Texas College Refuses Lesbian a Job Interview

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com September 08 2011 2:20 PM ET

A college in Texas is being sued for reportedly turning away a qualified teaching candidate because college administrators perceived her to be a lesbian.

Jacqueline Gill, a Ph.D. student and former high school English teacher, was hired as a temporary instructor at Tarrant County College in August 2009. Upon hiring for her temporary position, she was told that temporary instructors typically transition to work full-time at the college upon successful completion of a one-year contract.

According to Lambda Legal, which is corepresenting Gill along with attorney Benjamin D. Williams, she received high praise from her colleagues, supervisors, and parents during her year of teaching. During the year, however, Gill punished a student for academic dishonesty, and the student retaliated by falsely claiming that Gill flirted with girls during class. She denied the claim, but English department chair Eric Devlin subjected Gill to a lengthy tirade against gay people, and said that "Texas and Tarrant County College do not like homosexuals."

In June 2010, near the end of her contract, she was not allowed to interview for a permanent teaching position.

"I'm a good teacher and I work hard," Gill said in a statement Thursday. "But none of that mattered once Eric Devlin suspected that I'm a lesbian. While I have never hidden my sexual orientation, neither have I ever told anyone on campus that I am gay. My partner and I have been together for over 12 years and we're both Texas natives. Finding a job these days is hard enough — no one should have to go through something like this."

Gill's case says that Devlin and Antonio Howell, division dean of humanities at the campus, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing her to interview for the permanent position  based on their perception that she is a lesbian. The case is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.