Tonight, after an open hearing lasting more than 5 hours before the West Point School Board, Peter Vlaming was fired from his job. The five member school board, without comment, rubber-stamped the superintendent’s recommendation that he be terminated.
What did this beloved High School French teacher of seven years do to warrant this decision?
He dared to stand on his deeply-held convictions by not complying with the school administration’s directive that he refer to a female student by male pronouns.
It's unfortunate that those who demand tolerance the loudest want to punish anyone who does not conform. The West Point School Board has introduced a brand new ideology about human nature and insisted that Mr. Vlaming embrace it by setting aside his deeply held - and constitutionally protected - faith.
While Mr. Vlaming was willing to use the student's preferred name and avoid referring to the student with female pronouns, that did not satisfy the school administration, who told him that he MUST affirmatively use male pronouns for the female student.
The administration insists that by not using male pronouns, Mr. Vlaming violates school board policy and cited the Office of Civil Rights policy regarding gender discrimination. However, the school failed to inform the teacher that this federal administrative guidance was rescinded in 2017, prior to the current situation.
The public hearing was held in the Chorus Room, only allowing 38 members of the public to sit in on the meeting. There were well over a hundred people who tried to attend the meeting in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. Students and parents sat in the hallway watching a live-stream of the hearing when they learned they could not get into the room.
The support for Mr. Vlaming was inspiring.
Several students testified passionately about the way Mr. Vlaming shows genuine care and respect to all the students in his classroom. He had a spotless record with West Point High School to substantiate their personal testimony.
In all of this, we can clearly see that the addition of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to nondiscrimination policies is not an innocuous move that will merely protect vulnerable students. These policies are being used to punish anyone who does not agree with the ideology of the day and to coerce good people to speak a message they fundamentally disagree with at the threat of their livelihood.
While Mr. Vlaming lost his job tonight, this fight is far from over. He may have many long years of appeals in this case. At the same time he, his wife, and their four children between the ages of 1 and 10 have just lost their sole source of income.
Please pray for the Vlaming family.
We at The Family Foundation will continue to fight tirelessly in Richmond to ensure that the General Assembly does not pass these coercive and destructive nondiscrimination policies.