First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a physician assistant who was fired in 2021 from University of Michigan Health-West after she sought a religious exemption from referring patients for sex-reassignment surgeries and hormone interventions.

According to a Wednesday press release from First Liberty Institute, Valerie Kloosterman worked at Michigan Health for 17 years.  

“Valerie provides excellent medical care for everyone, but she cannot in good conscience use biology-obscuring pronouns or refer patients for experimental drugs and procedures that violate her religious convictions and her medical judgment,” Kayla Toney, First Liberty associate counsel, told The Daily Signal. “She treated all of her patients with respect and compassion and simply asked that Michigan Health respect her religious beliefs. She should not be forced to choose between her faith and her livelihood.”

First Liberty alleges that Michigan Health violated Kloosterman’s First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. Other causes of action in the suit include violations of the 14th Amendment right to equal protection and the Title VII protection against religious discrimination and disparate treatment.

Jordan Pratt, First Liberty senior counsel, told Fox News last month that “the reason why we took this case is there was a real injustice that was committed here.” Pratt added: “We have an extremely conscientious, caring, diligent health care worker who has served for 17 years, and her mother and her grandmother before her served in the same [University of Michigan] health care system.”

First Liberty previously sent a letter to Michigan Health demanding that the hospital reinstate Kloosterman. The legal advocacy group added in the letter that the hospital must assure Kloosterman it would “fulfill its legal obligations to respect its employees’ religious consciences” going forward.

First Liberty’s Wednesday press release says Kloosterman received exemplary reviews from patients and supervisors.

In the summer of 2021, she asked for a religious exemption from using pronouns that conflict with her understanding of biology and from referring patients to gender-reassignment surgeries. A diversity representative at Michigan Health reportedly called Kloosterman “evil” and claimed she was responsible for gender-dysphoric patients committing suicide.

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