A Virginia high-school teacher was fired on Thursday after refusing to address a transgender student by the student’s preferred pronoun.
The school board of the West Point Consolidated School District unanimously approved the district superintendent’s recommendation to let French teacher Peter Vlaming go from West Point High School. He had previously been suspended with pay since October 31.
“The School Board has policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” said Superintendent Laura Abel. “As detailed during the course of the public hearing, Mr. Vlaming was recommended for termination due to his insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made to him by multiple WPPS administrators. As superintendent, it is my responsibility to enforce board policy, and due to Mr. Vlaming’s non-compliance I therefore recommended termination.”
I’m not sure what legal grounds Vlaming has to object. It’s insane, but that’s the school’s policy. More from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Vlaming, 47, who had taught at the school for almost seven years after spending more than a decade in France, told his superiors his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for a student he saw as female.
The student’s family informed the school system of the transition over the summer. Vlaming said he had the student in class the year before when the student identified as female.
Vlaming agreed to use the student’s new, male name. But he tried to avoid using any pronouns — he or him, and she or her — when referring to the student. The student said that made him feel uncomfortable and singled out.
The teacher had been there for seven years. He did not “misgender” the student, as some have said. He simply refused to use a pronoun to refer to the student. He was trying to work around the policy, even calling the kid by the new masculine name the girl now uses. But that wasn’t good enough for either the kid or the school.
There will be no compromises. You must comply in every way with this war on reality, or you’re out.
This is the new normal, as I said in The Benedict Option:
The workplace is getting tougher for orthodox believers as America’s commitment to religious liberty weakens. Progressives sneer at claims of anti-Christian discrimination or persecution. Don’t you believe them. Most of the experts I talked to on this topic spoke openly only after I promised to withhold their identities. They’re frightened that their words today might cost them their careers tomorrow.
They’re not paranoid. While Christians may not be persecuted for their faith per se, they are already being targeted when they stand for what their faith entails, especially in matters of sexuality. As the LGBT agenda advances, broad interpretations of antidiscrimination laws are going to push traditional Christians increasingly out of the marketplace, and the corporate world will become hostile toward Christian bigots, considering them a danger to the working environment.
I have talked to a number of Christians, in fields as diverse as law, banking, and education, who face increasing pressure within their corporations and institutions to publicly declare themselves “allies” of LGBT colleagues. In some instances, employees are given the opportunity to wear special badges advertising their allyship. Naturally if one doesn’t wear the badge, she is likely to face questions from co-workers and even shunning.
These workers fear that this is soon going to serve as a de facto loyalty oath for Christian employees—and if they don’t sign it, so to speak, it will mean the end of their jobs and possibly even their careers. To sign the oath, they believe, would be the modern equivalent of burning a pinch of incense before a statue of Caesar.
It will be impossible in most places to get licenses to work without affirming sexual diversity dogma. For example, in 2016 the American Bar Association voted to add an “anti-harassment” rule to its Model Code of Conduct, one that if adopted by state bars would make it simply discussing issues having to do with homosexuality (among other things) impossible without risking professional sanction—unless one takes the progressive side of the argument.
Along those lines, it will be very difficult to have open dialogue in many workplaces without putting oneself in danger. One Christian professor on a secular university’s science faculty declined to answer a question I had about the biology of homosexuality, out of fear that anything he said, no matter how innocuous and fact-based, could get him brought up on charges within his university, as well as attacked by social media mobs. Everyone working for a major corporation will be frog-marched through “diversity and inclusion” training and will face pressure not simply to tolerate LGBT co-workers but to affirm their sexuality and gender identity.
Plus, companies that don’t abide by state and federal antidiscrimination statutes covering LGBTs will be not be able to receive government contracts. In fact, according to one religious liberty litigator who has had to defend clients against an exasperating array of antidiscrimination lawsuits, the only thing standing between an employer or employee and a court action is the imagination of LGBT plaintiffs and their lawyers.
“We are all vulnerable to such targeting,” he said.
Says a religious liberty lawyer, “There is no looming resolution to these conflicts; no plateau that we’re about to reach. Only intensification. It’s a train that won’t stop so long as there is momentum and track.”
Eventually the US Supreme Court is going to have to make some kind of ruling on these transgender claims, which are not only a war on religious liberty, but more fundamentally a war on biological reality. Jordan Peterson, who is not a religious man, came to wide public notice after he refused to knuckle under to his university’s transgender pronoun mandate. Unlike an American high school teacher, he had tenure. Maybe one day the Supreme Court will carve out protection for modern Galileos. As awful as he is, I am grateful that we have a president who appoints conservative judges. That’s the only chance the Jordan Petersons and Peter Vlamings of the world have.
This is not a minor thing. This has to do with fundamental truth. As recently as a decade ago, if you had told people that the day was soon coming where a high school teacher in Virginia would be fired for refusing to say that a biological female was male, people would have accused you of being a hysteric.
But there’s no guarantee that the Court will rule in our favor, or even if they do, that the ruling will protect dissenting employees in private industry. If you are not preparing yourself right now for how you will act when — for most of us, not if, but when — you are forced to declare yourself on the issue, you are being foolish.
Peter Vlaming stood for the truth, and now it has cost him his job. You will hear certain prominent Christians say that you shouldn’t be alarmed by any of this. They’re lying. They’re preparing themselves and those who listen to them to capitulate, but they’re going to call it “cultural transformation.” They have the wind at their backs now, and they and their allies are likely to win in the short run. But they can only take away your integrity if you let them.
Peter Vlaming was unwilling to let them. What are the rest of us going to do to help Peter Vlaming?
UPDATE: Reader Mrs. DK, who is a friend of mine, comments:
And as Rod knows, they are not just coming for Christians or conservatives. In my case, I haven’t used a pronoun or a name with my own trans-identified kid or my kid’s trans-identified friends in three years. Think you can’t speak English without pronouns? You can — and you’d better. Come the new Inquisition, the ability to speak English without pronouns might be the one thing that keeps you out of jail.
My brother is a leftist atheist who teaches biology at an elite liberal arts college. He told me that he has stopped using pronouns with ALL his students. He said that it is impossible to have a rational debate with them about gender ideology. He told me that this is all about power and control, and the students’ demands keep on escalating. He is distressed that a whole cluster of female students in the physics department suddenly declared themselves trans, and immediately the tone of the department changed from “celebrating women in physics!” to “celebrating transgender people in physics!”
What is it going to take for more people to reach that “peak trans” moment — that moment when you look at all this and wonder where on earth has common sense and sanity gone?
UPDATE.2: I have verified that the Go Fund Me for Peter Vlaming is real. Please give if you can.