By Lou Chibbaro Jr.
A lawsuit filed against Prince George’s County Public Schools and the county’s Board of Education charges that a female transgender teacher was subjected to five years of discrimination, harassment, abuse and retaliation by school administrators, fellow teachers, students and parents after she transitioned in 2011 from male to female.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 28, 2018 in United States District Court for the District of Maryland by the nationally known law firm Arnold and Porter on behalf of Jennifer Eller, an English teacher. On Dec. 20, the LGBT litigation group Lambda Legal joined Arnold & Porter in representing Eller.
The lawsuit says Eller taught at three schools in the P.G. County public school system from 2008 to 2017, when the lawsuit says she was forced to resign after school officials allegedly refused to adequately address the anti-trans harassment and abuse Eller encountered beginning in 2011.
“For years, I was aggressively misgendered, attacked and harassed in the hallways and even in my own classroom by students, peers and supervisors,” Eller said in a statement released by Lambda Legal.
“I woke up each day afraid to go to work because I didn’t know where the next attack would come from, but I already knew full well that the school administrators would do nothing to support me,” she said. “My pleas for help, for sensitivity training on LGBTQ issues for students and staff, fell on deaf ears,” she said.
“Finally, the harassment and the humiliation became unbearable and I had no other alternative than to resign,” she said in her statement. “No one – student or teacher – should go through the hell I was put through at school just for being who they are.”
The lawsuit charges that the treatment to which the school district and its administrators subjected Eller violated Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Equal Protection Cause of the U.S. Constitution, the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, and the nondiscrimination provision of the Prince George’s County Code.
In addition to Prince George’s County Public Schools and the Prince George’s County Board of Education, the lawsuit names as a defendant Monica Goldson, the school system’s Interim Chief Executive Officer.
John White, the official spokesperson for the Prince George’s County public school system, declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the school system doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Under court rules the school system, school board, and Goldson have 21 days from the time they were officially served papers naming them as defendants in the lawsuit to file an answer to the lawsuit.
The statement released by Lambda Legal says the alleged discrimination and harassment against Eller began in March 2011, three years after she began working as an English teacher at Kenmoor Middle School in Landover, Md. It was at that time, the statement says, that Eller informed the principal at the school that “she would be transitioning to live authentically as the woman she is.”
According to the statement, when she began to present as a woman she was subjected to verbal abuse by students and was instructed by school officials to “stop wearing skirts or dresses.”
via washington blade