[Fox News] Georgia teacher fired for exposing 10-year-olds to gender ideology sues district after months of unemployment

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A Georgia teacher who lost her tenure and was fired after she read a book containing a gender ideology message to 10-year-old kids sued her former employer with the help of her local teacher’s union. 

Katherine “Katie” Rinderle was a teacher at Due West Elementary School in the Cobb County School District for over a decade until she was fired for introducing gender ideology to students, despite having earned tenure. 

The district has a policy in place that restricts teachers from discussing topics that are “controversial,” “divisive” and “sensitive.” The lawsuit, filed Friday, said the policies and termination were causing a stifling environment for teachers to create inclusive classrooms. 

Rinderle’s lawsuit, supported by the Georgia Association of Educators, did not dispute she had read the book “My Shadow is Purple” to students. 

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The book “teaches children about non-binary identities,” a review from Social Justice Books said. 

“It is important that the child being non-binary is not painted in a negative light or criticized by their parents. It shows how parents can support and boost their child’s confidence. The author has positive messages for people that are different,” the review continued. 

However, not all parents felt the same way.

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For example, during Rinderle’s hearing in August, a mom said she was “disgusted” by the book reading, especially since she wasn’t able to be the first to bring up the topic with her child. 

Additionally, the district found Rinderle to be “adversarial,” “disingenuous” and “deceptive,” according to Employee Relations and Evaluations director Christopher Dowd.

The lawsuit argued that the former elementary school teacher did not teach students gender ideology per se, she merely read the kids a book on it and did not discuss it after the fact. The complaint further placed the origins of the book reading on the children, saying the students requested the book to be read in class. 

Dowd, during his testimony at the August hearing, alleged that “a lesson was taught about gender identity and gender fluidity. We are also concerned that Ms. Rinderle introduced her own personal feelings on the matter.”

He also said he found her defense that the students allegedly selected the book to display a lack of accountability.

“There was not a point where she accepted that as a teacher she would be responsible for anything that entered the classroom,” Dowd said. “I never heard her ask about the students… The concerns were always self-directed.” 

Rinderle was, at first, put on administrative leave as it was probed whether her conduct violated the district’s policy. The Cobb County School Board voted in August to terminate Rinderle and the Georgia School Board of Education upheld the termination Thursday. 

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The suit argued that the district’s “vague censorship policies enable arbitrary, discriminatory, and retaliatory enforcement against educators… who support LGBTQ students.”

“Rinderle has been terminated simply for reading an award-winning children’s book, written from the perspective of a student who does not conform to gender stereotypes, to her fifth-grade students,” it continued. 

Therefore, the actions by the district, the suit argued, were causing concern among teachers who would like to introduce LGBTQ content to students.

“Defendants’ Censorship Policies, practices, and actions, as described herein, prohibit teachers from… presenting information about gender identities and/or expressions that do not conform to sex stereotypes,” the suit said.

A teacher currently employed by the district was also named as a plaintiff and sought changes to the district’s interpretation or enforcement of its policies.

“Defendants’ Censorship Policies and their enforcement of the policies to prohibit, upon pain of termination, teachers from discussing topics, presenting material, or otherwise providing age-appropriate information to students about people whose gender expression, gender identities and/or sexual orientation violate sex stereotypes is prohibited sex discrimination,” the suit said. 

The district was contacted for comment and did not immediately respond in time for publication.

“Rinderle remains unemployed and is still reeling from the ‘shock at being so highly praised in my career to have it go away suddenly,'” the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing Renderle, said. 

“Cobb County’s district leadership has weaponized its vague censorship policies to terminate Katie Rinderle and caused fear and confusion among Cobb County educators who want safe and inclusive classrooms for their students,” Michael Tafelski, SPLC senior supervising attorney, said. 

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