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A Queer Community Speaks Up for Student After Teacher's Transphobia

Sign about pronouns

The biology teacher in Pennsylvania who refused to refer to a trans student by their pronouns is back in class, but the LGBTQ+ community isn't having it.

ALIQUIPPA, Pennsylvania (WTAE) -- The LGBTQ+ community is taking a stand after a Beaver County teacher refused to refer to transgender students by their pronouns.

Earlier this month, after a large showing of support for the high school biology and anatomy teacher, Daren Cusato was reinstated and allowed back on the job.

The South Side Area School District also suspended its policy.

Now, the LGBTQ+ community is taking a stand and showing its support for a transgender student.

"Honestly, I thought it was ridiculous. How much effort does it take to respect somebody's pronouns and to respect their identity," said Branden Dudek of Central Outreach in Aliquippa.

Cusato disagreed and doubled down, telling Pittsburgh's Action News 4 that it went against his religious beliefs and cited First Amendment rights.

But Dudek called the teacher's actions dangerous.

"Trans youth sometimes are isolated. They don't have any peers. Their family is not supportive. Their school district is not supportive, and it feels like just everyone hates them," Dudek said.

Another organization, Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities, has also spoken out about the recent incident. President Susan Kerr said more Beaver County residents have reached out to request yard signs and stickers for its #ProtectTransKids movement.

If enough funds are raised, partners like Central Outreach will be able to distribute even more.

"We need to really show that even if we are not directly in their life, there are people here in Beaver County that do love you, that do believe in your rights and want to help support you," Dudek said.

Cusato's school district declined to give details on the matter but said in a statement "South Side Area School District is committed to providing the best possible education to all of our students. It is our goal to move forward in developing policies and procedures that can mutually accommodate the needs of our students as well as our staff."

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Related: LGBTQ+ Rights Groups Celebrate International Pronouns Day

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