A Virginia teacher has been fired by unanimous school board decision for referring to a recently-transgendered student by name in lieu of pronouns in a landmark decision.
Likely the first decision of its kind in the state, West Point School Board delivered a 5-0 verdict in favor of terminating high school French teacher Peter Vlaming during a four-hour hearing packed with supporters of Vlaming, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Vlaming had been placed on administrative leave following a discrimination complaint by student’s parents because Vlaming agreed to call the child by the newly-adopted first name, but not the new preferred pronouns, citing his Christian faith.
Vlaming had personally taught the student before and after switch.
An online petition in support of Vlaming, who also served as a bus driver and soccer coach, has accumulated over 1,000 signatures and quotes him as saying:
“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. [The] administration is requiring that I use masculine pronouns in any and every context at school. I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination.”
Vlaming’s lawyer, Shawn Voyles, argues that his client’s constitutional rights have been violated.
“One of those rights that is not curtailed is to be free from being compelled to speak something that violates your conscience,” Voyles said.
Vlaming has indicated he would be interested in pursuing a legal appeal.
“I have to research how we would do that, what that would entail,” Vlaming said. “I do think it’s a serious question of First Amendment rights.”
“I am being punished for what I haven’t said.”
Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst