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Judge: Kansas deputy’s demotion not due to sex orientation

September 12, 2018

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Kansas sheriff’s deputy was demoted because he couldn’t succeed at the police academy and not because of alleged discrimination based on his sexual orientation.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree last month dismissed a lawsuit filed by Kyle Appleby, who alleged Douglas County Sheriff’s Office employees discriminated against him, attacked his masculinity and called him a homophobic slur.

Appleby sued the Douglas County Commission last year alleging that sheriff’s employees participated in “sex stereotyping.” He said he has been openly gay at work since 2008.

Appleby was promoted in 2015 from a county corrections officer to sheriff’s deputy. His promotion was contingent on completing training at the Lawrence Police Department academy. He was demoted after failing to complete the academy.

The lawsuit alleged employees made offensive comments about Appleby’s masculinity, such as saying he had “drag queen eyebrows.” Appleby also alleged his superiors’ comments during training indicated that they thought he was “not sufficiently masculine to be a law enforcement officer,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Appleby’s attorney and county officials declined to comment Tuesday.

Crabtree’s ruling stated that the allegations may be true, but that the lawsuit doesn’t prove how the comments factored into his demotion. The judge also said evidence gathered from depositions showed that Appleby failed to perform at the academy to a degree that was unusual among Lawrence law enforcement.

“Many of the officers testified that plaintiff’s sexual orientation played no role in their reports, and several officers testified that they never even knew plaintiff is gay,” Crabtree wrote. “Sheriff Ken McGovern based his decision on safety issues and his belief that plaintiff lacked the required skills to protect himself and others.”

Appleby has worked at the sheriff’s office since 2006 and is still employed as a corrections officer.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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