A Virginia high school teacher, who refused to use the preferred pronouns of a student who claims to be transgender, was fired Thursday.
In a case that is believed to be the first of its kind in the state, the West Point School Board voted unanimously to fire Peter Vlaming, a French teacher in the district’s high school.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Vlaming “resisted administrators’ orders to use male pronouns to refer to a ninth-grade student who had undergone a gender transition.”
“I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening,” said West Point High Principal Jonathan Hochman, who testified that he instructed Vlaming to use male pronouns.
Vlaming, 47, had been teaching at the school for nearly seven years after living in France for more than a decade. He told administrators his Christian beliefs did not allow him to use male pronouns for a biologically female student – one he had previously taught when she identified as female.
While Vlaming agreed to use the student’s new, male name, he attempted to avoid using the pronouns – he, him, she, her – when referring to her. The student reportedly complained she felt uncomfortable and targeted with his refusal to use her preferred pronouns.
During a public hearing, Vlaming said he respects all his students and had attempted to resolve the situation based on “mutual tolerance.”
His effort, however, was not accepted, he said, putting him in the position of risking the loss of his job for having views held by “most of the world for most of human history.”
“That is not tolerance,” Vlaming said, according to the Times-Dispatch. “That is coercion.”
According to the news report, administrators agreed that Vlaming was discriminating against the student.