‘This was never about anything Peter said or did; only about what the school was demanding he say…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A Virginia school board unanimously voted to fire a French teacher who refused to refer to a biologically female transgender student by the student’s preferred male pronouns.
Peter Vlaming, a teacher at West Point High School for nearly seven years, was fired after the school board held a public, five-hour long hearing.
A transgender student filed a compliant against Vlaming because the teacher would not refer to the ninth grade student as “he” and “him.” Vlaming said that to do so would be a “lie.”
Vlaming agreed to use the student’s new name but would not go farther than that, citing his Christian faith.
“We are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed on me,” Vlaming said during the school board hearing, according to WTKR. “Even higher than my family ranks my faith.”
Superintendent Laura Abel said Vlaming’s refusal to adhere to the student’s wishes was akin to “discriminating and creating a hostile environment.”
By firing Vlaming, the school proved that it, too, was willing to discriminate against Vlaming for his religious beliefs, argued the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal firm representing Vlaming.
“Peter went out of his way to accommodate this student as he does all his students; his school fired him because he wouldn’t contradict his core beliefs,” ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said in a statement.
“The school board didn’t care how well Peter treated this student,” Dalton said. “It was on a crusade to compel conformity … Tolerance, after all, is a two-way street.”
Abel, however, argued Vlaming’s continued refusal to follow the school’s “directive” and use the student’s preferred pronouns was “insubordination” that required termination.
“This isn’t just about a pronoun, it’s about what that pronoun means,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement.
“This was never about anything Peter said or did; only about what the school was demanding he say,” Langhofer continued. “Nobody should be forced to contradict his core beliefs just to keep a job.”