Home/Rod Dreher/Under FFA, A Nation Of Peter Vlamings?

Under FFA, A Nation Of Peter Vlamings?

Peter Vlaming, a Virginia schoolteacher fired over transgender pronouns (From Vlaming family Go Fund Me)

Ryan T. Anderson emails to criticize the “Fairness For All” compromise proposal endorsed by some prominent Evangelicals, including conservatives, as a way forward in the LGBT rights vs. religious liberty debate (I wrote about FFA here last week.). Anderson says:

Two weeks ago many of us were concerned about the Virginia public school teacher fired for not using the proper pronouns. FFA could impose a nationwide pronoun policy at every *private* business, not just public schools, in exchange for exemptions for religious organizations. This would mean that many people of faith (and for that matter science) could only work at select religious organizations if they didn’t want to go along with the pronoun policy.

How could it impose a nation wide pronoun policy, you ask? “Gender identity” becomes a protected class in employment law.  A colleague transitions at work and requests people use the new name and pronouns. You decline. The colleague complains to the boss. If the boss takes no action, the colleague can file a complaint with the EEOC, saying the boss has allowed for a hostile workplace and refused to address it. Hostile workplace is a form of employment discrimination. Boss will have to discipline you for refusing to use correct pronouns.

So if you thought the Virginia public school teacher case was bad, FFA might take that national, and in private businesses, too.

FYI, Peter Vlaming, the fired Virginia school teacher, will be on Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight this evening (Monday December 17). If you would like to contribute to his family’s Go Fund Me (I personally verified that it’s legitimate), please go here. People who sympathize with the poor man’s plight are being generous. He has four kids, and was fired right here before Christmas.

If you are a supporter of the Fairness For All proposal, and believe that Anderson is wrong on the Vlaming point, please e-mail me at rod — at — amconmag — dot — com, and explain why. I’ll post your response.

UPDATE: My pro-FFA interlocutor who goes by the name “Smith” here responds (he’s a conservative Evangelical):

There’s no introduced bill. Ryan hasn’t seen a draft. He (and many other critics) are confidently but erroneously describing legislation they haven’t seen. (This is also the case of the untrue talking point that “FFA is about protecting only a tiny slice of Christian institutions and leaving everyone else behind”).

Substantively, Vlaming-type cases have been extremely rare in the 55%+ of the country that has SOGI laws, and even then they are (as in the Vlaming case) arising due to PC workplace norms run amok, not nondiscrimination law.

Even in our most conservative states, private employees have basically no legal recourse against employer policies like this. Interestingly, the one state that gives employees some free-speech style rights vis-a-vis their employers is Utah, and FFA supporters are seeking to carry that over into federal policy. FFA will not make this problem worse, and will likely make it somewhat better.

Critics will be able to raise many hypotheticals, and FFA is not going to solve every situation perfectly. It will create stronger religious rights in more situations than under current law or under a strategy that relies on “religious freedom only” proposals that FFA critics advocate for but which have no chance in our political system. FFA is about locking down as many religious protections as possible in a culturally realistic way and preserving the legal tools and the cultural space to fight in other areas.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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