Apocalypse Noun: Teacher Suspended Over Gender Spat
Can three letters cost you your job? They can if they’re “s-h-e.” That’s the unbelievable dilemma playing out in a Richmond-area school. When French teacher Peter Vlaming refused to use a male pronoun for a female student, administrators gave him a choice: lie or lose your job.
Playing pretend used to be for kids. Now, it’s a condition of employment! For Vlaming, whose story shows just how far off the rails society is, started getting national attention this week ahead of his hearing. Like a lot of professionals, Vlaming knew the debate over these transgender issues was fierce. What he didn’t know is that one day it could decide his career.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening to the popular teacher, who was put on administrative leave in Virginia after a biological girl asked him to use male pronouns when he addressed her. Vlaming was willing to compromise, telling West Point High School officials that he would use the student’s preferred name but couldn’t — in good conscience — refer to her as “he.” “I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination.”
Yesterday, Vlaming had the chance to present his case to a school he’s served for seven years. In a wise move, he requested a public hearing so that there would be some transparency about the district’s agenda and any personnel decisions. So far, the support for Vlaming has been overwhelming. Students, parents, and local community leaders all launched a petition called, “Don’t terminate Mr. Vlaming,” which has more than 1,100 signatures. Other students are taking a more proactive approach, hanging signs all over the school that say things like “#Justice for Vlaming,” “Mr. Vlaming is innocent,” and “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
One junior, Forrest Rohde, is in disbelief. “I see this stuff on the news far away from here, but when it hits close to home and someone’s free speech is being violated, I have to step in and say something about it.” Like the rest of the student body, Rohde is getting quite an education in LGBT activism. “He’s a really nice guy… [and] he really does care about his students. The thing he will not do is change his ways of thoughts and believing in things just to conform to someone else’s ideologies.”
But in this case, it’s more than Vlaming’s beliefs. It’s science. It’s human history and tradition since the dawn of time. And ignoring that isn’t just harmful — it’s child abuse. That’s why the American College of Pediatricians, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association, representing over 30,000 health professionals across the nation, sent a letter to the Trump administration, applauding it for upholding the scientific definition of sex in federal law and policy. Together with 32 legal organizations, policy groups (including FRC), and independent physicians, therapists, academics, and bioethicists, they defend the idea that the difference between the sexes is “real and consequential.”
Thirty years ago, no one thought we’d be debating this. Now, we’ve actually gotten to the point where renouncing reality is a condition of teaching children! Imagine what kind of message that sends the next generation. “Your truth is all that matters.” Is that what we should start telling everyone in positions of public trust? Think of all the judges, jurists, witnesses, and elected officials who take oaths of honesty. If there’s no such thing as the truth, why bother? In fact, let’s have them swear to lie. That’s essentially what West Point High School is doing here. What’s next? Sending teachers away to government camps like China to have them “reprogrammed?”
This is education — not make-believe. It’s time we stopped indulging these fantasies and started teaching children the truth. That is, if enough teachers still have their jobs to try!
Originally published here.
A Veiled Threat to Wedding Vendors
Remember when liberals used to say, “Oh, don’t worry. Same-sex marriage won’t affect you.” Three years after Obergefell, “affected” doesn’t begin to describe what’s happened to good people across America. We’ve seen county clerks in handcuffs, bakers in court, chaplains demoted, sportscasters sacked, and even pizza joints panned. Now, deep into this LGBT experiment, it’s no longer a question of if a conservative will be challenged — but when.
Long before 2015, FRC warned about where this march to redefine marriage would lead. And for once, we wish we hadn’t been right. The wave of attacks against Christians keeps coming, especially in the wedding industry. Despite Jack Phillips’s success at the Supreme Court, there are still hundreds of people waiting for the same protections he won.
FRC’s Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy, Alexandra McPhee, turns the floodlights on a lot of these cases in a brand new publication, “Religious Liberty and the Wedding Vendor Cases.” A lot of Americans may be under the impression that the Masterpiece Cakeshop victory means that photographers, videographers, florists, and others are safe from government crackdown. I wish that were true. In the pamphlet, you’ll read the stories of just a fraction of the people still in the crosshairs. These are families and businessmen who stand to lose (or have lost) their businesses, tens of thousands of dollars, and their personal assets.
Wednesday night on “Washington Watch,” Alexandra and I talked about how different the country’s approach to religious freedom is now compared to the Framers’ day. “It’s quite a contrast to what the Founders envisioned when they penned the First Amendment. And right now, these folks in business centers are being asked to privatize their faith — when in fact, the Founding Fathers wanted to guarantee the right to religious liberty for all persons. And the right to free expression. But today, the laws are being suppressed to stifle the Christian conservative voices that are really propelling these cases.”
As Alexandra points, almost all of these vendors have something in common: they’ll happily serve anyone who comes into their store. “We saw that with Jack Phillips and Melissa and Aaron Klein… but the issue is, they just don’t want to be forced to celebrate an event that they can’t support in good conscience.” One of the most compelling examples of that is Barronelle Stutzman, who was actually friends with the man who’s suing her flower shop. In an op-ed, she shows just how wrong the media’s characterization of most of these Christian wedding vendors is.
“I knew [Rob] was in a relationship with a man and he knew I was a Christian. But that never clouded the friendship for either of us or threatened our shared creativity — until he asked me to design something special to celebrate his upcoming wedding. If all he’d asked for were prearranged flowers, I’d gladly have provided them. If the celebration were for his partner’s birthday, I’d have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance.”
“Marriage does celebrate two people’s love for one another, but its sacred meaning goes far beyond that. Surely without intending to do so, Rob was asking me to choose between my affection for him and my commitment to Christ. As deeply fond as I am of Rob, my relationship with Jesus is everything to me. Without Christ, I can do nothing.”
That’s not the testimony of a woman driven by hate or malice. Barronelle, like so many Christians in the public marketplace, is guided by her faith. And under our Constitution, that’s not only allowed — it’s encouraged.
If you want to know how you can help these courageous Christians, learn more about their stories here.
Originally published here.
A Biggs Day for Jerusalem
This time of year, most people’s focus is on Bethlehem. But thanks to President Trump, the attention is also on Jerusalem, where one year ago, the United States moved its embassy after more than 20 years of promises. In the Republican Congress, that calls for a celebration — and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) is doing his best to oblige.
Together with 42 co-sponsors, Congressman Biggs introduced a House resolution marking the first anniversary of the president’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. As “one of the United States’ most enduring allies,” Biggs pointed out that “President Trump kept a significant promise by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing his intention to move our embassy to Jerusalem. That embassy was opened in Jerusalem earlier this year. These milestones signify our commitment to our ally. I thank my many colleagues who joined me in this resolution.”
It was a “monumental” decision, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) explained, “not because he is the first president to promise this move, but because he is the only president who made good on that promise. I have supported moving the embassy since my start in Congress and am proud to have seen it come to fruition.” Too many leaders, House members pointed out were too afraid to make good on their word. Not Donald Trump.
“Anti-Semitism and terrorist threats must never deter us from standing up for our principles,” Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) insisted, “including a free and independent Israel with Jerusalem as its capital. In fact, standing up for our principles and supporting our allies is essential to creating peace and stability in the region.”
Now, a year into one of President Trump’s most consequential foreign policy decisions, maybe more nations will follow suit. Israel has the right to choose its own capital, and we’re thankful this administration was bold enough to recognize it.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.