A Miami-Dade County teacher in Florida received the backing of an administrative law judge on Monday after she refused to call a transgender student by preferred pronouns, reportedly telling the student, “I’m a Christian, and my God made no mistakes.”
In December 2019, Yojary E. Mundaray, a science teacher, reprimanded a female student at Jose de Diego Middle School, referred to by Judge John Van Laningham as “Pat,” for what the judge described as “routine classroom horseplay.”
After the scolding, Pat privately told Mundaray that she identified as a boy and wanted Mundaray to use masculine pronouns when she addressed her. Van Laningham wrote in his decision that Mundaray told Pat she could not comply with the child’s request because of her Christian faith.
Pat replied, “I think God made a mistake.”
“I’m a Christian, and my God made no mistakes,” Mundaray responded.
The teacher was then accused of imposing her religion on the student, CBS News reports. Following the complaint, in June 2020, the Miami-Dade County school district fired Mundaray.
Van Laningham sided with the teacher, writing that the “case is not about proselytizing but about transgender ideology.” He called on the state Education Practices Commission, which has the power to discipline teachers, to exonerate Mundaray.
“Given that Mundaray made no attempt to force Pat to accept, conform to, or even acknowledge any Christian doctrine, the allegation that she imposed her personal religious views on Pat is untrue,” Van Laningham stated in his decision. “At most, Mundaray expressed her view that God is inerrant, which is about as anodyne a theological statement as one could make. Further, she did so only in defense of the God she worships.”
“Surely, such cannot constitute a disciplinable offense in a country whose foundational principles include religious freedom,” he wrote.
He blasted transgender “zealots,” referring to the movement as a “new secular faith.”
“Advocates of transgenderism can be as doctrinaire as religious zealots these days,” Van Laningham wrote. “As this case demonstrates, adhering to the traditional view that gender is biologically determined can get a person excommunicated, from a job in this instance.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Legislature approved this year a law establishing as a policy for Florida schools that “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex,” the judge noted.
“In short, had the incident with Pat occurred today, instead of three years ago, Mundaray would have been protected against the significant loss she suffered simply for refusing to do what the law now deems ‘false,'” Van Laningham wrote.
Referring to “Pat” as “S.S.,” the complaint against Mundaray alleged that, “When S.S. informed respondent that he identified as a boy, respondent told S.S. that God created him as a girl and does not make mistakes, or words to that effect, causing S.S. to become upset and/or cry.”
Mundaray was guilty of “personal conduct that seriously reduced her effectiveness as an employee of the school district,” the complaint stated, adding that the teacher violated principles of professional conduct.
“When probable cause is found, the education commissioner is required by state law to pursue the allegations. Ultimately, the Education Practices Commission could take a range of disciplinary actions from issuing a reprimand to suspending or revoking teacher certification,” CBS News reports. “Under administrative law, Van Laningham’s ruling is a recommended order that will go to the Education Practices Commission for a final decision.”
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