A Florida judge recommended the state’s Education Practices Commission exonerate a Christian teacher who was fired for refusing to use a sixth-grade student’s “chosen pronouns.”
Yojary Mundaray taught science at Jose de Diego Middle School, in the Miami-Dade County School District. After her firing, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. added insult to injury by issuing an Administrative Complaint against her.
The complaint, with penalties that included revoking Mundaray’s teaching certificate and up to $8,000 in fines, alleged she “imposed her personal religious views” on the student, a girl who identified as a boy, whom the judge called “Pat.”
In a stinging rebuke to Diaz’s complaint, Administrative Law Judge John Van Laningham wrote, “This case is not about proselytizing but about transgender ideology.” He also called transgenderism “a kind of state-sponsored religion,” explaining:
Advocates of transgenderism can be as doctrinaire as religious zealots these days. As this case demonstrates, adhering to the traditional view that gender is biologically determined can get a person excommunicated, from a job in this instance.
Indeed, a reasonable argument can be made that transgenderism is fast becoming, if it has not already become, a kind of state-sponsored religion. Ironically, if anyone attempted to impose beliefs in this instance, it was Pat and, more importantly, the District who did so. Each sought to force Mundaray to conform her conduct to tenets of transgenderism, which she rejects. Mundaray’s refusal to convert to this new secular faith cost her dearly.
The incident started when Mundaray disciplined Pat and another student, telling them to stop “playing rough with the boys.”
The girl later approached her teacher, saying she was “transgender” and wanted to be referenced with masculine pronouns. Van Laningham described what happened next:
Mundaray explained that she could not do that due to her Christian beliefs. Pat’s response was, “I think God made a mistake.” Pat meant that God had erred in causing or allowing her to be born a female, rather than a male.
Pat’s statement contradicts the orthodox Christian belief that God is inerrant and infallible. Regardless, she was clearly criticizing God (or more likely, by mocking the teacher’s faith, insulting Mundaray). Mundaray replied, “I’m a Christian, and my God made no mistakes.”
“That was it, as far as the alleged religious imposition goes,” said Van Laningham, adding that “Mundaray made no attempt to force Pat to accept, conform to or even acknowledge any Christian doctrine.”
He called the allegation from Commissioner Diaz “untrue,” saying:
At most, Mundaray expressed her view that God is inerrant, which is about as anodyne a theological statement as one could make.
Further, she did so only in defense of the God she worships. Surely, such cannot constitute a disciplinable offense in a country whose foundational principles include religious freedom.
Mundaray appealed the complaint to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, which hears disputes between citizens and state agencies. The judge stated, “The Commissioner presented insufficient proof of his material allegations of fact against Mundaray,” and he recommended that the Education Practices commission “enter a final order exonerating Mundaray of all charges brought against her in this proceeding.”
Van Laningham also noted that under current Florida law, enacted on July 1, 2023, Mundaray could not be forced to use language about “gender” she did not believe. The judge wrote:
Further, no teacher may “be required, as a condition of employment … , to refer to another person using that person’s preferred personal title or pronouns if such personal title or pronouns do not correspond to that person’s sex.” …
In short, had the incident with Pat occurred today, instead of three years ago, Mundaray would have been protected against the significant loss she suffered simply for refusing to do what the law now deems “false.”
Judge Van Laningham is absolutely correct: Transgenderism absolutely is “a kind of state-sponsored religion.” And this state-mandated ideology has come at a high cost to free speech and religious freedom, to parental rights, and to young children whose bodies are permanently damaged and disfigured with drugs, hormones and surgeries.
We’re thankful for Christians like Yojary Mundaray, who are standing up for truth – even at the expense of losing their jobs.
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