A teacher in Florida was fired after they asked to use the ‘Mx’ title before their name. The teacher is nonbinary. They worked for the Florida Virtual School. The statewide institution teaches students via online classes.
AV Vary, 43, has been teaching for 15 years. They have recently embraced their nonbinary identity and asked permission to use the gender-neutral title in class materials.
“I talked to my principal about it at first, I let him know that I was doing it. And, he didn’t say anything at first, and then about a month later he told me he needed me to change it,” Vary told WMNF.
In documents Vary supplied to the Orlando Sentinel, the school informed Vary that Ms., Mrs. or Miss were the acceptable courtesy titles they could use.
Vary says they suggested other possible titles.
“I was told that professor was not okay, Dr. was not okay for me because I didn’t have a Ph.D., but there are lots of people at FLVS who do use Dr., which, coincidentally, is also in violation of the same law I got disciplined for.”
The gender-neutral suggestion “Teacher” was also turned down. HR terminated Vary’s employment last month after failure to reach an agreement on their title.
“We had physics to do”
As far as Vary is aware, no students or parents made any complaints about their title. Vary didn’t even discuss their gender identity with students. They merely started using Mx on their emails and class materials.
“I didn’t ever say, ‘Hey I’m nonbinary’,” Vary said. “We had physics to do.”
Vary has now filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
They told the Orlando Sentinel that with a husband with a good salary, “I can fight this fight. I can be unemployed for a little while.
“I feel very strongly in standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Florida expanded its controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill across all school years earlier this year. State statute also forbids the use of preferred pronouns in schools. Some school districts have banned they/them pronouns for individuals.
A representative for the school told the Sentinel, “As a Florida public school, FLVS is obligated to follow Florida laws and regulations pertaining to public education. This includes laws such as section 1000.071(3) of the Florida Statutes pertaining to the use of Personal Titles and Pronouns within Florida’s public school system.”
No diversity and inclusion in Florida universities
As previously reported by INTO, Florida is facing a dire teacher shortage. Many educators have quit the state following the introduction of “Don’t Say Gay” (officially known as the ‘Parental Rights In Education Act’).
In a separate but related development this week, the Florida Board of Governors voted Wednesday to keep public universities from using government funds for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
“A state university or state university direct-support organization may not expend any state or federal funds to promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities that … Advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law, the “Stop Woke Act” , defunding diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Florida universities. DeSantis said at the time that students who want to study topics such as “gender ideology” should go to schools in other states, such as the University of California, Berkeley.
Main photo: An attendee at a Pride parade in St Petersburg, Florida, 2022 (Shutterstock)
The district has since backtracked a little.
Won’t somebody think of the children?