WEST POINT, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — The Supreme Court of Virginia is hearing the case of a teacher who was fired after he refused to call a girl a boy.
Peter Vlaming’s lawyers argue that “he was fired for something he couldn’t say.”
Vlaming had been a French teacher at Virginia’s West Point High School for seven years when he was fired in late 2018; he had refused to refer to a female student as a boy.
Following the 2018 summer recess, one of Vlaming’s female students had “transitioned” to living as a boy and desired to be referred to as one. While Vlaming used the child’s chosen male name to refer to her, he avoided using male pronouns when addressing the student. He told his principal that he “couldn’t in good conscience pronounce masculine pronouns to refer to a girl,” saying his Christian faith which prevented him from doing so.
According to the Daily Signal, Vlaming accidentally called the student “she” in front of the class. The same day that the student complained, the teacher was summoned to the principal’s office and placed on administrative leave.
Some months later, in 2019, Vlaming filed a $1 million lawsuit against certain West Point officials in King William County, arguing that his free speech and conscience rights had been violated, and that there had been attempts made on him to violate his religious beliefs.
However, following a dismissal of his case by the Virginia Circuit Court, Vlaming requested the state’s Supreme Court to hear his case in September 2021. The court agreed to this in March of this year.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel – who is representing Vlaming – argued that the school board had violated Vlaming’s rights protected under the state constitution.
“As a teacher, Peter was passionate about the subject he taught, he was well-liked by his students, and he did his best to accommodate their needs and requests,” said Schandevel.
But Peter could not in good conscience speak messages that he doesn’t believe to be true. We hope the Virginia Supreme Court will agree that by firing him for those beliefs, the school board violated Peter’s rights under the Virginia Constitution and state law.
Vlaming’s case is also being supported by the Virginia Attorney General, along with physicians, feminists, legal scholars, and a variety of organizations, who all filed briefs with the state’s highest court in the teacher’s support.
Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Vlaming stated he was fired “because I wouldn’t personally endorse an ideology…the transgender ideology.”
The teacher – who says he has been unable to find work since, due to being fired – added that “we’ve come to a point where your job may be in the balance, but if people don’t take a stand, then we’re basically going more and more toward a totalitarian system where things that have nothing to do with the curriculum are being required.”
“Teachers are being required to parrot beliefs that, I would say, are false on their face, but that many teachers don’t hold,” continued Vlaming.
Vlaming was joined on Fox News by ADF attorney Caleb Dalton, who said that the case would decide “whether or not public schools will be allowed to fire teachers simply because they can’t express and personally endorse an ideological belief.”
Dalton added that Vlaming’s professional ability was not questioned, but that the school wanted him to “endorse this ideology using words” which would force Vlaming to use words to state something as true, which he believes to be false.
“No government should be able to force an employee on pain of firing, to lie and to violate their conscience,” stated Dalton.
Vlaming’s opening brief with the state Supreme Court argues that the school board acted “unconstitutionally, arbitrarily and capriciously, and without good cause” in firing him.
Due to the school board “firing him for declining to speak messages he disagrees with in violation of his religious beliefs,” the brief additionally argues that Vlaming’s state constitutional and statutory rights , as well as his contract, were violated.
Vlaming and his legal team will now await the outcome. According to the Washington Times, the justices did not give a date for an expected ruling.