Wyoming teacher fired for refusing to call transgender students by their preferred names

"If you're a boy and you want to consider yourself a girl, I don't have to buy into that."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
A Wyoming substitute school teacher who refused to call transgender-identifying students by their preferred names has been banned from teaching at a high school in the Laramie County School District. His job is currently under review by multiple other schools, but he insisted that he won't back down from his stance on the names issue.

Gene Clemetson said that it all began at East High School in Cheyenne when a transgender student, who he described as a biological male, asked to be called by a female name during an attendance roll call.

"I said to him, very politely, I have to go by the name on the roster," Clemetson told the Cowboy State Daily.

The student returned with another teacher, who informed Clemetson that the student's parents had given the school permission to call their child by an alternate name.

Clemetson responded, "Well that's great, but again, if I'm calling the attendance, if I'm calling the roll, I'm going by the names officially registered with the district."

The principal intervened and told Clemetson that he did not fit in at the school and was not welcome back. 

"He proceeded to tell me he was going to report me to the administration and then had me escorted out of the building by his vice principal," Clemetson told the paper.

The substitute teacher said that if a student legally changed their birth name he would call them by their new legal name. However, Clemetson prefers opposition to the transgender names issue and stated that he will not tolerate being forced to call someone by a different name, which he claims is his First Amendment right.

Additionally, Clemetson said the principal of Triumph High School asked him to leave the building after a student, whom he described as a "young lady," approached him and asked to be called by a male name and he refused. The principal informed him that the HR Department would be in contact.

During the meeting with HR, Assistant HR Supervisor Vicki Thompson lodged multiple complaints against Clemetson and said multiple students complained to their counselors about him. Furthermore, Thompson said the school received a complaint from a female environmental teacher who accused him of turning off a documentary called "Plastic Wars" after 20 minutes and telling the class that the teacher was a "liberal radical and a tree hugger and an environmental quack."

Clemetson told officials that the allegation was "a lie" and that it "never happened."

Thompson proceeded further, reading more of the complaint from the teacher, and said, "After all the comments on my character, he proceeded to say plastic pollution is not real, and the oil field pays for their education." Clemetson denied this claim as well.

Under Wyoming law, district employees must adhere to administrative rules, and a US District Court Judge for the state ruled last year that teachers don't have the right to deny calling a student by their preferred name if official school policy requires them to do so. However, Clemetson views the names dispute as a free speech matter.

"Gender (language) is a First Amendment issue. Nobody should be forced to go along with someone else's thought process. If you're a boy and you want to consider yourself a girl, I don't have to buy into that," he told Cowboy Star Daily.

Clemetson's fate with the school district has not yet been determined.

The Post Millennial reached out to Laramie County School District for comment.
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