giving a call to the school district’s central office at 409-923-7500. However, the decision about Klug’s employment won’t be made at the school board meeting tonight; it will be made privately.
We’ll keep you posted on what happens with Laura Jane Klug.