A gay fifth grade teacher in Glendale, California, is suing the Glendale Unified School District after he was suspended and then fired for condemning transgender ideology at a school board meeting in April.

Ray Shelton, a 25-year veteran teacher, spoke at a Glendale Unified school board meeting amid concerns over the district’s promotion of LGBTQ+ curriculums to elementary students, including by an administrator stating that all children were naturally “socialist” and “queer,” The Daily Signal reported.

Parents also have alleged that the school district allows boys who claim to be transgender to share locker rooms with girls.

Glendale, a city in the San Fernando Valley, is part of Los Angeles County. Its school system has 32 schools and 25,000 students, according to the district’s website.

Shelton, who taught at Mark Keppel Elementary School, was named the Glendale school district’s “Teacher of the Year” twice, and earlier this year won the PTA’s Golden Oak Award. He attended the April school board meeting wearing a T-shirt that said “Make Biology Great Again.”

He told The Daily Signal that he was supposed to have been given three-to-five minutes to speak at the board meeting, though he was only given 60 seconds before he was cut off.

Two plus two equals four. The world is not flat. Boys have penises; girls have vaginas. Gender is binary and cannot be changed. Biology is not bigotry. Heterosexuality is not hate. Gender confusion and gender delusion are deep psychological disorders. 

No caring professional or loving parent would ever support the chemical poisoning or surgical mutilation of a child’s genitalia.

Transgender ideology is anti-gay, it is anti-woman, and it is anti-human. It wants to take away women’s sports, women’s rights, women’s achievements. It is misogyny writ large.

And I can also say this as a gay man, the gay people …

At that point, Shelton’s microphone was muted and a board member informed him that his time was up. Shelton sat down amid applause from the audience.

Glendale Unified prevented Shelton from returning to his classroom afterward. The next day, April 19, Shelton was visited in his classroom at 8 a.m. by Keppel Elementary Principal Kristine Tonoli and a Glendale district administrator.

Shelton told The Daily Signal that he was given a letter informing him that he was being placed on paid leave pending investigation after “several complaints” were lodged against him. He was subsequently fired.

But, the teacher said, all of the emailed complaints shown to him by the Glendale school district were made after he had been put on leave, not before, suggesting either that Glendale didn’t provide Shelton with earlier complaints or that Tonoli lied to him about why he was being suspended. 

All of the emailed complaints provided to The Daily Signal originally were sent after the meeting, at 8 a.m. April 19, according to time stamps.

After that classroom confrontation on April 19, Shelton was escorted to the edge of school property and told not to return unless accompanied by someone from the Glendale Unified human resources office.

Since those events, Shelton has been attacked by liberal activist groups. Media Matters on June 13 called Shelton a “swastika-wielding teacher” in a misleading headline for an article slamming Fox News and Shelton for what it called a “hate-filled tirade.” Media Matters writer Jane Lee didn’t cite Shelton’s comments to the school board or what role the swastika played in the situation.

Shelton’s “swastika,” seen in a photo in the tweet, is an internet meme combining four Pride/Progress flags into a swastika, mocking the transgenderism and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” movement as authoritarian, discriminatory, and dangerous, he explained to The Daily Signal in a Tuesday interview.

Applying Nazi imagery to political opponents, such as by drawing a Hitler mustache on photos, has been a popular method of demonizing and discrediting the Left’s opponents for decades.

But now, a law firm is suing on Shelton’s behalf for what it claims was retaliation against his First Amendment rights. The lawsuit states:

As a result of Defendants’ retaliatory, unconstitutional actions against Mr. Shelton, he was never allowed to return to his classroom or watch his students graduate, something he looked forward to every year.

Mr. Shelton suffered personally and professionally because of the damage inflicted on him by Defendants’ punitive actions.

He filed this action to restore his name and to vindicate not only his rights, but the right of all Americans, to speak freely without being burdened by the oppressive yoke of government censorship.

Asked what he hoped to gain through the lawsuit, Shelton said he hoped a legal victory would help strengthen free speech precedents.

“Once the principle [of free speech] is broken,” he said, “people can be silenced through fear—then that’s the end of our civilization.”

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