Using the wrong pronoun is a reason for firing teachers.
The West Point School Board has fired a high school French teacher following an ongoing transgender controversy issue at the school.
Peter Vlaming, a teacher within the school system for seven years, was fired from his position Thursday night after a five-and-a-half hour public hearing with the school board.
Vlaming’s attorney fought the Superintendent’s recommendation to dismiss the teacher based on claims of insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made by WPPS administrators.
“Miracles can happen, but I was prepared that this might be the outcome,” Vlaming said after the decision.
Students and community members lined the hallways of the school, some in support for Vlaming, others in support for the transgender student.
Vlaming’s attorney argued his client has rights as a teacher.
“Tolerance is a two-way street,” said Shawn Voyles, Vlaming’s attorney. “My client respects this student’s rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well… The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board adopted one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That’s where it’s compelled speech. That’s where it violates his First Amendment right he still retains as a public employee.”
This issue came to a crux during a virtual reality exercise back in October, where Vlaming said he called out “don’t let her walk into the wall” as the transgender student walked in that direction.
Vlaming claimed it was a slip of the tongue.
“I’m totally happy to use the new name,” Vlaming said. “I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke… but I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscious and faith.”
“That was in fact discriminatory because all the other students were being used pronouns, but this student was not being used pronouns,” Superintendent Laura Abel testified.
On Oct. 31, Vlaming was placed on paid administrative leave after West Point High School Principal Jon Hochman said Vlaming did not obey his directive to use the proper identity pronouns for the student (“he”, “him” etc.).
“An online petition supporting Vlaming, titled “Don’t terminate Mr. Vlaming,” states the student’s parents complained to the principal and Vlaming was asked to sign a paper stating he wouldn’t refer to the student as a female.
An investigation was launched by the Superintendent who moved forward with the recommendation to fire Vlaming.
Voyles said his client was sent a letter Nov. 6 by Abel stating: “My expectation is that you will treat [the student] the same as other male students, including using his preferred name and using male pronounces to refer to him. If you refuse to comply with this directive or if you have any further instances of using female pronouns or of avoiding the use of male pronouns to refer to [the student], it will be considered insubordination and will result in termination of your employment.”
Vlaming reportedly declined to fully comply with the school division’s demand.
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment,” Abel testified.
“The policy speaks not one word about pronoun usage,” Voyles said. “There is absolutely nothing in the policy, as the witnesses admitted from the school division, that speaks to that issue. Which makes that policy so problematic that it leaves it up to the individual for interpretation.”
HT: Louisiana Mom