Cincinnati Area-High School Dismisses Transgender Student Teacher

by: Jamie Anne Royce

A Cincinnati-area school district dismissed a Wilmington College transgender student in January on the second day of a student-teaching placement at Hillsboro High School.

In a statement the Hillsboro School District Superintendent Rick Earley based the dismissal on an alleged violation of the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators. Earley has refused to elaborate on the reason or to point out which portions of the code the student teacher violated.

“We expect all employees or anyone who comes into our district to be sure to understand the Ohio Code of Ethics for Ohio Educators,” said Earley to the Wilmington News Journal. “Any violation of that we take seriously because we want to protect the well-being of our students and that we protect the educational integrity of Hillsboro City Schools.”

But Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes on the basis of failing to conform with gender stereotypes,” said a U.S. Department of Education spokesman to the Wilmington News Journal. In April, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled transgender people are protected from discrimination in the workplace under this legislation.

Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education President Sam Barnhouse said he’s uncomfortable with the superintendent’s action and that when Earley informed the board of the action “not a whole lot of detail was given.”

Earley advised the board it was a matter of ethics, Barnhouse said. The student-teacher had discussed his gender-nonconformity with a class, and Earley felt that the person was there to teach and not to discuss personal matters, said Barnhouse.

The 21-year-old student teacher, who at birth was listed as female but who identifies as male and wears men’s clothing, said he advised the high school’s supervising art teacher prior to the start of the term he is transgender.

“I would much rather say it very openly and honestly and ask if they have questions, comments or concerns, than for it to get around and be misconstrued and be like the game telephone, where things aren’t passed around accurately,” said the student teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, to the Wilmington News Journal.

On the first day of class, when some students made he-she comments, the student teacher said he “felt more or less disrespected” and thought he needed to address it for purposes of establishing discipline and to avoid the “telephone game” effect.

At three prior student-teaching placements the he was not dismissed. He said he doesn’t expect to lodge a legal complaint in connection with his dismissal from Hillsboro High School.

Jamie Royce is a fierce fancy femme and mobile media machine, working as a freelance writer, reporter, editor and photojournalist. She also blogs at Stuff Queer People Need To Know.

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