A high school French teacher in Virginia is suing the school board after they fired him for refusing to refer to a female student who identifies as a male as “he.”
Peter Vlaming was placed on administrative leave last October and then fired from West Point High School in Williamsburg, Va., in December because he refused to use male pronouns for the transgender student.
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Vlaming, who filed a lawsuit in the case, the teacher used the student’s preferred male name, but avoided using male pronouns altogether.
He was fired after he refused to comply with the school’s order to use male pronouns.
“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 on ADF’s website. “The school board didn’t care how well Peter treated this student. It was on a crusade to compel conformity.
“He works hard to make his students feel welcomed. In his French class, he always calls his students by the name they choose. He even used the student’s preferred masculine name and was willing to avoid using pronouns in the student’s presence. He just didn’t want to be forced to use a pronoun that offends his conscience. That’s entirely reasonable, and it’s his constitutionally protected right. Tolerance, after all, is a two-way street,” Dalton said.
“This isn’t just about a pronoun, it’s about what that pronoun means,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “This was never about anything Peter said or did; only about what the school was demanding he say. Nobody should be forced to contradict his core beliefs just to keep a job.”
“Peter is a devout Christian. He believes that God created us male and female and that God does not make mistakes. What the school was asking him to do was to lie about his own beliefs—to say things contrary to his conscience,” ADF’s blog reported.
“This was never an option for Peter, who had come to know Jesus Christ through a Bible study in high school. He wasn’t going to use language—something he loves—to betray his own beliefs,” it added.
Vlaming is suing West Point School Board for breach of contract and for violating his rights under the Virginia Constitution and commonwealth law.