A New Hampshire student-athlete filed a lawsuit against his high school after he was suspended from football for violating the district’s non-binary gender identity and pronouns policy when he said there are “only two genders” in a text conversation with another student off the school grounds.
The Exeter High School freshman, identified as M.P. in court documents, was reportedly suspended from playing football and made to sit out a game after “denying the existence of non-binary gender identities,” according to the New York Post.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 4 in Rockingham Superior Court by Cornerstone Action, a Christian advocacy organization.
M.P. was involved in conversations surrounding Spanish language pronouns on the bus, and a female student who overheard the conversation said there are more than two genders, to which the suspended student argued that there are not.
Soon after the bus incident, the lawsuit stated that the two students got into “contentious” text exchange about gender identity. The texts were turned over to the administration, resulting in the suspension.
The lawsuit claims that the teen has the constitutional right to free speech, and the alleged suspension violates the New Hampshire Bill of Rights, as reported by Portsmouth Herald. It also claimed that he was punished for his Catholic beliefs.
“He in fact denied and will continue to deny, that any person can belong to a gender other than that of ‘male ‘or ‘female,’” the lawsuit reads. “The student will never refer any individual person using plural pronouns such as ‘they’ using contrived pronouns such as ‘ze’ or with similar terminology that reflects values which (the student) does not share.”
The lawsuit claims that high school administrators did not have the right to suspend the student because his text messages, initiated by another student, were sent while off campus.
M.P. wants to stop the high school from continuing to enforce its gender nonconforming student policy because of what he says is an infringement on his First Amendment rights.
The high school enacted a policy in 2016 that says that students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that relates to gender identity.
It also reprimands students who intentionally and repeatedly refuse to respect another student’s gender identity.
The lawsuit describes how a teacher in the student’s Spanish class asked students to introduce themselves. One student informed the class they considered themselves to be non-binary and wanted to be addressed by “they” as a singular pronoun.
Exeter schools Superintendent David Ryan told the Herald that he is aware of the lawsuit and the school is “in the process of reviewing this complaint with legal counsel and will be able to share a statement once we have completed that review.”
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