A widely respected teacher in Virginia is out of a job and his family now has no income after he committed the gravest of politically-incorrect sins: He used the word “she” to refer to a girl.
On Thursday, Peter Vlaming was released from his teaching position at West Point High School after all five board members voted that his objection to using male pronouns for a female student was a fireable offense.
According to WRIC News, a girl at that school decided that she is transgender, and insisted that everyone call her by a new name. Vlaming had no problem with this, but drew the line at saying “him” and “his” to refer to a student who is biologically female.
The teacher and students who know him explained that this wasn’t about purposely insulting the transgender person, but rather about being honest and true to his personal beliefs.
“My religious faith dictates that I am to love and respect everyone, whether I agree with them or not. Because we are all made in God’s image,” Vlaming said in an opening statement at the board meeting which decided his fate.
“I am also aware of, and agree, with speech limits that are placed on public school teachers, concerning matters of religious faith,” the teacher continued. “However, we are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed upon me.”
By all accounts, the teacher tried to accommodate the trans student in many ways but does not believe his faith or personal code permits him to pretend that a girl is now a boy.
“I won’t use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name but avoid female pronouns,” Vlaming said, according to an online petition that circulated to protect his job. Over 2,500 people sided with him.
“Administration is requiring that I use masculine pronouns in any and every context at school. I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination,” the teacher continued.
For their part, the school is claiming that it’s an issue of tolerance … yet they seem to be demonstrating intolerance themselves.
“We do not and cannot tolerate discrimination in any form, or actions that create a hostile environment for any member of our school family,” declared the school board.
It apparently didn’t dawn on them that firing a member of their “school family” for his personal views was fairly hostile.
“What could be worse for your family than being fired from your job for not lying and violating conscience?” wondered Robert A. J. Gagnon, a Harvard-educated theology expert who is following the controversy.
A large number of students and parents apparently agree. “The public hearing was held in the Chorus Room, only allowing 38 members of the public to sit in on the meeting,” explained The Family Foundation.
“There were well over a hundred people who tried to attend the meeting in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. Students and parents sat in the hallway watching a live-stream of the hearing when they learned they could not get into the room,” the pro-family group continued.
Here’s the bottom line: Schools are supposed to be places where facts, reality, and critical thinking are held up as high standards. Young and often rebellious students should have a voice, but they are not the ones who run our schools.
The female student can still be treated with respect, as this teacher reportedly tried to do. She can still choose for herself how she wants to live outside of the school and make choices for herself when she’s an adult graduate.
But the reality is that this student is biologically a female, try as she might to pretend otherwise. Forcing the rest of the school and society as a whole to bend to her whims is not only contradicting scientific facts, it imposes her views onto other people. In a word, it’s dishonest.