Any parent concerned about his or her child’s education will have many conversations over the years with school principals, administrators, and teachers. The topics can span any number of subjects—from the child’s performance to their health and well-being to the school curriculum.
But Lindsey Barr found out the hard way that at some schools, not all conversations are welcome.
When Lindsey expressed concern as a parent about a book that would be read to her children at school, she was fired from her job as a substitute teacher at that school. Not only that, but she was locked out of accepting any jobs within the entire district.
But Lindsey was not intimidated into silence. Instead, she took a stand for free speech and parental rights—and she succeeded. Read on to learn more about her case.
Who is Lindsey Barr?
Lindsey Barr is a mother of three children who attended Bryan County Schools in Georgia. For 10 years, Lindsey served as a full-time teacher with the district, where she received excellent reviews, earning a rating of “exemplary” on almost all performance criteria.
In January 2022, Lindsey was hired by Bryan County Schools as a substitute teacher. During that spring, she mostly subbed at McAllister Elementary School, where two of her children attended.
As an educator motivated by her Christian faith, Lindsey believes that every child deserves to be loved, welcomed, and received into the classroom. In her class, Lindsey emphasizes kindness and respects all children regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, religion, and/or family background, including children whose parents identify as gay. Lindsey believes that all children are entitled to a loving and safe classroom environment in which to learn.
She wants what is best for all her students, including her own children.
At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, Lindsey learned of a book that was going to be read to every class as a part of a new read-aloud program at the school’s library. This book was called All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. The publisher’s website describes the book as, “A bright and uplifting celebration of cultural diversity and belonging, where all children are welcome in the classroom.” Among other things, it includes illustrations of same-sex couples parenting and expecting children.
This book caused Lindsey concern because it contained depictions that conflict with Lindsey’s sincerely held religious views on marriage and family. She believes the book is inappropriate for young children and that it appeared to be part of an effort to indoctrinate young children into a progressive ideology.
In 2022, Georgia passed a Parents’ Bill of Rights that gives Lindsey the right to “review all instructional materials intended for use.” The law also guarantees Lindsey’s right to object to any instructional materials that are used in her children’s education, which is precisely what she did.
Lindsey brought her concerns as a teacher and parent to the school principal in August and asked that her own children be excused from this reading time. The very next day, Lindsey was unable to access the Bryan County Schools portal she used to accept substitute teaching assignments. Five days later, she was informed by the school that they had terminated her ability to substitute at any Bryan County school.
Those actions were unjust and unconstitutional. That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom stepped in to vindicate Lindsey’s rights. ADF attorneys sent a demand letter in September 2022 asking that Lindsey be reinstated, and when they did not receive a response, they filed a lawsuit on Lindsey’s behalf.
After ADF attorneys filed the suit, officials at McAllister Elementary School and Bryan County Schools agreed to reinstate Lindsey, committed to pay $181,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees, and publicly expressed regret after violating her constitutionally protected freedoms.
The Bryan County Schools superintendent encouraged Lindsey to raise any concerns about the material being taught to her children and said that raising such concerns does not preclude her employment in the district. “We sincerely regret that your separation from the school district caused any distress,” the superintendent wrote.
As a result of the agreement, ADF attorneys dismissed the lawsuit.
- August 2022: Lindsey Barr was fired from her position as a substitute teacher after raising concerns about a book that was going to be read to her children at school.
- September 2022: Alliance Defending Freedom sent a demand letter asking that Lindsey be reinstated and that the school refrain from any further retaliation against her for her protected speech. After receiving no response from the school, ADF filed a federal lawsuit on Lindsey’s behalf.
- April 2023: ADF attorneys secured a favorable settlement in which officials at McAllister Elementary School and Bryan County Schools agreed to reinstate Lindsey and pay $181,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees. They expressed regret and encouraged her to participate in her children’s education in the future.
The bottom line
Teachers shouldn’t be fired for expressing genuine concern about what is being taught in schools—especially when it’s being taught to their own children.
Lindsey Barr shares the story of how she was fired:
Lindsey and ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer discuss the case on “Fox & Friends First”: