Recently a high school instructor named Peter Vlaming found himself out of a job after utilizing the wrong pronoun for one of his students. According to NBC News, Vlaming was repeatedly asked to respect his student’s right to be referred to as a boy, rather than as the girl she once was.
The incident took place when Vlaming shouted for someone to help ‘her’ — as the transgender student almost ran into a wall. This lead to the teacher being suspended from his duties as an instructor and later fired.
The student involved was a ninth-grader who had the full support of his family, which is probably why the school board decided to take action. The family of the student made it clear that they wanted the school to recognize their child as their son moving forward.
Vlaming was aware of this request but felt that doing so would compromise his own faith and morals. The biggest question in regard to this issue is whether Vlaming violated the transgender student’s right to be referred to as a boy, or if Vlaming’s right to uphold his religious beliefs was violated when he was fired for refusing to cooperate.
Believe it or not, this is something that will continue to become a major issue throughout America.
The most unfortunate thing about this situation is that it proves it’s virtually impossible to uphold the rights of everyone. If someone is a Christian and believes that transgenderism is wrong, then they have the right, according to the Constitution, to stand firm with that belief.
When you place that right next to someone else’s right to change their sex and their identity, then you have two conflicting ‘rights’ that will require the courts to determine what should be done to address them both fairly.
In this case, Vlaming was fired after the board decided to follow newly updated nondiscrimination policies that didn’t even include transgender pronoun use.
When the school’s superintendent was asked about the decision to fire Vlaming, she merely stated that “Vlaming’s discrimination led to a hostile learning environment.”
“What they did to me was not their display of tolerance,” Vlaming said of the decision. “That’s coercion.”
The Equality Virginia, an LGBTQ-rights group, stated that this situation proves the need for “statewide guidance that will protect all students from discrimination at school.” This calls to question among many on exactly what the term ‘discrimination’ really means.
If discrimination is the unjust treatment of different people on the grounds of race, age, religion, or sex then can it be argued that Vlaming was discriminated against for deciding to stand behind his faith when he refused to call the student a boy.
If Vlaming did not treat the student differently from the others, then how is his refusal to call the student a boy considered discrimination? This is truly one for the courts to decide.
Vlaming is appealing his case on the grounds that he was cheated of his right to make a decision that was held within the confines of his faith. Unfortunately, this is not going to be the only case that we will see in the future.
With increased cases of individuals fighting for their LGBTQ rights, and others fighting for their religious beliefs that contradict the rights of LGBTQ members, it will be difficult to find a happy medium among the two groups.