A Michigan physician assistant claims she was wrongfully terminated, called "evil", and blamed for the suicide of transgender people by hospital staff simply because she refused to acknowledge the preferred pronouns of patients due to her religious beliefs.
The First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal organization, sent a letter of complaint to Michigan Health last week on behalf of Valerie Kloosterman demanding she be rehired.
Kloosterman worked for Michigan Health for 17 years but was fired last year after she sought a religious accommodation that would prevent her from having to use transgender pronouns or refer patients for transgender surgical procedures and drugs.
According to the letter, Kloosterman was met with hostility from hospital staff when she explained that her religious beliefs prevented her from agreeing with statements about sexual orientation and gender identity.
"She believes that God created humankind male and female, that one's sex is ordained by God, that one should love and care for the body that God gave him or her, and that one should not attempt to erase or alter his or her sex, especially through drugs or surgical means. She believes that she must not speak against these truths by using pronouns that contradict a person's biological sex," the letter reads.
When Kloosterman explained her stance to staff, a Michigan Health diversity representative became visibly angry and told Kloosterman that "she could not take the Bible or her religious beliefs to work with her" and "given her religious beliefs against gender identity-based pronouns and 'gender reassignment surgery,' she was to blame for transgender suicides." They also said she was "evil" and "abusing her power as a health care provider."
Despite the accusations, Kloosterman maintained that she has always provided the same level of care to all patients.
Less than a month later she was fired.
Now, First Liberty Institute is demanding Kloosterman be rehired and that they provide "religious accommodation" for her and other employees who might object to using gender-ideology based pronouns or giving referrals for gender transition surgeries or drugs.
The group claims Michigan Health violated Kloosterman's First Amendment rights and openly mocked and condemned her for religious beliefs.
"It's bad medicine to force religious health care professionals to choose between their faith and their job," said Jordan Pratt, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute.
"Valerie provides excellent medical care for every patient, but she cannot in good conscience refer patients for experimental drugs and procedures that violate both her religious convictions and her medical judgment," Pratt said. "Nor can she use biology-obscuring pronouns that violate her religious beliefs and could cause patients to miss potentially life-saving screenings."
"It is intolerant of Michigan Health to demand that medical professionals like Valerie abandon their religious beliefs and their medical ethics in order to remain employed," he added.
Earlier this year, the University of Michigan Health-West was named a "top performer for LGBTQ+ healthcare equity" by the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT activist group.
"Our mission requires us to relentlessly advance health for West Michigan — and there is no room in that mission to exclude anyone," UMH-West CEO Dr. Peter Hahn said in the announcement. "I'm proud of our team's commitment to inclusion as one of our core values and their enthusiasm to keep building on our progress."
Michigan Health had until October 3 to respond to First Liberty's letter. The organization said it would take further legal action if they did not receive a favorable response.
"University of Michigan Health-West is committed to providing appropriate medical treatment to all patients and respects the religious beliefs of its employees," a spokesperson for the hospital told CBN News. "Our organization does not discuss personnel issues and as such, has no further comment."