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Bryan Co. Substitute Teacher: Diversity Depends on Trust, Which Is Why I Sued the District

A truly diverse community depends on people being able to express their beliefs, concerns, and convictions.
Alliance Defending Freedom
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I am both a parent and a teacher. Until this year, my three boys attended Bryan County public schools; I taught in Bryan County schools for 10 years, and I now work at McAllister Elementary as a substitute teacher. I know the vital importance of having trust, honesty, and openness in a school and a community.

A truly diverse community depends on people being able to express their beliefs, concerns, and convictions. That is also why I, through my attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, filed and favorably settled a lawsuit against McAllister Elementary: because schools must respect true diversity, the diversity that comes from allowing parents to direct their children’s education in controversial topics.

In August of last year, I learned that a school employee planned to read a picture book with pro-LGBT illustrations to all children at McAllister, including two of my own. I, speaking as a parent, expressed my concerns with this to my boys’ teachers and the school principal and asked that my children not participate in the reading. The next day, when I, as a teacher, tried to log into my school e-mail account, I didn’t have access. I contacted the school but received no response. It was days later that I learned I’d been fired.

Every single parent has the right to decide when and how our children learn about complicated issues, including issues of sexuality. The law agrees; our state passed the Parents’ Bill of Rights in 2022, protecting the rights of parents to direct their children’s upbringing. And when my case settled, the law was vindicated. I was reinstated to my position as a substitute teacher in Bryan County Schools, I received the compensation I requested, and the superintendent issued a public statement of regret for my firing.

But now the school is trying to pretend like this isn’t what happened at all. School administrators are claiming that the case settled because their insurance company decided to do so. This is misleading. The reality is that the school, not the insurance company, signed the settlement. The school is refusing to acknowledge it was in the wrong.

Maybe you’re wondering why this matters. Here’s why: This whole situation came about because the school district broke trust with the community—and by being disingenuous about the outcome of the lawsuit, the school is doing that all over again.

True diversity depends on trust. McAllister Elementary and Bryan County Schools are diverse communities; that is a big part of why my family and I loved them. If our schools decide that they can punish people for expressing differing views, all that diversity will disappear.

I was fired from my job as a teacher—a job I had done with excellence for more than 10 years—solely because I expressed concern as a parent about elementary-aged children being exposed to material in the classroom that parents may wish to cover with them at home. That firing was directly at odds with the Parents’ Bill of Rights, but even more: it undermines our schools’ culture. It breaks our community’s trust, and it makes true openness and diversity impossible.

I filed a lawsuit against the school administrators who fired me because every parent has the right to speak out about what their children are learning in school. Every parent has the right to decide when, how, and where their children learn about complicated issues like sexuality. Our community is diverse, and the Parents’ Bill of Rights protects that diversity by ensuring that parents have the final say in their children’s upbringing.

We can only be a truly diverse community if we promote trust, honesty, and openness. I hope the school takes a moment to tell the truth about what happened and agrees to honor every parent’s right to guide their children’s upbringing. That is the only way to begin restoring trust within our community.

Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF team members contributed to the writing and publication of this article.