Excerpted from Transgender Professor Fights Dismissal at Christian School, published Feb 2007, by Associated Press:
Julie Nemecek has long, manicured fingernails and wears a blond wig, makeup and dangling earrings.
She’s also legally a man.
Julie, formerly John, says she gained a lot emotionally after starting to live openly as a woman in recent years — cross-dressing, getting hormone therapy and, a week ago, legally changing her name. But she lost something as well: her job.
Spring Arbor University, a small, evangelical Christian school…, fired the 55-year-old associate professor earlier this week…
In a recent statement, the school said: “Our curriculum integrates faith in all aspects of our liberal arts education, and we expect our faculty to model Christian character as an example for our students.”
…After the Nemeceks’ three grown sons moved out, John started researching gender issues in 2003. He was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, decided he could no longer live a lie and told his shocked wife.
Joanne, 55, didn’t know if she could stay in the marriage, especially when John wanted to transition further into living as a woman. She thought John’s lifestyle was sinful but eventually changed her mind after learning more about his condition…
Being Julie, however, hasn’t been easy.
The Nemeceks had to leave their Baptist church… When Spring Arbor learned of Nemecek’s transgender issue in 2005, it let her keep working this school year but with less pay and responsibility.
She taught classes over the Internet instead of on campus and wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or female clothes on campus or speak with co-workers or students about being transgender.
The job reassignment, according to the school, was an accommodation and chance for Nemecek’s “restoration” because of her 16 years of work at the school “and our desire to act in a Christ-like way.
“The agreement didn’t last long. Spring Arbor sent Nemecek a letter in October saying she’d broken the contract by visiting campus in makeup and wearing a university T-shirt to a local grocery store.
“If we allow you to continue these appearances that manifest your current transgender circumstance, we open ourselves to questions of inconsistency in upholding our Christian beliefs,” Randy Rossman, the school’s director of human resources, wrote Oct. 26.
Nemecek filed the discrimination complaint five days later…
“We believe it’s their decision to make as a private Christian institution,” said Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan. “This is an adult role model for teenagers whose parents thought by sending them to a Christian school they were not likely to be exposed to such lifestyle choices and emotional problems.”
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