Assistant principal Rachel Damiano and Katie Medart, a seventh-grade science teacher, were terminated by Grants Pass public schools in July 2021 after school leaders objected to a YouTube video in which the principal and teacher addressed gender identity and how they believe it should be addressed in a school setting.
That video, which hit YouTube in March 2021, was part of what the two educators called the "I Resolve" movement that states, in part, that people are born male and female.
Pastors urged to stand in gap for gender-confused children
Steve Jordahl, AFN.net
Young people who feel surrounded with confusing messages in classrooms and the culture about their sexual identity, and concerned parents who are seeking help for them, might have a source right down the street: a church pastor.
Because more than half the U.S. states currently ban licensed therapists from counseling a minor who is confused about sex and gender, Emilie Kao of Alliance Defending Freedom says a church pastor remains a source of help.
“They're getting messages in school, and in the culture, that they could be trapped in the wrong body,” she says of today’s youths. “And so it's really important that they have a place to go and talk about what they're struggling with.”
Kao says 20 states have complete bans on counseling, and six other states have implemented a partial ban, but a church pastor is exempted by those laws. So ADF is urging caring pastors to become involved in a cultural issue that is probably already an issue in some families in the church congregation.
“It is absolutely coming to the doorstep of the church, if it's not already in the church,” she warns, “because, unfortunately, so many kids are being led down the wrong path by the culture.”
After they sought help from Pacific Justice Institute, the school board reversed its firing and rehired both women last November with a 4-3 vote.
Grants Pass School District, located in rural Josephine County, has approximately 5,700 students in 11 schools.
Brad Dacus, the attorney who leads Pacific Justice, tells AFN that Damiano and Medart are currently demanding back pay from a “stubborn” school district that he says is refusing to “make things right” with the rehired teacher and assistant principal.
"So we are continuing with this litigation,” he says, referring to the federal lawsuit alleging a First Amendment violation, “as it's a very important constitutional issue. And, unfortunately, it's one that this school district has a hard time understanding."
Damiano and Medart suggested a gender-identity school policy that balances students’ rights with objecting teachers, and also the rights of parents to know what is happening in the classroom. In the video, the women suggested school restrooms should be labeled "Biologically Male" or "Biologically Female," and objecting students should have access to a private restroom.
They also suggested teachers should not be forced to address students by their "preferred pronouns” if they object to that.
The two educators did not identify themselves as Grants Pass educators but their colleagues saw the video and easily recognized them, and an investigation began that ended with termination.
Dacus calls their firing an “outrageous violation” of their First Amendment rights but Oregon is a famously liberal state, which includes its public schools such as tiny Grants Pass.
In fact, the school district launched a seven-member “Equity Advisory Committee” just last month as required by a 2022 state law. A majority of the committee members must be a minority race, such as black or Indigenous, and other “protected classes” are preferred referring to a homosexual or lesbian, and also a person with a disability.
Religious beliefs are predictably not mentioned as part of the so-called TIDE Team, which stands for Team for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.
The school principal and science teacher have said some of their colleagues have privately sided with them but are afraid to speak out in fear of being punished, too.