We have been following litigation over the required use of pronouns in schools. As University of New Mexico joined those schools requiring the use of the chosen pronouns of students, challenges and cases have mounted. They include actions against both teachers and students for refusing to use pronouns due to their political or religious views. Some of these cases have ended in settlements in favor of the dissenting teachers or professors. Now a new case has been filed in Ohio where Vivian Geraghty, an English teacher at Jackson Memorial Middle School, alleged that she was forced to resign for refusing to comply with the school’s mandatory pronoun policy.
Geraghty is a “professing Christian who strives to live out her faith daily,” and told the school that she is morally prevented from recognizing any gender beyond the “two distinct, complementary sexes.” They allegedly told her that she had to put those objections to the side or leave her teaching position.
What is notable is that Geraghty said that she was willing to simply refrain from using any gender-based pronouns and use the student’s name. We have discussed that option in earlier posts. Indeed, this position led to a settlement in the Meriwether case.
In the complaint, Geraghty states “If a student asks to be addressed by a different name and pronouns, Ms. Geraghty would refrain from using any pronouns in the student’s presence and would address the student, for example, by last name.” She alleges that that compromise was rejected: “Defendants Carter and Myers told Ms. Geraghty that if she would not participate in the students’ social transition that she must resign effective immediately.”
The complaint is a bit different in closely tying her refusal to comply to her opposition to gender transitioning:
“55. Ms. Geraghty wants to protect children from making potentially irreversible and life-changing decisions that they may later regret. Ms. Geraghty believes that, because of the difficulty of assessing matters of gender identity and the long-term irreversible consequences of certain treatments for transgender identifying people, including puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and sex-reassignment surgery—children should not be encouraged to undertake social or medical transition because of their inability to assess long-term consequences.
56. Ms. Geraghty objects to personally participating in any child’s social transition because she believes that participating in this “active intervention” creates an unreasonable risk of harm to the child, in terms of the immediate impact, the potential irreversible impact of further treatment, and the likelihood that other mental health issues may be overlooked. “
Geraghty is bringing five causes of action for deprivation of free speech, free exercise, and and due process.
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION Free Speech Retaliation (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION Compelled Speech (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION Free Exercise of Religion (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION Due Process of Law (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION Free Exercise of Religion (Ohio Const. Art. I § 7)
Here is the complaint: Geraghty v. Jackson Local School District Board