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Right Opinion

Teacher Fired for Refusing to Call a Transgender Student by Preferred Pronoun

Todd Starnes · Dec. 15, 2018

A devout Christian teacher was fired from a government-run school in West Point, Virginia, after he refused to call a girl who identifies as a boy by her preferred pronoun.

The school district voted unanimously to fire Peter Vlaming, a veteran French teacher who is beloved by students. They accused him of “misgendering” a student.

“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,” West Point Superintendent Laura Abel told NBC News. “They felt disrespected.”

Vlaming explained to school officials that his religious beliefs prevented him from using male pronouns when addressing a biological female. He had agreed to call the child by her new “masculine” name, but the school district rejected that compromise.

“I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening,” said West Point High Principal Jonathan Hochman, “It was very threatening.”

He was basically given a choice — either reject the teachings of the Bible and basic human biology or find another job.

“Tolerance is a two-way street,” said Shawn Voyles, Vlaming’s attorney. “My client respects this student’s rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well… The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board adopted one viewpoint and required Mr. Vlaming, at the cost of his job, to repeat that ideology, repeat that viewpoint. That’s where it’s compelled speech. That’s where it violates his First Amendment right he still retains as a public employee.”

More than 100 students walked out of class to show their support for Vlaming.

Eighth-grader Cassidy Heidelberg helped organize the middle school students’ participation in the walkout. She agreed with other students that both sides should have their rights respected and valued.

“I don’t think they should shut Mr. Vlaming and his rights out like that,” eighth-grader Cassidy Heidelberg told the Virginia Gazette. “He has four children, a wife and it’s hard enough earning enough as a teacher.”

High school junior Forrest Rohde told the newspaper he is outraged by the school board’s decision.

“Everyone has rights, the student has rights, but so does Mr. Vlaming,” Rohde said. “This is violating Mr. Vlaming’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion. He cares about his students and we care about him.”

So now a good and decent teacher, a father of four children, is unemployed — simply for following the tenets of his faith and refusing to comply with the sex and gender revolutionaries who run West Point High School.

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