A Christian teacher in Virginia, who was fired for refusing to refer to a trans-identified student by using male pronouns even though the student is female, has appealed his case to the state Supreme Court.
Peter Vlaming, who taught French at West Point High School for seven years before being fired, appealed his case to the Virginia Supreme Court after the Circuit Court for the County of King William dismissed the case, conservative legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the Christian teacher, said in a statement.
Vlaming was placed on administrative leave in 2018 after he said he couldn’t in good conscience comply with the superintendent’s order to refer to a female student as a male.
However, the teacher consistently used the student’s preferred name instead of the student’s given name, and although he attempted to avoid the use of any pronouns in an effort to accommodate the student, he was nonetheless directed to cease “avoiding the use of male pronouns” to refer to the student, even when the student wasn’t present, ADF said.
“Peter has every right to fight this unlawful decision by the school board, and we will be defending him every step of the way,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, said.
“Peter went above and beyond to treat this student with respect, including using the student’s preferred masculine name and avoiding pronoun usage in the student’s presence. This was never about anything Peter said — or didn’t say — it is about a school demanding total conformity in utter disregard of Peter’s efforts and his freedoms under Virginia law,” Langhofer added.
The legal firm said their client is suing the school board for violating his rights under the Virginia Constitution and commonwealth law.
In December 2018, Superintendent Laura Abel said in a statement that Vlaming was engaging in discrimination by not using the pronouns. “That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” stated Abel, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch at the time.
“I won’t use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name but avoid female pronouns,” Vlaming said in response to the suspension at the time. “Administration is requiring that I use masculine pronouns in any and every context at school…”