On April 11, 2023, the ACLU of PA and the law firm LeVan Stapleton Segal Cochran LLC filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Andrew Burgess against the Central Bucks School District. Burgess, who has been a middle school teacher at Central Bucks since 2006, filed a complaint at the behest of a transgender student and their family with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in March 2022 after administrators failed to address repeated harassment by classmates. The district responded by suspending Burgess in May 2022, informing him that his employment status was under review, and then reassigning him from Lenape Middle School, where he had taught since 2006, to another middle school just days before the start of the 2022-23 school year. The new assignment included switching from teaching eighth grade to seventh, new course material, and an increase in the total number of students in his classes.
Burgess also assisted teachers when school administrators began to censor teachers’ personal classroom library materials that dealt with LGBTQ themes. In the fall of 2021, he expressed his concerns to district leaders, and, when his building principal sought to meet individually with teachers who maintained a classroom library in March 2022, Burgess, who is a union leader, suggested that they be accompanied by a union representative.
The lawsuit states that the district has violated both the First Amendment and Title IX, a federal anti-discrimination statute, by retaliating against Burgess for his speech and for reporting discrimination on the basis of sex.