Someone’s not getting a novelty mug for Christmas!
Virginia high school teacher Peter Vlaming was fired from his position at West Point High School, last Thursday in a unanimous vote by the West Point School Board after refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.The school board told the press that he was officially fired for “insubordination” in a statement.
The ninth-grade student’s family informed the school of his transition over the summer so that faculty would be prepared to use his correct pronouns when school started again. While reports say that the French teacher only called the student by incorrect pronouns when discussing him with other faculty, witnesses say that he once used female pronouns when asking other pupils to stop the student from running into a wall. Later, during a discussion with administration, Vlaming refused to use male pronouns when talking about the student, claiming that doing so conflicted with his beliefs.
Shawn Voyles, Vlaming’s attorney, said that while his client refused to use the student’s correct pronouns, he offered to not use feminine pronouns and only refer to them by name. While he clearly felt this was some sort of compromise, the school disagreed. The teacher said that he lost his position for an ideology held by “most of the world for most of human history,” which is a long synonym for “bigotry.”
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” said West Point schools Superintendent Laura Abel, as reported by the Associated Press. “They felt disrespected.”
“I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening,” said West Point High Principal Jonathan Hochman.
According to a survey by GLSEN, 75% of transgender youth report feeling unsafe at school.