By Jon Herskovitz and Jim Forsyth
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Two Houston-area daycare workers who say they were fired from their jobs for refusing to identify a 6-year-old girl as a transgender boy said they have filed a federal complaint against their former employer.
Madeline Kirksey and Akesha Wyatt also said in the action, filed this week, that their religious liberties as Christians were violated.
Both were fired from a Children's Lighthouse Learning Center location this month for refusing to abide by the wishes of the child's parents who wanted them to recognize their girl as a boy, they told a news conference on Tuesday.
A spokesman for Children's Lighthouse Learning Center, which has locations in seven states, said on Wednesday it is company policy not to discuss employment matters publicly, and dismissed the claims that the pair saw any violation of their religious liberties.
"It is clear that an agenda is being played out in the media instead of what matters most - the well-being of a family and a young child. A young child should never be put in the center of another’s agenda," spokesman Jamie Izaks said.
Kirksey told a news conference on Tuesday she "took a stance, first off because of my beliefs. I trust God."
"I felt it was my obligation, after doing this for 26 years, to stand up for that child and to protect her at all costs," she said.
Attorney Andy Taylor filed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint on behalf of Kirksey and Wyatt for race, gender, age, and religious belief discrimination.
"On Friday, this little girl left the school as 'Sally,' and on Monday this little girl called herself 'Johnny'," he said at the same news conference.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by Alan Crosby)