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News / Clark County News

Law protects cross-dressing teacher

Male teacher wore women's pants to middle school

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: October 29, 2011, 12:00am

KATU-TV’s story is HERE.

A male substitute teacher who wore women’s pants to school did not violate any district guidelines and will continue to be part of Evergreen Public School’s substitute teaching force, an administrator said Friday.

Reports of the teacher’s clothing choices surfaced Wednesday after he substituted in a humanities class at Wy’east Middle School.

Roland Brosius, Evergreen’s personnel director, said he talked with the teacher, whose name was not disclosed, by phone afterward. Since it was a phone conversation, Brosius could not describe the teacher’s appearance. But the substitute teacher said he was wearing capri pants, Brosius said.

“My understanding is that he’s worn this before,” Brosius said.

Has the teacher ever worn a dress to work?

“Not that I’m aware of,” Brosius said.

Not that it would make any difference. State law, as listed in the Revised Code of Washington, is clear on that.

“A key point for people to think about: There is an RCW that prohibits discrimination against protected classifications, and that includes gender expression or identity,” Brosius said.

RCW 28A.642.010 defines the discriminations that are prohibited in Washington’s public schools.

“Discrimination in Washington public schools on the basis of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability is prohibited,” the law reads.

Brosius said he didn’t ask the teacher why he chose to wear what he did.

“I feel it’s his own freedom of expression,” Brosius said.

The district has clothing guidelines for teachers, Brosius said, but they aren’t gender-specific. The basic guidelines involve attire that is revealing and provocative.

Brosius said he wasn’t allowed to disclose the teacher’s name.

One reason for the conversation, Brosius added, was to let the man know that he was going to wind up in the news.

KATU-TV reported that several students were laughing at the substitute and making jokes about him.

And as far as classroom reaction goes, “We expect people in our district to treat all people with dignity and respect,” Brosius said

At last count, the report drew three telephone calls.

“I’m aware of only one call to the district office,” spokeswoman Carol Fenstermacher said in an email. “The person just wanted to let us know her opinion — which was she was unhappy about it.”

The Wy’east office reported that “they had two parents call to express their displeasure,” Fenstermacher said.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter