Two Oregon middle school educators are facing termination after they produced a video announcing their campaign to urge schools to resolve gender issues by recognizing biological sex.
The Grants Pass School District board of education plans to meet in July to decide if North Middle School assistant principal Rachel Damiano and science teacher Katie Medart should be terminated, reported KDRV.com News.
A science teacher and assistant principal at an Oregon middle school have been put on leave after launching a campaign for schools to recognize biological sex over gender identity.
— andrea (@annndreeaaaaa) June 30, 2021
The two educators were placed on paid leave in April after they posted a YouTube video in late March in which they announced their campaign to urge the recognition of biological sex over gender identity to resolve school gender issues.
The video can be viewed at YouTube but not on other websites.
Following the launch of their “I Resolve Movement” in the video, in which they observed the inconsistencies in federal, state, and local policies regarding gender issues and recommended alternate ways to handle the concerns, the school board announced it would meet to consider the recommendation of Superintendent Kirk Kolb that the educators be terminated.
Damiano and Medart have filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court, accusing the school district of violating their First Amendment rights. Attorney Ray Hacke of the Pacific Justice Institute is representing the two educators.
The lawsuit asserts:
This action challenges the content- and viewpoint-based retaliation by Defendants against Plaintiffs, Rachel Damiano and Katie Medart, for their speech on an issue that is front and center on the local, state, and national levels: How should our public schools address the many issues and the divergent and often-conflicting interests among students, parents, and educators when a student struggles with gender identity?
Rachel and Katie, both Oregon educators in Grants Pass School District 7, proposed what they viewed as a reasonable, science-based, and loving policy for local, state, and federal policymakers to address these complex issues. They crafted their proposal based on years of experience as educators and their deeply held philosophical and religious beliefs.
A letter dated April 5 to Damiano from Principal Tommy Blanchard formally notified her that she is “being placed on paid leave effective today, April 5, 2021, pending investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior.”
The news report noted the school district stated officials hired a third-party investigator to look into complaints the two educators had violated district policies. The district said:
At the request of the employees, the hearings will be open, public meetings, with the public permitted to observe via Zoom. Because the record for this hearing will be limited to the documents and information considered as part of the Superintendent’s administrative recommendation, no public comment will be allowed.
“The hearing and any board discussion will be regarding the alleged policy violations only,” the district added. “The purpose of these hearings is not to discuss or debate the merits of the I Resolve Movement.”
In their video, Damiano and Medart assert, “We recognize that, excepting very rare scientifically-demonstrable medical conditions, there are two anatomical gender presentations, male and female.”
Those who join with the educators in their movement, resolve to handle, for example, the issue of rest rooms and locker rooms by changing the labels from “boys” and “girls” to “anatomically-male” or “anatomically-female.” These private areas, then, may “only be used by persons matching the anatomical designation of the spaces.”
Students uncomfortable with the anatomical label may request their own private area, if available.
“So, I think, just, in the end, we want, again, we want to, to give voice and honor all sides involved,” Damiano said in the video.
The educators recommend that transgender students may change their name only to a “derivative of their legal name,” with their parents’ permission. Students and staff, however, would not be required to call them by their new name or use their preferred pronouns. The resolution states:
This should be reasonably accommodated by public school staff, provided however that any such policy shall not be mandated upon or required of the public school staff. Nor shall any such policy be enacted that infringes upon the public school staff’s civil and constitutional liberties including their freedoms of speech and expression.
Medart noted in the video that, currently, it is “up to the school to determine if they would like to involve the parent or not” in issues regarding a child’s gender identity.
“So, you would find scenarios where the parents are not in the know at all about what is going on with their child as they are going through that journey, um, and, as a parent, this is, that was disturbing for me,” she said.
Viewers of the “I Resolve Movement” video who agree with its principles are encouraged to sign at www.iresolvemovement.com.
The website describes the movement’s goal as providing “reasonable, loving, and tolerant solutions for education policies that respect everyone’s rights.”
The case is Damiano v. Grants Pass School District 7, No. 1:21-cv-00859 in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.