Virginia High School Teacher Fired For Refusing To Use Transgender Student’S New Pronouns
by Jason Yates, My Faith Votes
A Virginia high school teacher was fired Thursday for refusing to use a transgender student’s new pronouns, a case believed to be the first of its kind in the state. After a four-hour hearing, the West Point School Board voted 5-0 to terminate Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at West Point High School who resisted administrators’ orders to use male pronouns to refer to a ninth-grade student who had undergone a gender transition. The board met in closed session for nearly an hour before the vote. Like a similar transgender rights case in nearby Gloucester County that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Vlaming’s situation could present a novel legal case as public bodies continue to grapple with how to reconcile anti-discrimination policies with the rights of religious employees. Vlaming, 47, who had taught at the school for almost seven years after spending more than a decade in France, told his superiors his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for a student he saw as female. read more
Vlaming, a father of 4, previously met with concerned parents. He said he would use the student’s new name and attempt to avoid offensive pronouns. However, an incident occurred when the student almost ran into a wall while wearing virtual reality goggles. In a moment of panic, he used the wrong pronoun in an effort to keep the student from hitting the wall. In turn, he was fired. According to research, there are approximately 150,000 teens who identify as transgender. Should Christians use their preferred pronoun? One side says yes, arguing that it is a sign of hospitality that shows kindness and strengthens the friendship (1 Peter 4:8-9, Romans 2:4 and Romans 12:9-11). Another side says no, arguing that such a gesture fundamentally lies to them (Colossians 3:9-19). Essentially, one side emphasizes speaking truth, and the other side accentuates showing love. While Christians disagree regarding the use of pronouns, both sides cannot forget that the command involves both showing love and speaking truth (Ephesians 4:15). According to a Brookings Institute study, one in four school board members somewhat agrees that “interest groups have significant influence over board decisions.” And Sixty-three percent at least somewhat agree they “listen to the ideas of organized interest groups and act on their input when deemed appropriate.” This should remind us of the importance of Christians being involved and active in electing and holding our school board members accountable.
Pray for Peter Vlaming as he is in the midst of this difficult time and pray the Lord will provide for all of his needs. And pray for this transgender student to be shown Christ’s love despite these circumstances.
If we want a Christian perspective represented on our school boards, we must be involved and speak out. I encourage you to take a few minutes today to look up your school board members and track their meetings and issues. This link can help get you started.