One Iowa Statement on Violation of Newton Transgender Student’s Rights

Today, the ACLU of Iowa announced it is representing a transgender student from Newton High School after his free speech rights established by Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Schools were violated and his gender identity was not respected by a teacher.

According to the ACLU of Iowa’s media release, the student was in a class with Newton High School teacher Brian Smith on Nov. 14, 2016 when Smith observed that the student had written “love trumps hate” on his arm. Smith then proceeded to misgender the transgender student multiple times by referring to him as “girl”. Smith took the student to Assistant Principal Dave Kalkhoff’s office. Kalkhoff told the student that he would have to wash his arm or leave school grounds. He also told the student that he doesn’t talk to students about politics, and students should not talk about politics either.

One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel issued a statement supporting both the student and the ACLU of Iowa.

“This incident shows a blatant and dangerous disregard not only for this student’s free speech rights, but for his existence and reality as a transgender person. We are appalled that such disrespect for a transgender student was permitted at Newton High School. We thank the ACLU of Iowa for taking a stand and representing this student.”