A white, heterosexual, cisgender, physically able man has filed a lawsuit with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination based on “Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sex, Disability.”
His lawyer, Iris Halpern, told reporters, “we are seeing a new hearkening toward Jim Crow.” Satirical lede from The Onion? Nope. It’s right out of the Denver dailies.
Headlines should have read “fired school superintendent lodges laughable lawsuit in effort to overturn election results” because that’s what Douglas County former superintendent Corey Wise is trying to do.
The lawsuit claims that the district’s board majority discriminated against him because of his “advocacy for youth and staff of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and students with disabilities.”
By advocacy he means instituting universal masking and implementing the district’s equity policy. Because board members were critical of these actions, they were guilty of “Associational Discrimination” by firing him.
It’s like when Newsmax host Greg Kelly featured pale-skinned politico Ben Shapiro in a television segment on black conservatives this week and then justified the inclusion because Shapiro, though white, is one of the “heroes” of the black conservative movement. Like associational heroism, associational discrimination entitles a white middle-aged man to claim discrimination when he believes he is defending minority groups.
The lawsuit claims Douglas County majority board members harbor racist, homophobic, ableist ideologies because they oppose mandatory masking and leftist education fads. The lawsuit quotes at length campaign statements critical of Wise’s actions, for example, his involvement in the lawsuit against the health department for allowing student exemptions from masking and the hiring of the Gemini Group as part of the equity policy implementation.
The Gemini Group conducted a training on systemic racism, implicit bias, equity, intersectionality, oppression, and micro-aggressions — all bywords of Critical Race Theory. They preach that inequitable educational outcomes are the result of racist policies and implicit biases, a CRT article of faith.
The suit also labels board candidates’ criticism of controversial sex and gender instruction as “Other Signs of Unlawful Bias and Hostility During the Campaign.” It appears Wise’s legal team may have skipped courses on 1st Amendment jurisprudence in law school. Moreover, they don’t seem to understand that vocal opposition to masking and controversial instruction is the reason Peterson, Myers, Williams, and Winegar earned the majority vote. It’s the reason that voters flipped school board majorities around the country.
Do Wise and his legal team think the majority of the district’s voters are bigots? Halpern’s statements likening opposition to masking and CRT to support for segregationist Jim Crow laws suggest as much. Support our preferred policies or show us your Klan card is a classic example of the false dichotomy fallacy and it’s telling about Halpern and her client’s views of the electorate.
The lawsuit reeks of entitlement as if an executive gets to keep his job no matter the will of the public. Elections have consequences and new boards get to hire an executive that will carry out their goals. Ask former CU President Mark Kennedy. Ask any appointed official. Election night results determine their future employment. Accusing the board and the electorate of discrimination reveals something sour about one’s character.
What does Wise want? The lawsuit doesn’t specify damages. His old job back? A chance to reinstitute masking and the equity policy? Another payout? Why stop there? How about an election do over?
Let’s recognize this lawsuit for what it is — an effort to overturn the will of the voters.
Krista L. Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer.
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