I have read with great interest the issue of a teacher refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronoun. Instead, he put his job at risk — and lost it — over something that should have been a non-issue. He was repeatedly given opportunities to stand down and chose to refuse.
The teacher, an adult, publicly humiliated and shamed his student, a minor, in front of his peers. It cannot be easy for any person to make the difficult and life-altering decision to alter ones gender identity, especially for a high school student. High school students will latch onto any excuse to bully and torment another student, particularly when such treatment has been tacitly approved by a supervising adult, in this case a teacher.
The gentleman showed a gross lack of respect and empathy for a member of his class and put his personal religious beliefs first. A brave young transgender student from Gloucester has taken his case all the way to the Fourth District Court of Appeals and has prevailed at every hearing, despite the hounding, bullying and attacks of many adults. That takes a special kind of courage.
This is not a case of freedom of speech nor religion. One of the many duties of a good teacher is to protect his or her students from harm and Mr. Vlaming sadly and publicly failed in this primary function. I know of no religion which advocates child abuse as a part of their belief system.
Teachers are expected to provide a safe and secure environment for their students, not to espouse their personal beliefs and put them at risk.
John C. Frasca Jr.