‘They didn’t want to listen’: Teacher fired for not using transgender pronouns speaks out
A high school French teacher who's suing the Virginia school district that fired him because he opted to use a trans-identified student's chosen name instead of their preferred pronouns, is blasting the district's decision.
In a scathing op-ed published by The Washington Times on Tuesday, Vlaming spoke out against the West Point School Board’s decision, saying that officials “did not want to listen” to his side or the perspectives of his supporters.
“They didn’t want to listen to my students and their parents, or to the clear directives of our state constitution (and Virginia law), or to what I tried to explain to them with my words and in the way I lived out my professional life on the West Point High School campus,” Vlaming wrote.
“Indeed, the administrators proved themselves deaf to virtually everything but the current political mandate which decrees that only one perspective on gender identity is to be accommodated.”
According to Vlaming, he allowed his female student who identifies as male to use a male French name during class and agreed to not refer to the student with feminine pronouns.
“Though I’d been trying hard not to offend this student, it wasn’t enough. When school officials understood that I wasn’t proactively using male pronouns with this female student, they told me that I’d have to immediately make a concerted effort to do so or risk losing my job,” he continued.
“Using the wrong pronouns would mean denying not only my faith, but objective reality. What’s more, it would mean sacrificing my freedom of conscience.”
Last month, Vlaming filed a lawsuit against the school board seeking a permanent injunction reinstating him and a permanent injunction stopping officials from punishing staff for their views on gender identity.
Vlaming is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative law firm that specializes in religious liberty litigation.
“He works hard to make his students feel welcomed. In his French class, he always calls his students by the name they choose,” said ADF legal counsel Caleb Dalton in a statement last month.
“He just didn’t want to be forced to use a pronoun that offends his conscience. That’s entirely reasonable, and it’s his constitutionally protected right. Tolerance, after all, is a two-way street.”
Last December, the school board unanimously voted to dismiss Vlaming over the incident. Superintendent Laura Abel said in a statement released at the time that they considered Vlaming’s actions discriminatory, noting that the student “felt disrespected.”
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” Abel said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.