A high school teacher in South Dakota who gave four students letters disparaging their gender identities has resigned, the Watertown Public Opinion reports.
Calvin Hillesland, who taught at Watertown High School, gave the students the letter on April 25 at the school, which prompted an investigation.
In the letter, Hillesland told the students that when they asked him to call their friends by masculine names, he felt it was "wrong" and "a lie." He also wrote that "biologically, every cell in your body is female, feminine. That's the biological truth. The same is true for your friends."
South Dakota. Zero days without being a national embarrassment. Local teacher at the high school thought it was a good idea to hand this letter to several students.pic.twitter.com/BjnJx4dLdG— Lee Bruns (@Lee Bruns) 1650927145
The letter sparked a small protest at the school on April 26. "We were all flabbergasted. Mr. Hillesland was always the nice teacher who always said hi to everyone, but he's lost all my respect," said Alex Rambow, a high school student who attended the protest.
”So, the letter talks a lot about religion and their identities and their feelings, on how they can’t count on how they’re feeling. Very much transphobic,” Amy Rambow, a parent of a student at the high school and LGBT activist, told Dakota News Now.
In a statement, the school district said the Watertown School District "does not support this sort of action, and we respect the rights of our students to be who they are."
"We want to provide a safe learning environment for all students. We continue to work through the situation and ask for your support as we handle it," the statement added.
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