A teacher in Virginia is suing a school for $1 million after they fired him for refusing to use a trans student’s pronouns.
Peter Vlaming taught French at West Point High School in West Point, Virginia. He was fired in December 2018 for consistently misgendering a trans boy student, claiming that using the correct pronouns would violate his religious beliefs.
Though Vlaming’s bosses instructed him to use he/him pronouns for the student, he said that he couldn’t “in good conscience” do so. After one incident of misgendering, the student approached him and said, “Mr. Vlaming, you may have your religion but you need to respect who I am.” Vlaming reportedly replied, “I’m sorry, this is difficult.”
Vlaming then went to Principal Jonathan Hochman to discuss the exchange. Hochman told the teacher, “You know what you do to diffuse a situation like that? You say, ‘I’m sorry, I meant to say him.'”
This wasn’t the first time that Vlaming had failed to use the student’s pronouns after being asked. After a lengthy school board meeting, he was fired.
“We do not and cannot tolerate discrimination in any form, or actions that create a hostile environment for any member of our school family,” a statement from West Point High School said after the firing.
“Mr. Vlaming was asked repeatedly, over several weeks and by multiple administrators, to address a student by the pronouns with which this student identifies. The issue before us was not one mistaken slip of the tongue. Mr. Vlaming consistently refused to comply going forward – including in a statement made at the hearing – a willful violation of school board policy.”
Hochman said at the school board meeting that he couldn’t “think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening.”
Vlaming is now being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-abortion Christian law firm. He filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that his religious freedom and right to free speech were violated. He is seeking $1 million in damages, along with his job back.