Brownsburg teacher claims religious convictions cost him his job

Brownsburg teacher wants to keep his job
Brownsburg teacher wants to keep his job

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WTHR) - A Brownsburg High School music teacher insists he’s being forced to quit because of his religious beliefs.

School administrators say John Kluge resigned and they didn’t break any laws.

“I love the students,” Kluge said. “I love my job. I love teaching there.”

Kluge said he has taught orchestra classes for four years. The trouble started when he refused to call his transgender students by their new, preferred first names.

“As a Christian I believe God has created us, made us male and female and so it would be going against my Christian convictions to encourage them in transgenderism,” Kluge said.

The teacher said he compromised with administrators and agreed to call all his students by their last names.

“It kind of sidesteps the whole issue and kind of allows students to be able to form their own opinions on these issues,” Kluge said.

Later, Kluge claims administrators changed their minds and told him he must start calling students by their first names or he would be suspended pending termination.

“They compelled me to tender a conditional resignation letter and it would not be considered until May 29th", he said.

Kluge says his attempts to rescind and recall the resignation weren't answered.

Rhonda Echard’s daughter just graduated from Brownsburg High School. Although she respects the teacher’s religious beliefs, she said “If you are teaching in a public school situation, then maybe your personal beliefs should not be at the forefront.”

“I see where he is coming from, but I think that is getting in the way of his job and what he signed up to do," said Samantha McKinney, an 8th grader. She said she has transgender friends.

The controversy caught the attention of the Trevor Project, a national organization working to prevent suicide among LGBTQ young people.

“Youth are at high risk when they don’t feel respected, when they are feeling all these types of stigma and discrimination," said Sam Brinton, who directs the Trevor Project's advocacy programs.

Brownsburg schools would not discuss Kluge’s allegations and issued this statement:

This teacher voluntarily submitted his resignation prior to the end of the school year.

The resignation was accepted by the administration.

Brownsburg Community School Corporation complies with all state and federal laws.

Kluge said he intends to plead his case directly to school board members and ask that they toss his resignation and put him back in the classroom.