A Virginia teacher claiming he was canned for disrespecting a transgender student is now suing for $1 million in damages.
Peter Vlaming, who taught French at West Point High School in West Point, Va., claims that referring to a ninth-grade female student transitioning to male with masculine pronouns violated his religious beliefs, reported TV station WTVR.
According to the lawsuit filed Monday, using the “him," “he” and “his” pronouns relating to the unidentified student went against not only Vlaiming’s beliefs but his conscience. Now, he’s suing school officials and the school board.
When West Point High board members were alerted about Vlaming’s refusal, he was told that he risked dismissal from his post if he didn’t change, according to NBC News.
The suits also claims that Vlaming was accused of uttering female pronouns when discussing the student to other people and in class. Although the teacher admitted to the act, he says it was unintentional and talked to the student after class.
The document also claims Vlaming articulated his religious beliefs to school officials but was told that by refusing to use male pronouns, he was in violation of school board policy.
The faces and stories of transgender people around the world
The faces and stories of transgender people around the world
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“Defendants did not have any written policy regarding using pronouns," reads part of the lawsuit. "Defendants made up an uncompromising interpretation of their policies to compel Mr. Vlaming to take sides in an ongoing public debate regarding gender dysphoria and use pronouns that express an objectively untrue ideological message,” reads the suit.
Vlaming taught at the school from 2012 until his December 2018 firing, when the school board unanimously voted in favor of termination on the grounds of insubordination, reported NBC News.
But superintendent Laura Abel says Vlaming was warned repeatedly to address the student by the proper pronouns.
“By failing to follow the directive he was therefore discriminating and creating a hostile environment,” said Abel.