A Virginia high school teacher is out of a job after he refused to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.
Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at West Point High School in West Point, Va., was terminated from his position at the school on Thursday after repeatedly refusing to use “he” and “him” in reference to transgender male student. The unnamed ninth-grader and his parents had even met with Vlaming to express their concerns, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
At a five-hour school board hearing where a unanimous 5-0 vote determined Vlaming’s firing, the teacher read from a prepared statement citing his Christian faith as the reason for his refusal.
“We are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed on me,” Vlaming said, according to Richmond, Va., news station WTVR. “Even higher than my family ranks my faith.”
When asked whether the debate was worth losing his job over, Blaming told WTVR, “There are some hills that are worth dying on.” When asked whether he would refer to the student by his preferred pronoun if he returned to teaching at the school, Vlaming said no.
According to the school’s administration, Vlaming was told multiple times to refer to the student using male pronouns. The teacher’s refusal was a direct violation of the school board’s policy that strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
“By failing to follow the directive, he was therefore discriminating and creating a hostile environment,” Superintendent Laura Abel told the board.
On Friday, students at the school coordinated a walkout in support of Vlaming. Richmond, Va., news station WWBT published photos of the protesting students, several holding signs that read things like, “You can’t impose delusion on us! #JusticeForVlaming” and “Men are men and women are women and that is a fact!”
Shawn Voyles, an attorney for Vlaming, said he and his client had 10 days to appeal the Board’s decision, and may seek a federal lawsuit.