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Virginia Supreme Court Says Lawsuit By Teacher Fired For Christian Beliefs About Sex May Proceed

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The Virginia Supreme Court unanimously voted Thursday to revive a lawsuit filed by a teacher who was terminated for declining to use male pronouns to refer to a female student.

In 2018, Peter Vlaming was fired from his job of seven years as a French teacher at West Point High School because he would not address a student by biologically inaccurate pronouns. Vlaming “told his superiors his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns” for the student. The student complained, leading to a four-hour hearing with the school board, which ultimately voted 5-0 to fire Vlaming for “discrimination.”

“That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment,” claimed West Point Schools Superintendent Laura Abel. “And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that. They felt disrespected.”

Vlaming sued the school board in 2019. After a circuit court judge dismissed the suit in 2021, the seven justices on the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Vlaming’s case alleging that his rights to free religious exercise and free speech were violated deserves to move forward.

“Peter wasn’t fired for something he said; he was fired for something he couldn’t say,” said Chris Schandevel, a senior defense counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who represents Vlaming. “The Virginia Supreme Court rightly agreed that Peter’s case against the school board for violating his rights under the Virginia Constitution and state law should proceed.”

In December last year, another teacher represented by ADF filed a lawsuit challenging her termination for refusing to refer to a student by inaccurate pronouns. Ohio middle school teacher Vivian Geraghty was fired over her religious objections to addressing two students by names and pronouns contradictory to their biology.

“Schools can’t force teachers to set their religious beliefs aside just to keep a job and they also can’t force teachers to say things that are untrue and harmful to students,” ADF legal counsel Logan Spena told the Daily Caller.

In California, a Christian teacher was let go for her refusal to conceal students’ attempts to dress and act as the opposite sex from parents. Jessica Tapia was a physical education teacher who would not permit male students to use women’s locker rooms and objected to district policy mandating that teachers hide students’ gender confusion from parents.

“[The district] called me back to work but presented me with various directives, to which I responded I would not be able to comply with some of them based on my beliefs, such as having to call students by their preferred gender/pronoun and withhold that information from their parents,” Tapia told the Daily Caller. “I believe God is love and the most loving thing we can do is affirm one another in who God made us to be.”


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