A Virginia high school teacher was recently fired for refusing to call a transgender student by their preferred pronoun.
"Thursday night, the School Board made a difficult decision after thoughtful consideration," the West Point High School Board of Virginia said in a statement. "It is the Board's responsibility to adopt and uphold policy, and we unanimously voted to affirm the superintendent's recommendation to terminate Mr. Vlaming."
Peter Vlaming, who taught French at West Point High School for nearly seven years, was terminated from his position last Thursday after a unanimous decision by the school board.
On Oct. 31, Vlaming was placed on paid administrative leave after the school's principal said he did not obey his directive to use the proper identity pronouns for the student ("he", "him" and so on).
The case involves a 9th grade student who was trying to transition from female to male and requested to be called by the male pronouns "he" and "him."
In October, Vlaming was teaching a virtual reality exercise in his class when he called out "don't let her walk into the wall" as the transgender student nearly bumped into a wall.
Vlaming said the incident in question was a slip of the tongue. He did, however, agree to only refer to the student by only his new name, citing his devout Christian faith.
"I'm totally happy to use the new name," Vlaming said in an interview with WWBT. "I'm happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I'm not here to provoke ... but I can't refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith."
Vlaming's attorney argues his client's rights have been violated.
"Tolerance is a two-way street," said Shawn Voyles of McKenry Dancigers Dawson, P.C. "My client respects this student's rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well ... The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board has one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That's where it's compelled speech. That's where it violates his First Amendment right he still retains as a public employee."
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