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I was fired as a school counselor for using free speech and saying ‘F--- transgenderism’

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Public schools are a scary place to learn and work in 2022, especially when you have integrity and morals. Nevertheless, I am a person who believes in the potential for public education to be excellent. I have been an elementary school counselor for almost a decade, and I am a radical feminist.  

On April 23 of this year, a Saturday, on my own time, I delivered a very short, unscripted speech at a feminist rally denouncing the threat that gender identity ideology poses to the physical and mental health of my students. This rally was on the steps of the state capitol, far away from my school district. For this I was fired from my job. This clear violation of my First Amendment right to free speech is why I am suing Milwaukee Public Schools and the MPS employees who were involved in my termination. 

I have worked in a few different urban public-school districts across the Midwest with hundreds of students who come to me with an array of experiences that shape their emotional lives. My politics have never interfered with my work or my relationships with students, their teachers or their families. After I spoke out in April, a top-down investigation began of my fitness to serve in my role as a school counselor. Ostensibly, this was because I said the words "f--- transgenderism" and for expressing my personal belief that a child cannot be born in the wrong body. 


Less than a week after my speech, the state of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) opened an investigation that could still result in my counseling license being revoked. Next, MPS suspended me and subjected me to a misconduct hearing based on my speech. The actions taken by DPI and MPS opened me up to harassment, doxxing, stalking and a protest staged outside of my home on June 18 during which several community members, including at least two of my coworkers, picketed, littered and vandalized my property. I've slept with a crowbar next to my bed ever since. 

Parents have opposed the controversial ‘Gender Queer’ book appearing in school libraries.

Parents have opposed the controversial ‘Gender Queer’ book appearing in school libraries. (Fox News Digital)

As an educator and a mental health professional, I feel it is my duty to say something when I see forces at play that threaten the well-being of my students. My choice to speak out, while not planned or scripted or even very well thought out, was informed by my years of careful research, writing, thinking and discussion of radical feminism and the role that gender plays in the oppression of women and girls.  

Gender identity ideology is a harmful and insidious force that has taken hold in public schools very rapidly since I have been in the field. School counselors have been positioned as arbiters of this falsehood which says, essentially, that children can be born in the wrong body. Science doesn't bear this out, and there are no evidence-based practices that support the continuation of gender identity education in public schools at the elementary level. 


Indeed, the MPS gender inclusion guidance cites only other districts’ gender inclusion documents. It is not based on any research in the field of education, mental health, endocrinology or any other scientific practice that would prove the promotion of gender ideology measurably improves student academics, attendance or behavior.  

Public school districts around the country are involved in this circular glad-handing and mutual reinforcement of false ideas that lead the public to believe that the only way to help a child who is confused about gender is to affirm them, put them on drugs to chemically castrate them, and get them in line for irreversible, mutilating surgeries of their healthy body parts. 

We have come to a point in time when speaking out against this ideology is essential if we are to improve the institution of public education in a measurable way. Unfortunately, speaking out still comes at a high cost both in terms of money and reputation. My word to other educators is this: you may be fired or at least severely punished for speaking the truth, but you must speak it. 


Our kids can’t wait any longer, and the preservation of their bodies and minds matters more than our reputation among woke educators and the systems that enable them. When you speak out you will find the people you need in your corner for support. You can count me as one of those people. I hope that I don’t have to consider myself a martyr for the cause, though. I want to be back in the classroom with you as soon as possible. I pray that the classroom will be a safe haven for real teaching and learning once I get there. 

Marissa Darlingh is a former school counselor at Allen-Field Elementary School in the Milwaukee Public School District. She currently resides in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area.