On Thursday, a Virginia school board voted unanimously to fire one of its high school teachers after he refused to use preferred pronouns to refer to a student who identified as transgender.
French teacher Peter Vlaming offered to call the student, who was trying to transition from male to female, by a male name but argued that using different pronouns would constitute a lie.
“I won’t use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name but avoid female pronouns,” Vlaming said, according to a petition to prevent his termination.
According to Vlaming, the administration required him to use masculine pronouns “in any and every context at school.” According to WTVR, Vlaming allegedly had a slip-up when he yelled out to stop the student who, at the time, was wearing virtual reality gear and almost ran into a wall.
The West Point school board’s vote received approval from superintendent Laura Abel who portrayed Vlaming’s position as “discrimination.”
“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” she said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
— Karina Bolster (@KarinaNBC12) December 7, 2018
Vlaming, however, contended that the school’s policy was intolerant and a form of “coercion.” He also indicated he would be open to taking legal action in response to the school board’s decision.
The case came as many other schools oversaw similar controversies and President Donald Trump’s administration considered defining gender on a biological basis. The definition would clarify that Title IX — a sex discrimination statute for schools receiving federal money — didn’t apply to gender identity.
As IJR previously noted, gender politics have become a prominent issue on college campuses. Last month, IJR interviewed Berkeley student senator Isabella Chow who faced retaliation after she cited religion when she abstained from a vote condemning Trump’s gender definition.
Earlier this year, an Ohio professor faced a situation similar to Vlaming’s and sued his university. His university required him to use the title “Miss” for a student who identified as transgender.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.