Minnesota Surgeon Fired After Speaking Against Mask Mandates at School Board Meeting

By GQ Pan
GQ Pan
GQ Pan
Reporter
October 26, 2021 Updated: October 26, 2021

A veteran surgeon in Minnesota has lost his job after he advocated at a school board meeting parents’ right to opt their children out of mask mandates.

Hundreds of people on Monday rallied in Fergus Falls, a west-central Minnesota town, in support of Dr. Jeffrey Horak, who has worked at local Lake Region Healthcare for 16 years until last week, when the medical group that owns the facility fired him.

Horak spoke to attendees, some of whom held up signs with slogans such as “No to Cancel Culture” and “Parents Should Choose,” saying that he has received many supportive messages from the community since his firing.

“At the request of parents in this community, as a professional physician, I spoke to the Fergus Falls school board meeting,” Horak told the crowd. “I shared my expertise. Nine days later, I was asked to resign or be terminated. I choose to be terminated.”

A video circulating on social media shows Horak arguing at the Oct. 11 meeting that parents should be able to decide whether their children wears a mask at school. Despite opposition from the doctor and several other community members, the board voted to approve a two-week mask mandate for elementary school students, which expired on Oct. 25.

“This mandate across the board, that’s a tough place to go,” said Horak, who can be seen wearing his hospital scrubs. He argued that the idea that young children need to wear masks, or that they’re effective in protecting against the virus, is not based on scientific evidence, but on fear.

“Know what, this is about fear,” he said. “This is about death. Everybody around here is scared that a kid might die in this community.”

“Who does God put in charge of their kids? Their parents,” Horak told the board. “God gave each one of these kids to their parents. Their parents speak for them, and they may be wrong, dumb, or perfect in their decision-making, but it’s still their responsibility. It’s their responsibility, not yours.”

During the rally on Monday, Horak again encouraged the community to keep a strong faith and not be driven by fear.

“You spoke up about God and our rights, so we could live our lives with faith knowing God will take care of us instead of living in fear—the fear that has been pushed these so many months,” he said.

While Horak’s contract doesn’t allow him or his employer from discussing the specific reasons for his termination, some community members speculate that it is related to his remarks at the school board meeting.

“We’re very proud of him. For him to stand up and lose his job tells you something about the man,” Rick Bolinske, who described himself as a family friend of Horak, told Valley News Live, a local NBC affiliate. “He’s an incredible man, there’s no way he should lose his job for what he has said. We’ve lost our freedoms.”

In a statement to Valley News Live, Lake Region Medical Group, which owns Lake Region Healthcare, confirmed Horak’s departure, but didn’t specify the reason.

“We sincerely appreciate Dr. Horak’s 16 years of service to our patients and our organizations and we wish him the best as he transitions his practice from here,” the medical group said.

GQ Pan
Reporter