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A school district in Texas that made the news when students were told to wear Muslim burqas as part of their lessons now is in the headlines with a man-turned-woman substitute teacher who enraged parents of fifth-graders.
The substitute was suspended this week by the Lumberton Independent School District, and a hearing was set for Friday to determine the next steps.
The “gender identity” of Laura (Kurt) Jane Klug became an issue when students began talking about it with parents. KFDM-TV in Port Arthur, Texas,reported Klug was asked by district managers to stay away from classes until the hearing.
Parents and educators took to Facebook protesting Klug’s presence in a classroom with “impressionable” minors.
One community member identified as Barbara McIntosh Mcewin said on social media, Klug’s class “spent more time staring at him” than taking their test “so he was pulled out for hall duty.”
Roger Beard, whose son was in Klug’s class, spoke to KFDM-TV.
“If it does affect my child and his ability to learn or if it causes questions that I don’t feel are appropriate then undoubtedly there’s an issue with having somebody transgender, transsexual or transvestite, to be teaching that age group,” Beard said.
A woman who didn’t want her name used, who also had a child in Klug’s class, posted a statement on Facebook.
“I did have to explain to my daughter what transgender was last Thursday afternoon because it was her home room class he was in,” she said. “I was none to[sic] happy to venture down that road with my 11 year old. Judge? No. But do I have reservations about WHY this person wants to be in our schools for $60 a day, you better believe it.”
In an interview with KFDM, Klug stated: “I have always conducted myself in a professional manner and would never discuss my gender identity in school.”
On Facebook, Klug has readily revealed worries and concerns, stating at one point: “My ex-wife has a boyfriend in California and is visiting him right now. I am feeding her dog (was ours) and mowing the grass (she pays me a little) My lease is up at the end of this month, I don’t want to stay in this area. My ex want (sic) me to rent her (used to be our) house. As affordable as she is making it, I can not live there, the memories of happier times are to (sic) painful to bear.”
Klug continued: “I pray with all my heart and might to God thru Jesus, but He has yet to answer me.”
Lumberton Supt. John Valastro declined to comment to WND.
School board member David Bradley responded to an email, saying Klug “does not have to be fired as substitutes are not under contract.”
“The district just fails to call him for the next day’s work,” he said.
Neither Texas law nor the school policy provides special protections for people who identify as transgender.
Changing students’ perception of Islam
It’s not the first time for controversy in the district. WND reported when students were found to be posing as Muslims during class.
Defending the lesson, Valastro said at the time: “I can honestly say, to my knowledge, Lumberton ISD has never converted a single student to Islam.”
It apparently was part of a controversial curriculum called CSCOPE, which had been removed from classrooms until it was reintroduced under the name “TEKS Resource System.”
CSCOPE had come under fire for controversial curriculum content, including accusations of multiple lessons showing a pro-Islamic agenda. CSCOPE representatives had claimed that such content had been “taken out of context” or that they were “old lessons that have since been taken down.”
In Lumberton, in a CSCOPE lesson on Islam, one student quoted the teacher as saying, “We are going to work to change your perception of Islam.”
After WND’s initial report, which resulted in inquiries by Fox News Channel and prompted national attention, school administrators moved to require the minor students involved in the burqa exercise to sign waivers about the class activities.
Valastro was also challenged when he banned a Bible study course at Lumberton High School.
The school administration never created a class on how the Bible has influenced history, the world and literature, despite a state law that required school districts to have such a class if a certain number of students requested it.