Peter Vlaming (West Point Public Schools)
Evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of the late Billy Graham, is supporting a Virginia high-school teacher who was fired for refusing to call a transgender student by a preferred pronoun.
The board at West Point High School voted unanimously to terminate French teacher Peter Vlaming last Thursday, as CBN News reported.
“Transgender policies are causing chaos, confusion, stealing privacy, and compelling speech. Deception from the Evil One,” Graham wrote in a post on Facebook.
Vlaming was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 31 after the school’s principal said he did not obey an order to use the preferred identity pronouns for a 9th grade student who was trying to “transition from female to male.”
The student asked to be called by the male pronouns “he” and “him.”
Vlaming insists the incident that got him fired amounted to a slip of the tongue, CBN News reported.
He was teaching a virtual reality exercise in his class when he called out, referencing the transgender student, “Don’t let her walk into the wall.”
Vlaming said, however, that while he would address the student by the new name, his Christian faith would not allow him to address a female as a male.
His solution was to use the student’s name and avoid using any pronouns.
“I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke,” he told WBBT-TV in Richmond, “but I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith.”
Vlaming’s attorney, Shawn Voyles, argued tolerance “is a two-way street.”
“My client respects this student’s rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well,” he said.
“The student is absolutely free to identify as the student pleases. The school board has 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.”
Tolerance not a two-way street?
In his Facebook post, Graham said the lawyer “is right to ask where are the teacher’s First Amendment rights in all of this? Why is tolerance never a two-way street?”
Graham observed that such cases are more frequent.
“Just ten years ago we wouldn’t have thought this would even be possible,” he wrote. “Where is this coming from? The school boards and teachers’ unions are allowing this to happen.”
He urged Christians to run for school boards and “be involved, and let your voice be heard.”
CBN News said Vlaming, who has the support of a group of students who staged a walkout, plans to fight the school board’s ruling.