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US: Christian teacher fired for not using preferred pronouns

February 2019

Peter Vlaming appearing on Fox News (YouTube/FoxNews)
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A Christian schoolteacher has been fired from his position at West Point High School, in the US state of Virginia, after he refused to use a student’s preferred pronouns.

Peter Vlaming, a French teacher, said that using male pronouns for a female student identifying as ‘male’ violated his conscience.

Despite offering to use the student’s name the school board dismissed him on the grounds of discrimination.

Mr Vlaming stressed that he was not intending to be offensive or discriminatory saying: ‘I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke’.

‘I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith’.

His lawyer, Shawn Voyles, said that the school system was not respecting the principle of free speech enshrined in the US Constitution.

He said that there is a right ‘to be free from being compelled to speak something that violates your conscience’.

Mr Vlaming was dismissed by the school board on Thursday 6 December. By the following morning, supporters had collected over 1,800 signatures in an online petition.

Individuals expressed their outrage saying: ‘Mr V took a stand. He is right’. Another called it ‘a clear violation of free speech’.

This is not the first time a US teacher has been disciplined for refusing to use false pronouns.

In November a Shawnee State University student filed a complaint against a teacher who objected to calling him ‘she’.

Professor Nicholas Meriwether later said he would sue his employer over a policy requiring him to refer to students by their preferred pronouns.

Socially conservative Fox News presenter, Tucker Carlson, criticised the school board’s decision to dismiss Peter Vlaming.

Carlson said, ‘It’s almost impossible to fire a public school teacher for incompetence. Go ahead and try it, you’ll find out. But it turns out it’s very easy to get one fired for thought crimes’.