Attorneys for Peter Vlaming, a Virginia high school teacher fired for refusing to use a student’s pronouns, have asked the state’s highest court to hear his case.
The request comes after a lower court dismissed the teacher’s complaint that his termination violated his constitutional rights.
Chris Schandevel, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing Mr. Vlaming, told the Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday that the legal battle should be reviewed because the lower court did not give details for its dismissal and Virginians should have their religious and free speech rights protected.
“This court should take this opportunity to interpret Virginia law … and make sure Virginians’ rights are protected,” Mr. Schandevel told the court. “[Mr. Vlaming] was not fired for something he said. He was fired for something he could not say based on religious beliefs.”
Mr. Vlaming, who had taught French for seven years, said he couldn’t in good conscience follow the superintendent’s order to call one of his transgender student by masculine pronouns. He agreed to refer to the student by a different name — as requested by the student — and he avoided using any pronouns while in the student’s presence.
Nevertheless, West Point School Board fired him for refusing to fully accommodate the teen and follow the superintendent’s order.
“As a teacher, Peter was passionate about the subject he taught, he was well-liked by his students, and he did his best to accommodate their needs and requests. But Peter couldn’t in good conscience speak messages that he doesn’t believe to be true. And that was enough to get him fired by a school board that demanded absolute conformity to the school’s ideological beliefs,” Mr. Schandevel said.
The West Point School Board and Superintendent Larry Frazier declined to comment.
Mr. Vlaming was placed on administrative leave in 2018 and fired in 2019.
Students were outraged over his firing and about 150 of them participated in a walk-out, according to CBN News.
The Virginia Supreme Court previously ruled in favor of a physical education teacher that was suspended over his school district’s pronoun policy.