A fired Wisconsin public school counselor is suing Milwaukee Public Schools in federal court with claims that she was terminated because she denounced radical gender ideology at a public rally earlier this year.
Former Allen-Field Elementary School counselor Marissa Darlingh is being represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) in the lawsuit that argues she was terminated by government employees for exercising her freedom to speak protected by the First Amendment.
After giving a speech at a feminist rally in Madison, Wisconsin, in April on the subject of “gender identity ideology,” Darlingh was fired in September.
Marissa Darlingh sues school district for firing her for speaking out against 'gender ideology' https://t.co/HmFGXT1sy2 pic.twitter.com/jt5tKsuhiH
— New York Post (@nypost) November 16, 2022
During the rally at the Wisconsin state capitol, the feminist said that she stands in opposition to gender ideology being spread in the state’s public elementary schools. She told the crowd there that children should not be given “unfettered access to hormones—wrong-sex hormones—and surgery” in furtherance of genderism.
Darlingh said that as a professional who “exists in this world to serve and protect children” she could never support the medical or social transition of young kids.
The complaint filed by WILL says that Darlingh also said “f*** transgenderism” at the rally while caught in the “passion of the moment.”
Within a week of her speech at the state capitol, Darlingh received a formal letter from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) informing her that an investigation had been opened regarding her conduct. She was told the inquiry was to “determine whether to initiate educator license revocation proceedings against her for immoral conduct.”
Darlingh thereafter posted a statement in which she asserted her right as a private citizen to express her personal views about gender ideology on her own time. She added that identifying herself as a public school employee “doesn’t negate that right.”
A group that counter-protested the rally Darlingh attended campaigned for her to be fired from Milwaukee Public Schools. Her lawsuit said that her direct supervisor and two HR officials brought misconduct proceedings against her. That process resulted in her being suspended and subjected to a “no-trespass order” barring her from school property.
Darlingh’s lawsuit also alleges that she was subjected to harassment and hostile conduct at school because of her speech before she was suspended and ultimately fired. She claims that she tried to resolve her differences with the district, offering to “issue an apology to anyone who was offended by her use of profanity.” She also offered to meet personally with any students or parents who were offended by anything she said.
WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg issued a statement saying the district “blatantly violated Ms. Darlingh’s First Amendment rights.” He added, “Firing her for expressing her views on such an important subject is not only inexcusable, but unconstitutional.”
Darlingh’s lawsuit asks for an order that she be reinstated to her position with back pay and damages for the violations of her constitutionally protected civil rights.