In a recent dispute at a high school in Vermont, a soccer coach was suspended for refusing to publicly apologize to the community for “misgendering” a trans student. This school has been the center of national controversy over allegations that the trans student infringed on the rights of young girls to change their clothes without onlookers. The soccer coach at issue is the father of one of those girls, and his firing raises a different question: does the school’s action infringe on his right to free speech?
This school’s superintendent has previously prohibited students from wearing shirts that claim ” there are only two genders ,” and children who say so have been threatened with disciplinary action. With children in school and parents out of school being censured, the free speech question extends to whether Americans have the right to even state that they believe there are only two, and not many, biological genders. Existing law is clear that they do possess that fundamental liberty.
In Meriwether v. Hartop , Ohio college professor Nick Meriwether was determined to have been wronged when he was disciplined for “misgendering” a student. The district court below noted that Professor Meriwether was a government employee speaking in the course of his teaching work, not as a private citizen, and that his speech was directed solely toward the student.
This was not true of Vermont soccer coach Travis Allen, who was speaking outside school in defense of his daughter on Facebook, not addressing the trans student at all. The district court noted : Speech by a government employee is protected under the First Amendment only if the speech was made “as a citizen,” while addressing “a matter of public concern.” … Speech on a “matter of public concern” is broadly defined as speech that can “be fairly […]
We Often Feel Like David Taking on Giants
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