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Florida Judge Warns of Transgender Ideology as a New 'State-Sponsored Religion'

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A recent ruling by a Florida administrative judge has sparked a contentious debate around transgender ideology and religious freedom. Judge John Van Laningham issued a recommendation advising the state's Education Practices Commission to exonerate a middle school science teacher, Yojary Mundaray, who lost her job for refusing to use male pronouns to refer to a biological girl. In his ruling, Judge Van Laningham described "transgender ideology" as a "new secular faith" and expressed concerns about it becoming a "state-sponsored religion."

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
10/13/2023 (9 months ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Florida judge, transgender ideology, religious freedom, education, teacher, pronouns, state-sponsored religion

The case in question stems from a 2019 interaction where a student, who identified as transgender, requested to be addressed using male pronouns. In response, Mundaray, citing her Christian beliefs, declined to comply, stating, "I'm a Christian, and my God made no mistakes." This led to her losing her job in June 2020.

Subsequently, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. filed an administrative complaint against Mundaray, accusing her of imposing her religious views on the student. The matter was then brought before the Education Practices Commission, which had the authority to take more severe disciplinary actions, including suspending or revoking her teaching certification.

Judge Van Laningham's ruling suggests that the allegation of Mundaray imposing her views on the student is "untrue." He argued that at most, Mundaray expressed her belief in the inerrancy of God, which is a relatively benign theological statement. He emphasized that the incident was not about proselytizing but centered on transgender ideology.

The judge pointed out that it was the student, not the teacher, who initiated a discussion about God's nature. Mundaray's response was, according to the ruling, "polite disagreement with the student's theological statement, which was both heterodox and disparaging."

Judge Van Laningham also highlighted that the incident took place more than three years before a new Florida law went into effect, which prohibited school districts from firing teachers who refused to use pronouns differing from a student's biological sex. This law, enacted on July 1, 2023, also affirmed that it is "false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person's sex."

While the judge's ruling serves as a recommendation to the Education Practices Commission, it has ignited a broader conversation about the role of the state. The ruling suggests that some individuals view "transgender ideology" as a secular faith with zealous adherents.

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