A Florida teacher has lodged a complaint against their former employer, Florida Virtual School, after having shown the door for the use of the gender-neutral honorific “Mx.” instead of conventional titles like “Ms.” or “Mr.” in school communications.
The teacher identifies themselves as AV Vary instead of their legal name.
They also clarified that their selected pronouns and the sex assigned at birth are unrelated but their approach to teaching physics is entirely independent of these personal aspects. “They are so far from related. Getting fired for this, it’s absolute garbage,” Vary reportedly said.
They used to taught science virtually at the school until October 24. After being fired from their job, Vary filed a complaint with both the Florida Commission on Human Relations and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
As per reports, they alleged that it was a case of discrimination based on gender identity and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
However, the school, in a statement to USA Today, mentioned its obligation to adhere to Florida laws and regulations regarding personal titles and pronouns within the public school system.
Vary’s reasoning for using the title
Giving their reason to use the gender-neutral title “Mx.”, Vary said it was done with an intention to convey a welcoming message to students amid a backdrop of legislative actions targeting LGBTQ individuals and topics in schools.
Reportedly, Vary began using the title, which costed them their job, at the beginning of the school year
It is worth noting that the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in March 2022 prohibited classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.
“When this legislation came out, it was important to me to signal to my marginalised students that I was still a safe place, I was still a safe adult to talk to,” Vary reportedly stated.
The school initially accepted Vary’s use of “Mx.,” but communication from Principal KJ Anderson in August outlined an expectation for teachers to use traditional courtesy titles like “Mrs.,” “Ms.,” or “Mr.” in communications. Vary was also given the option to not use any title on their announcement page, only their name.
(With inputs from agencies)