Teacher fired for refusing to address a 6 year old girl as transgender boy
A federal discrimination complaint has been filed on behalf of a Katy-area educator who says she was wrongly terminated for refusing to address a 6-year-old girl as a transgender boy, the teacher’s attorneys said Tuesday.
Madeline Kirksey, of Houston, who worked at the Children’s Lighthouse Learning Center location on Clay Road, was fired Nov. 3 after she would not agree to treat the child as a male and call the child by a new male name, according to a copy of the filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Attorney Andy Taylor pointed to Kirksey’s protected class as a black female over 40 who holds religious convictions.
“All of those rights were not vindicated but destroyed,” Taylor said.
Taylor represented the plaintiffs who challenged the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which was originally passed by the city council but was repealed by Houston voters last week. Taylor is joined in Kirksey’s case by attorney Briscoe Cain. Kirksey’s pastor also attended and spoke at a morning news conference at a Galleria-area hotel.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Jamie Izaks, a spokesman for the Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centers, said Kirksey was not fired because of the matter relating to the transgender student. He said he could not comment on matters related to employment.
The learning center franchises, first established in Fort Worth, exist in multiple states, and the company promotes itself online as “the leading values-based educational child care system in the U.S.” Izaks said the schools are accepting of all religions and have a reputation for nurturing and raising great students.
Taylor stressed that the child had been attending school since the start of classes as a “little girl.”
Using fake names, Taylor said that the child left school Friday as “Sally” and returned on Monday going by “Johnny.”
“They had a real issue on their hands,” Taylor said of the school staff.
Taylor maintained the child’s gender identity wasn’t set in stone. He said the child continued to use the girls’ bathroom.
The 6-year-old also played football with the boys and, when hit hard, cried and said, “I’m really not a little boy.”
Taylor likened the imposition of such a decision over gender on a child to “child abuse.” At such a young age, he said, kids haven’t even decided what ice cream or cereal they prefer.
The attorney praised Kirksey for standing up to protect the child from ridicule, as well as keeping the other children at the school in mind who would have been “mightily” confused.
The EEOC enforces federal discrimination laws on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.