Watertown teacher who questioned students’ gender identities in letter resigns

Calvin Hillesland's photo from the Watertown School District's staff directory
Calvin Hillesland's photo from the Watertown School District's staff directory(Watertown School District)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 11:42 AM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Watertown teacher who faced scrutiny after giving letters to students refuting their gender identities has resigned, school officials say.

Calvin Hillesland’s resignation was accepted by the Watertown School Board in Monday night’s meeting, according to school board president Tammy Rieber.

Hillesland, who taught German at Watertown High School, gave letters to several students on April 25 attempting to open a conversation about their gender identity. The letter referenced an interaction where students asked Hillesland to refer to them by a masculine name, saying that was “wrong.” It also stated that the students were biologically female, and that while he realize they may feel differently, “feelings are like a mirage.”

Watertown School District Superintendent Jeff Danielson quickly responded, saying the district did not support the letter, and that the incident was under investigation. The results of that investigation have not yet been released.

The letter garnered quick backlash from some parents and students in the district. It also stirred criticism on social media, including a Tweet condemning the incident that has since garnered tens of thousands of interactions.

Other than confirming Hillesland’s resignation, school officials did not provide any further comment Tuesday.

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