July 30, 2021
Two educators at North Middle School in Grants Pass, Oregon, have been fired for promoting what they call the ‘I Resolve Movement’ which they claim offers “reasonable, loving, and tolerant solutions” to transgender issues in the schools. The two people fired for their advocacy of this “movement” are Rachel Damiano, who was Assistant Principal, and Katie Medart, who had been a 7th grade teacher.
A 4-hour disciplinary hearing was held Thursday, July 15, attended by 65 people supporting Damiano and Medart. Other supporters chanted outside. The school board then voted 4-3 to terminate the women. In part the decision was based on documentation the women used paid time, school facilities and email to, among other things, seek support from conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro.
Opposition to Damiano and Medart includes an online petition at Change.org demanding they be terminated, and students at North Middle School who have been organizing against them.
I am adamantly opposed to their proposal which I believe is anything but “reasonable, loving, and tolerant.” I see it as cruel and potentially dangerous, even life threatening given the high suicide rate among transgender youth. On July 13 I posted The ‘I Resolve Movement’: A Kinder, Gentler Oppression?. There you’ll find a video in which Damiano and Medart spell out the details and rationale of their proposal, which I then dispute in detail point-by-point.
The Importance of Democratic Rights &
The Limits of Protected Free Speech
While I oppose Damiano, Medart and their entire ‘I Resolve’ campaign, this victimization of Damiano and Medart poses a threat to all workers — and to the very transgender students the firings supposedly defend. If the school board can fire Damiano and Medart for advocating their position, those advocating in favor of transgender students can be placed in similar jeopardy. The knife can cut both ways. It all depends on the whims and political viewpoints of the school board.
Technically it appears Damiano and Medart may have violated school policy by using school time and facilities to promote their cause. At most this possibly warrants a penalty of some kind — verbal warning or something — but not dismissal. The school board’s justification for firing Damiano and Medart was also based on a determination that the two women were “campaigning” by attempting to influence state and federal legislation.
Workers must be free to voice their opinions, political and otherwise, and to campaign for any cause or candidate they choose. This is a vital democratic right that must be defended for ALL.
That said, I vehemently disagree with Damiano and Medart’s assertion that the free speech rights of teachers and staff must include refusal to address transgender students by the name and pronouns they request. Disrespect and cruelty are not acceptable, particularly towards vulnerable students. As I said in my other post, this can be taken by other staff and students as justification to harass and bully the transgender student.
As one would expect, Damiano and Medart have filed suit against the school board. Stay tuned, I guess.