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Teacher refuses to use student’s preferred pronouns and gets fired

Ella Braidwood December 7, 2018
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Teacher Peter Vlaming, who was sacked for refusing to use a student's preferred pronouns

A French teacher at a high school in Virginia, USA, has been fired for not using a student’s preferred pronouns, which he reportedly claimed was a “slip of the tongue.”

Teacher Peter Vlaming was dismissed from his role at West Point High School following a five hour hearing over the incident, reports NBC’s local affiliate. 

It came after a superintendent at the school recommended that Vlaming got the sack for his conduct, which included telling a trans male student “don’t let her walk into that wall.”

Teacher uses students’ affirmed name, but not preferred pronouns

Responding to the decision, Vlaming told NBC: “Miracles can happen, but I was prepared that this might be the outcome.”

Vlaming said he would use students’ chosen names but not their preferred pronouns.

A hearing at West Point High School after teacher Peter Vlaming refused to use a student's preferred pronouns
Teacher Peter Vlaming was fired after the hearing at West Point High School. (screengrab/NBC12)

“I’m totally happy to use the new name,” he said at the hearing.

“I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke… but I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscious and faith.”

Teacher refuses to obey school’s instruction to use preferred pronouns

He was sent a disciplinary letter from the school regarding his conduct, and reportedly refused to comply with its demand for him to use students’ preferred pronouns.

“The policy speaks not one word about pronoun usage,” said Shawn Voyles, Vlaming’s attorney, reports NBC’s local affiliate.

“I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscious and faith.”

—sacked teacher Peter Vlaming

“There is absolutely nothing in the policy, as the witnesses admitted from the school division, that speaks to that issue. Which makes that policy so problematic that it leaves it up to the individual for interpretation.”

Superintendent Laura Abel described Vlaming’s actions as “discriminatory” at the hearing.

It’s not the first time an academic has refused to use students’ preferred pronouns in the US.

In November, a Shawnee State University professor announced he was suing his workplace over his opposition to a policy that requires him to refer to students by their preferred pronouns.

Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University, Ohio, refused to refer to a trans student by her chosen pronouns, reports The Washington Times.

Student Alena Bruening filed a complaint against the Shawnee State University academic earlier this year after he objected to calling her “miss” or “she.”

He instead offered to refer to Bruening by her first name.

More: fired, preferred pronouns, teacher, US, Virginia, West Point

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