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Iowa school district: Employee had temporary position, not fired for being gay

Attorney Ben Lynch says his client was fired in March 2022 for being gay. The school district claims the job was temporary and "his services were no longer needed."

IOWA, USA — An Iowa man said he was let go from his job in the Tri-County Community School District because of his sexual orientation, but it's a claim his former employer denied. 

Attorney Ben Lynch said his client was "hurt" when the school district fired him.

The client, who was hired as a substitute paraeducator,  does not want to be identified but alleged it happened because he was gay. 

In the preliminary case review, the complainant said his firing started because of a false accusation. 

In March of this year, a "parent accused complainant of entering and using the elementary restroom with female students."

The former employee denied this claim and asked the school to check the security cameras. 

The same day the complainant was notified of the accusation, he was also told "the school board agreed that they do not want complainant back due to the restroom complaint." 

The case review also stated the complainant believed "a proper investigation was not performed and that he was terminated because he was. Furthermore, he asserts that Respondent (school system) was apprehensive about hiring him initially because he is different, including the fact he is gay, has long hair and paints his nails."

Ben Lynch , noted "we believe that the complaint never would have happened if he was not gay and he never would have been terminated if he wasn't gay." 

Local 5 reached out to the school district for comment and received no response. 

However, in the case review, the school district said they let the former substitute paraeducator go because the "position was temporary in nature and his services were no longer needed."

RELATED: 'Shock and fear': Parent says sixth-grader was threatened while in school

Damian Thompson of Iowa Safe Schools said cases like this aren't uncommon. 

And when LGBTQ+ teachers are no longer present in classrooms, it can hurt students.

"When a student sees someone ... they identify with, their ability to a) pay attention but then b) to be able to succeed in the classroom grows exponentially," Thompson said.

A settlement was reached in the case, and Lynch's client hopes it sends a message. 

 " [I hope] that people realize that being gay or LGBT is not a safety risk to students," Lynch said. "They're not sexual predators, they're not scary to be around. They're human beings who deserve dignity and respect."

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RELATED: Lack of ASL interpreters hurting Iowa's deaf, hard of hearing communities

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