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Raymond Zdunski, who was fired from the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) for refusing to attend an LGBT 'training' sessionWKBW / Screenshot

NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) –– A federal court has ruled against a New York educational employee who was fired for refusing to attend an LGBT training session that not only conflicted with his religious beliefs but, he says, was intended to change them.

Fox News reports that in 2018, Raymond Zdunski was fired from the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), a public entity that provides educational programs and services to state schools, for refusing to attend an LGBTQ training and makeup session that, he says, was “aimed at changing his religious beliefs about gender and sexuality,” and “would have caused him to violate the religious teachings to which he adheres.” He sought a religious accommodation, but was denied.

The employer claims he was “terminated for insubordination after he repeatedly refused directives to attend a mandatory cultural competency training program that was designed to facilitate a safe environment for both students and staff consistent with Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES obligations under New York State and Federal laws.”

District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford dismissed Zdunski’s lawsuit last year, claiming that “no facts in the record support a finding that Mr. Zdunski was terminated because of his religion; rather, the evidence in the record supports Defendants’ position that his termination was due to repeatedly refusing to attend a mandatory employee training.” This week, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that there was not “sufficient evidence” that BOCES discriminated against him.

“We are very disappointed that the Second Circuit decided the matter incorrectly,” responded Zdunski’s attorney Kristina Heuser. “This country was founded upon and for religious freedom, but these days people of faith — particularly Christian faith — are among the most discriminated against in our nation. Mr. Zdunski sought a religious accommodation to avoid a training his employer was requiring aimed at teaching ‘cultural sensitivity’ towards transgender persons.” 

“Mr. Zdunski was an account clerk,” Heuser explained. “He worked on spreadsheets in a cubicle. The training was not even remotely related to the requirements of his job. The Left will stop at nothing to force their ideology upon everyone, including stripping people of their livelihood if they do not submit to their beliefs. Mr. Zdunski refused to violate his sincerely held religious beliefs by submitting to teaching that contradicts what Scripture teaches, which is his absolute right under prevailing federal law. The Court’s ruling was clearly erroneous and we intend to petition the United States Supreme Court to hear Mr. Zdunski’s case.”

“It just seems like the country is against the Christian way of life, and it’s for everything else,” Zdunski himself said. “We’re not allowed to practice our way of life but anyone else can, it seems.”

The case represents the latest example of New York’s general hostility to individual liberty, particularly that of religious conservatives. Other manifestations, which have been less successful in court, include COVID-19 quarantine procedures, mandatory reporting of so-called “hateful conduct” on social media, and attempting to force pro-life pregnancy centers to hire pro-abortion job applicants.