A Virginia teacher is out of a job due to his unwillingness to use a trans student’s correct gender pronouns. Courtroom footage from ABC WRIC 8News is here:
BuzzFeed News stated that Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at West Point High School in West Point, Virginia, declined to use male pronouns while addressing a ninth-grade trans boy in his classroom. As a result, the West Point School Board called a hearing on Dec. 6, at which the group voted (unanimously!) for Vlaming’s removal from his teaching post.
Vlaming reportedly said during the hearing, “A specific worldview is being imposed on me.” Vlaming also claimed that his Christianity was a major reason he could not refer to this trans student as “him.”
We have a feeling Jesus Christ would be happy to use an individual’s preferred pronouns, but hey, maybe that’s just us.
Vlaming served as a French teacher for seven years. He testified at the hearing that he had attempted to avoid pronouns altogether when it came to this particular student. Uh, okay. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that, in response, school board administrators present at the hearing advised Vlaming that he simply could not treat his trans students any differently from his cisgender students.
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that. They felt disrespected.” Laura Abel, West Point Public Schools Superintendent Laura Abel, said.
Vlaming was on record as referring to the trans boy in question by female pronouns at least once. On Oct. 31, during a class activity, Vlaming warned other students, “Don’t let her run into the wall.” (We’re also kind of curious about that class activity, for the record, but we digress.)
The West Point Principal, Jonathan Hochman, testified at the hearing that Vlaming had acknowledged that incident, but still continued to avoid male pronouns. He also testified that Vlaming said, “I like and miss the female version of the student.”
That very afternoon, Vlaming was reassigned to “administrative leave.”
BuzzFeed reports that Vlaming said during the hearing that he would use the student’s new name, but would continue to draw the line at male pronouns if he resumed teaching.
“I’m happy to use the new name, I’m happy to avoid the pronouns that offend. I am not happy to use male pronouns for a female,” Vlaming said.
Quite frankly, Mr. Vlaming, we don’t give a damn if you’re “happy” to use certain pronouns. They’re not yours to choose.
It’s encouraging to see the West Point School Board taking immediate action to oust a teacher refusing to acknowledge a young student by their true identity — both name and gender. However, it’s sobering to learn that some students held a walkout in protest of the firing of Vlaming, no doubt further alienating and dehumanizing the trans boy at the center of the controversy.
Still, we hope that the prompt action of this school district will serve as a precedent for other districts navigating similar human rights issues at their schools.
As one Twitter user put it eloquently:
It does indeed.
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