OAN’s Abril Elfi
2:14 PM – Friday, December 15, 2023
A lawsuit filed by a Virginia teacher who was fired for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns was reinstated.
The student in question is a biological woman who identifies as a transgender man.
On Thursday, the state’s Supreme Court announced the reinstatement of the lawsuit.
After being fired in 2018, Peter Vlaming, a former French teacher at West Point High School, filed a lawsuit against the school board and its administrators.
Before any evidence was considered in the case, a judge dismissed the lawsuit. However, the Supreme Court reversed that decision and declared that the lawsuit could go to trial.
Vlaming had used the student’s masculine name but refrained from using their preferred pronouns of “he” and “him,” according to his claims in the lawsuit.
Later, the student’s parents and the school informed him that he must use the student’s preferred male pronouns and that there would be problems if he ignored their request.
Because of his “sincerely held religious and philosophical” views that “each person’s sex is biologically fixed and cannot be changed,” Vlaming asserted that he was morally unable to use the student’s pronouns. Additionally, Vlaming claimed that using the student’s pronouns “would be a lie.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, filed the lawsuit on his behalf, alleging that the school had violated his constitutional rights to free speech and religious practice.
Vlaming, according to the school board, broke the anti-discrimination policy of the institution.
Two of Vlaming’s claims, namely that his right to freely exercise his religion was violated under the Virginia constitution and his claim of breach of contract against the school board, should go to trial, which the seven justices of the state Supreme Court agreed upon.
Justice D. Arthur Kelsy wrote in the majority opinion that “absent a truly compelling reason for doing so, no government committed to these principles can lawfully coerce its citizens into pledging verbal allegiance to ideological views that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
However, the court disagreed on a few points regarding the lawsuit.
Along with two other justices, Justice Thomas Mann dissentingly stated that the majority’s ruling on Vlaming’s claim of freedom of religion was expansive and “establishes a sweeping super scrutiny standard with the potential to shield any person’s objection to practically any policy or law by claiming a religious justification for their failure to follow either.”
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