Christian teacher sues school after allegedly being fired for refusing to read LGBT books to children

News & Politics

A Christian teacher filed a lawsuit last week against her former employer, claiming that the child care center fired her for refusing to read LGBT-themed books to children. She accused the school of harassing and mistreating her because of her deeply held religious beliefs and objections to the content of the literature.

According to the lawsuit filed on Thursday, Nelli Parisenkova cared for children ages 5 and younger at Bright Horizons Children’s Center in Studio City, California. After four years with the child care center, Parisenkova was removed from her position in April.

Bright Horizons Children’s Center is an international child care provider founded in 1986 with over 700 locations in the United States. The school boasts its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In the complaint, Parisenkova stated that when she first started working at the school, she knew the school stocked LGBT books for the children. However, Parisenkova claimed that her supervisor at the time granted her an informal accommodation based on her religious beliefs that excused her from reading the books to children.

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Parisenkova said she never opposed other teachers reading LGBT-themed books to children but objected to personally promoting and celebrating same-sex relationships and marriage.

The teacher’s complaint said that on or around April 7, 2022, the temperature outside reached over 90 degrees, so the children could not spend time outside. To keep them occupied, Parisenkova read books to the children but noted that of the 12 books available, five of them promoted same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting.

Parisenkova stated that she felt pressured to read books that did not align with her values. While the children were taking a nap, Parisenkova claimed that she asked the lead teacher if those five books could be removed from the shelf for the rest of the day.

According to the lawsuit, the lead teacher removed the books without objection but later reported Parisenkova to the school’s director, Katy Callas. As a result, Parisenkova was called into Callas’ office, where the director allegedly “became increasingly angry” as she reprimanded the teacher for refusing to read the material to the children.

According to the lawsuit, Callas stated, “If you cannot celebrate with us, then Bright Horizons is not a place for you.” Following the heated interaction, Parisenkova claimed that she was escorted out of the building by security and placed on administrative leave.

The following week, Parisenkova submitted a written request for religious accommodation, which asked that she be excused from reading LGBT-themed books to children. The lawsuit stated that Bright Horizons categorically denied her request without engaging in any negotiations.

Instead, the child care center allegedly issued a counseling memo that contained false statements, terminated Parisenkova’s life insurance policy, and required her to undergo “retraining” for non-discrimination, harassment, and diversity.

“Ms. Parisenkova could not return to work without an accommodation; so, Bright Horizons terminated her employment,” stated the claim.

Parisenkova is suing the child care center for disparate treatment, failure to accommodate, wrongful termination, harassment, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge.

Bright Horizons did not respond to a request for comment, reported Fox News Digital.

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