A Christian substitute teacher who was ousted from her job for opposing a same-sex-themed book has been reinstated and awarded $181,000 in damages and attorneys' fees in a settlement with a Georgia school district on Monday.
According to CBN News, substitute teacher Lindsey Barr was fired from Bryan County Schools last August after she voiced concerns about a book set to be read to her three children during a library read-aloud program at McAllister Elementary School. Barr asserted that the book, titled All Welcome, did not line up with her Christian beliefs. All Welcome features several illustrations of same-sex couples parenting and expecting children.
In response, Barr asked the school principal to excuse her children from the reading program. However, the school terminated her from substituting at any Bryan County School later that week.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm that represented Barr, first sent a letter to the district last September asserting that her firing violated the U.S. Constitution and urged the district to reinstate Barr as a substitute teacher.
Although the district declined the law firm's request, ADF filed a federal lawsuit contending that "The First Amendment clearly prohibits BCS from engaging in 'viewpoint discrimination,' or the punishment of speech where 'the opinion or perspective of the speaker' is the rationale for the punishment."
"Lindsey spoke out as a Christian, a mother, and a private citizen on an important issue – namely, the content and age-appropriateness of a picture book that the school planned to read to her kids and other elementary-aged children that conflicted with her family's values and faith. Yet school officials immediately retaliated against her for expressing those views and fired her from a job at which she excelled," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Philip A. Sechler said.
"We commend the school district for finally doing the right thing and understanding that the First Amendment protects the right of Lindsey—and all public employees—to express their concerns about what schools are teaching children without the government canceling them," he continued.
After the settlement was reached, Dr. Paul Brooksher, superintendent of Bryan County Schools, sent a letter to Barr informing her that she had been reinstated to her teaching position:
"Upon returning, we encourage you as a parent to raise concerns about material being taught to your children," Brooksher wrote. "Raising such concerns does not preclude employment in our district. For the future, we are focused on the value you add for children across the district as a substitute teacher. We sincerely regret that your separation from the school district caused any distress."
Meanwhile, district spokesperson Melissa Roberts told CBN News in a statement, "The insurance company for Bryan County Schools made a business decision to settle this lawsuit, to save the time, trouble, and expense of litigation. It has paid the settlement amount, with none of that money coming from the School District. The settlement agreement states Mrs. Barr was paid $45,000 and her attorneys were paid $136,000 for fees and costs. Both were paid by the insurance company."
"The District notes that there is no admission of liability on the part of the School District. In fact, the District Court Judge had denied Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction, determining that Plaintiff failed to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of her claims," the statement added.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrea Obzerova
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.