Two women fired by a Houston-area daycare say their rights were violated when they were terminated for refusing to accept the transgender child of a gay couple, and ProjectQ reports they’re threatening to file a federal lawsuit.
Madeline Kirksey (pictured above, center) and Akesha Bogany Wyatt are represented by notoriously antigay attorneys Briscoe Cain and Andy Taylor, the latter of whom led the legal fight to overturn Houston's nondiscrimination ordinance, notes ProjectQ.
On Tuesday, the attorneys held a news conference to announce the filing of a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that the Children's Lighthouse Learning Centers in Katy, Texas had violated the religious rights of their clients. During that conference, Taylor publicly dismissed the wishes of both the child and his parents by repeatedly referring to him as a girl:
"A little 6-year-old is not yet ready to make those types of choices. At that age, they are still trying to decide what kind of ice cream and what kind of breakfast cereal they enjoy. Their opinions on things change not only on a daily basis but an hourly basis. And so to empower and indeed to inflict upon a little 6-year-old girl the heavy decision of their sexual identity is nothing short of child abuse."
Taylor argued that the firings violated the Constitutional rights of the women, and hinted that the EEOC complaint would allege the firings were illegal based on religious, gender and age discrimination, according to ProjectQ.
"Madeline Kirksey and Akesha Wyatt stood up not only based on their own faith, their religious convictions, but they stood up for this little girl and they said 'not so fast,'" Taylor said.
ProjectQ identified Taylor (pictured above, right) as an antigay activist who challenged HERO in court, lost, and then won in a Texas Supreme Court decision that prompted the November 3 referendum that resulted in HERO’s defeat. Cain (pictured above left) is also an attorney as well as a failed politician who was endorsed by antigay activist Steven Hotze, a Houston doctor who funded the repeal effort. Cain told reporters he sees this case as part of the religious right’s larger struggle:
“There is an agenda going on right now in the country and that agenda has no concern with the health or welfare of children or the moral consciences and the religious beliefs of others. It is concerned with one thing and that is to change, fundamentally, the fabric of our culture.”
Kirksey, who said she was a manager at the Children's Lighthouse Learning Center, told Houston TV station KRIV that the child's parents gave the school little advance notice of their son’s transition, and cut his hair short. When she lobbied school administrators to inform the parents of all students that the child was transgender, she and Wyatt were fired, she said.
The women were dismissed the same day HERO was defeated. The ordinance protected 15 classes of citizens — including LGBT people — from discrimination. Taylor helped lead the vastly outspent opposition to victory with one misleading, provably false transphobic scare tactic that ultimately became a memorable and successful slogan: "No men in women's restrooms."
Taylor repeated that theme at Tuesday’s news conference:
"Can you only imagine the reaction of a couple of dozen 6-year-olds when they learn that Sally all of the sudden is Johnny? They may think this is a cruel game of Opposite Day where whatever they feel like they can say they are the opposite gender of who they really are. Are we going to have little girls running into boys' restrooms and little boys running into girls' restrooms?"
"This isn't a problem that is just limited to Katy, Texas. This is a problem that can happen to every parent of a child in a school setting whether it's public or private in every state of our fine nation. And so it's time to take a stand and to push back and to say, you know what, we're not going to allow little girls to be humiliated and attacked in a school setting simply because their gay parents declare, suddenly, that they are a little boy.”