A teacher who was fired for not addressing a transgender student with masculine pronouns is suing his former employers for allegedly violating his right to speak freely and exercise his religion, among other claims.
The teacher, Peter Vlaming, said in a lawsuit he had promised to use the student's name and avoid pronouns, citing his religious beliefs, but administrators at the West Point High School in West Point, Virginia, gave him an ultimatum to either use pronouns such as his, him, or he, or face disciplinary action, reports The Washington Post.
On Oct. 31, 2018, however, when his French students were walking around the classroom wearing virtual-reality goggles, the transgender student was about to crash, and Vlaming shouted out "don't let her hit the wall." The student withdrew from his class and school officials suspended and then fired him, saying he had ignored his bosses' orders.
In his lawsuit, he says his conscience and religious practice prevents him from "intentionally lying" and he believes "referring to a female as a male by using an objectively male pronoun is telling a lie."
The school district and its attorneys did not answer a request from The Post for comment.
The lawsuit also seeks an injunction that would keep school officials from punishing other teachers for referring to students based on "biological sex."
West Point High School Principal Jonathan Hochman said at a school board meeting he could not think of a "worse way to treat a child" than Vlaming had been treating the student, and in a statement, the school board maintained the issue involved more than one mistaken slip of the tongue as a pattern.
Caleb Dalton, Vlaming's attorney and a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona conservative legal organization, said Monday his client had gone out of his way to treat the student, but the "school board didn't care."
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