First Amendment Watch: Teacher May Sue Over Being Forced To Use Trans Pronouns

After years of litigation over whether he had a viable claim, a Virginia teacher fired in 2018 for failing to follow his school’s transgender pronoun policy is going to get his day in court finally.

On December 14th, the Virginia Supreme Court revived Peter Vlaming’s 2019 lawsuit against the West Point School Board, sending it back to the trial court that rejected it.

The high court’s unanimous decision makes it clear to future parties that Virginia will “jealously guard” the religious liberties of plaintiffs like Vlaming.

Vlaming was a popular French teacher at the West Point High School for almost seven years when he was suspended in 2018. His dispute with the school began in the fall, after he learned that one of his female students had transitioned over the summer. In the new school year, she wanted to be called by a masculine name and pronouns.

But for Vlaming, a devout Christian, it was one thing to call the biological girl by a new name, and another—against his religious beliefs—to call her a “he” or refer to her as “him.” He describes walking a tightrope in the classroom: to accommodate his trans student’s wishes, he used her preferred name; to remain “true to his conscience” he refrained from using third-person pronouns altogether.

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Jane Coleman | “Teacher Fired For Refusing to Use Male Pronouns For Female Student Can Sue School, VA High Court Rules” | December 20th, 2023


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