GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Representing two educators with the courage to call for balance in educational policies concerning gender identity, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the Grants Pass School District.
District officials have placed the educators, Rachel Damiano and Katie Medart, on administrative leave for voicing their opinions about local, state, and national policies concerning students’ gender identity on their own online platform.
The educators started a grassroots organization, “I Resolve,” to speak out on gender identity education policy and offer solutions aimed at (1) letting teachers continue teaching without violating their consciences and (2) honoring parents’ rights by requiring parental involvement in decision-making – all while still treating all students with respect and dignity.
“This is an incredibly important case on multiple levels,” said Ray D. Hacke, PJI’s Oregon-based staff attorney. “The Supreme Court has made clear that educators don’t check their freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate when they accept employment with public school districts – they have as much right to speak out against district policies they consider harmful as any other citizen. The school district erred egregiously here in punishing Rachel and Katie for daring to take the stand they did.”
Damiano and Medart have been in the education field for many years, most recently working at North Middle School in Grants Pass. Damiano serves as assistant principal at NMS; Medart teaches science there.
Together, the two started “I Resolve” to promote a tolerant solution to gender identity education policy. They propose allowing staff and students to abide by their consciences and refrain from using preferred pronouns for students whose anatomic sex does not match the students’ pronoun of choice. Damiano and Medart also propose requiring parent involvement to change students’ pronouns.
In addition, Damiano and Medart call for restrooms and locker rooms to be labeled as “anatomically male” and “anatomically female” to correspond with students’ anatomic sex. They also propose giving all students the option to request access to private restrooms and locker rooms.
After Damiano and Medart posted a video on their website promoting their proposed policy solutions, the Grants Pass School District placed the educators on leave pending an investigation, set to conclude before the school year officially ends on June 10. Damiano and Medart are now facing termination of their employment for engaging in speech that the First Amendment protects.
“Educators, like everybody else, have ideas and opinions they should be free to express,” PJI President Brad Dacus said. “This expression is protected by our First Amendment. Advocating for solutions they believe in should stimulate conversation, not subject dedicated educators to disciplinary action.
“PJI is proud to fight for the rights of educators like Rachel and Katie to ensure that much-needed conversations on gender identity take place.”Contribute today!