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Teacher Fired Over “Pronoun Policy” Asks VA Supreme Court to Uphold His Right Not to Be Forced to Violate His Beliefs

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a high school French teacher fired for avoiding the use of personal pronouns to refer to one of his students will be making oral arguments in Vlaming v. West Point School Board at the Virginia Supreme Court on Friday.

The West Point School Board fired Peter Vlaming, who had taught in the district for nearly seven years, after he stated he couldn’t in good conscience comply with the superintendent’s demand that he refer to one of his students using pronouns inconsistent with the student’s sex.

Vlaming tried to accommodate the student by consistently using the student’s new preferred name and by avoiding the use of pronouns altogether. But school officials ordered him to stop avoiding the use of pronouns to refer to the student, even when the student wasn’t present, and to start using pronouns inconsistent with the student’s sex.

“Peter wasn’t fired for something he said; he was fired for something he couldn’t say,” said ADF Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of Vlaming. “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. 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.”

In May, the Virginia attorney general, physicians, feminists, legal scholars, and a variety of organizations all filed briefs with the commonwealth’s highest court in support of Vlaming.

Shawn Voyles, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is serving as co-counsel on Vlaming’s behalf.

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