Skip to main content

Damiano v. Grants Pass School District 7

Description:  Oregon educators Katie Medart and Rachel Sager started a grassroots movement, “I Resolve,” to speak out on gender identity education policy and offer solutions that would allow teachers to continue teaching without violating their conscience and that would respect the rights of parents. After posting a video on their own website promoting their organization and proposed policy solutions, officials at Grants Pass School District 7 suspended, and then terminated, them for speaking out.

ADF clients Katie Medart and Rachel Sager
Friday, May 31, 2024

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral argument in Damiano v. Grants Pass School District 7

WHEN:  Immediately following oral argument, which begins at 9:30 a.m. PDT, Monday, June 3

WHERE:  U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Pioneer Courthouse, 700 S.W. 6th Ave., Portland. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Deputy Director of Media Relations AnnMarie Pariseau at (480) 417-3975.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be available for media interviews Monday following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Damiano v. Grants Pass School District 7, in which attorneys with ADF and Pacific Justice Institute are representing two Oregon educators seeking to protect their freedom of speech and religion.

Rachel Sager (formerly Damiano) and Katie Medart filed their opening brief with the 9th Circuit in September urging it to protect their First Amendment rights. The two educators filed a lawsuit in 2021 against Grants Pass School District 7 after officials suspended and then terminated them for voicing—on their own online platform—their opinions about local, state, and national policy. The two educators received overwhelming support from a number of free speech advocates, a feminist group, and medical professionals who care for children.

“Educators are free to express opinions on fundamental issues of public concern—like gender identity education policy—that implicate the freedoms of teachers, parents, and students,” said ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann, who will be arguing before the court. “Educators don’t give up their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, and public schools can’t retaliate against speech with which they disagree. Advocating for solutions they believe in should not cost teachers their jobs, especially when it comes to education policy, a topic on which they are uniquely qualified to speak. Teachers should be free to advocate for the good of their students. We are urging the 9th Circuit to make clear that government employers can’t discipline someone for expressing her views on such an important issue.”

“Educators who advocate for common sense and parental involvement should be applauded, not punished,” said Brad Dacus, president and founder of PJI. “We are privileged to stand alongside these brave educators and continue fighting for them at the Ninth Circuit.”

Sager and Medart have been in the education field for many years, including at North Middle School in Grants Pass. Sager served as assistant principal, and Medart taught science there. Together, they started a grassroots organization “I Resolve” to propose gender identity education policy proposals that respect the rights of students, parents, and teachers. The educators were forced to file a lawsuit against the school district for violating their rights to free speech and religious freedom. The district court ruled against them, prompting their appeal.

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

# # #


Previous News Releases

Legal Documents

Related Resources

ABOUT Mathew Hoffmann

Mathew Hoffmann serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Academic Freedom. Before joining ADF, Hoffmann clerked for the Honorable Robert J. Luck of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and served as an associate at Jones Day. Hoffmann earned his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2018. He graduated summa cum laude and served as an editor for the Notre Dame Law Review. He is a 2016 Blackstone Fellow. Before law school, Hoffmann graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science with honors in chemistry and a double major in government.